[Screen It]


(1998) (Drew Barrymore, Dougray Scott) (PG/PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Minor None Mild None *Heavy/Mild
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Romantic drama: A young servant woman must deal with her cruel stepmother and stepsister who have set their sights on the young prince who's fallen in love with her.
Danielle (ANNA MAGUIRE) is a young girl growing up on a 16th century French farm. Her happy life is shattered, however, when her father, Auguste (Jeroen Krabbe), dies of a heart attack and she's left in the hands of her cruel new stepmother, Baroness Rodmilla (ANGELICA HUSTON).

Years later, Danielle (DREW BARRYMORE) is a well-educated and confidant young woman who now works as a servant for Rodmilla and her two daughters, Marguerite (MEGAN DODDS) -- who's just as mean as her mother -- and Jacqueline (MELANIE LYNSKEY) -- who has a soft spot for Danielle.

They happen to live in the "backyard" of the King and Queen of France (TIMOTHY WEST & JUDY PARFITT), whose son, Prince Henry (DOUGRAY SCOTT), is unhappy that he's found himself stuck in an upcoming prearranged marriage. Wanting to see the world, he flees from the castle, borrows a horse, and just happens to ride by Danielle who doesn't recognize him and believes him to be a horse thief. A well-thrown apple knocks the prince from his ride, but upon seeing who she hit, Danielle immediately bows down in embarrassed respect, although some sparks immediately fly between the two.

Later, when she visits the court dressed like a courtier to free one of the farm's workers, she encounters Henry again and his interest in her grows stronger. Identifying herself only with her dead mother's name, Danielle wants nothing to do with the prince whom she believes is aristocratically arrogant and callous, but his charm slowly works its spell over her.

These and other chance meetings with her bode well for the prince who has five days to choose a new bride lest his father proceed with the prearranged marriage. Once word of this gets out, however, Rodmilla plots to have the prince fall for Marguerite, thus ensuring her family's place among the royals. As Danielle frets about Henry learning her true identity -- and must deal with a lascivious, middle-aged man, Pierre le Pieu (RICHARD O'BRIEN) -- she gets help from Jacqueline as well as famed artist and inventor, Leonardo da Vinci (PATRICK GODFREY), who hope they can collectively stave off Rodmilla's plans while getting the two star-crossed lovers together.

If they're fans of anyone in the cast or of the traditional "Cinderella" story upon which this is based, they just might.
  • Theatrical/DVD release (PG-13): For momentary strong language.
  • VHS release (PG): For brief language and mild thematic elements.
  • DREW BARRYMORE plays the well-educated, confident and carrying young servant woman whose chance encounters with the prince may change her life. Other than acting as someone other than herself, she doesn't have any other bad traits.
  • DOUGRAY SCOTT plays the young prince who's unhappy due to his approaching prearranged marriage. Although he does have some initial aristocratic "let them eat cake" mannerisms, Danielle has a positive impact on him and he changes for the better.
  • ANGELICA HUSTON plays Danielle's cruel stepmother who treats Danielle like a servant after her father dies. Not only does she treat Danielle poorly, but she also plots to make the prince fall for her daughter so that she can become part of the royal family.
  • MEGAN DODDS plays Danielle's beautiful, but equally cruel stepsister who constantly belittles and is demeaning to Danielle.


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    Anyone who's familiar with romantic fairy tales knows that the man and woman "live happily ever after" at the story's close. Thus, the origin of the title for this updated version of the classic "Cinderella" story that certainly -- and not surprisingly -- doesn't stray from that formula that's proven successful throughout the ages.

    Unlike the well-known Disney version, however, this one has forgone the fairy godmother, the pumpkin and the mice in favor of a more streamlined and "realistic" telling of the Brothers Grimm classic. Thus, those looking for those elements may be disappointed, but fans of old-fashioned romantic dramas should find this film to their liking.

    That's mainly due to the lead characters and the standard complications in their lives that nearly prevent, but (of course) cannot stop the inevitable "ever after" finale. As such, director and co- writer Andy Tennant ("It Takes Two," "Fools Rush In") -- working with cowriters Susannah Grant and Rick Parks -- has fashioned something of a 90's version of the traditional story.

    No longer is Cinderella -- the nickname used by Marguerite for Danielle -- a passive woman waiting and hoping for her prince and/or lucky day to come along. This woman, wonderfully played by a buoyant Drew Barrymore ("The Wedding Singer"), is well-educated, confident, and not initially enamored by the handsome prince. The former "E.T." child star certainly turns on the charm for this role and delivers an extremely likeable and winning performance.

    While her demeanor, words and actions will no doubt please today's moviegoers (as well as those looking for good role models for young girls), Tennant and company's script is certainly anything but socially accurate for the historical time. Fortunately, the story's long history as a fantasy type fairytale makes such "unrealistic" material that much easier to swallow.

    Dougray Scott ("Deep Impact") is good but not outstanding in the standard issue role of the handsome prince. Fortunately, he gives the character enough charm to overcome such shortcomings. The scene stealer, however, belongs to Angelica Huston ("Prizzi's Honor," "The Grifters") as the cruel stepmother.

    While she nicely avoids the almost expected, over the top performance (such as exhibited by Glenn Close in "101 Dalmatians"), she does play the character with enough humorous camp not only to make her more interesting, but also more accessible to the audience than a straightforward villain. Supporting performances are fine, including the interesting inclusion of Patrick Godfrey playing the legendary artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci (who essentially replaces the fairy godmother).

    Although the story is about as predictable as they come (especially because of its long and well- known history), the movie still manages to be moderately enjoyable. The film's previews, however, nearly do the picture a disservice by making this look like yet another Generation X update of a classic ( la the recent "Romeo & Juliet" and "Great Expectations"). Thankfully it's just a marketing ploy and the film does play out like an old-fashioned film from yesteryear (albeit with modern day dialogue and conventions).

    The film should play well with women (who historically favor such movies more than men) and young girls (as long as they're not expecting the Disney version), but how it will perform with the rest of the audience is questionable. If our less than half full preview screening is any indication, this film's carriage ride to the box office ball might get stuck in some deep pumpkin and consequently find "midnight" arriving sooner than expected.

    Fortunately the picture is filled with enough complications to keep things interesting, doses of humor to lighten things up, and winning performances from the likes of Barrymore and Huston all of which make the film moderately entertaining. We give "Ever After: A Cinderella Story" -- a decent, but not great retelling of the classic fairytale -- a 6 out of 10.

    While the original theatrical release was rated PG-13 for "momentary strong language" (evidently related to several muttered "f" words that few people actually heard), they've been excised and this "new" VHS video version has subsequently been rated PG for "brief language and mild thematic elements" (the DVD release, however, was not edited and is still PG-13).

    Otherwise, a brief, but certainly not intense sword fight also occurs, and we briefly see some bloody lash marks on Danielle's back (indicating that she received a lashing -- that we don't see -- from Rodmilla's orders). Both the stepmother and one stepsister have bad attitudes toward Danielle, and there is the brief thematic element of a young girl watching her father die of a heart attack.

    Beyond that, however, the remaining categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable content. Nonetheless, you may want to take a closer look through the listed material should you still be concerned about whether the film is appropriate for you and/or your kids.

  • We occasionally see people drinking from goblets and such in several scenes, but there's no indication either way about whether the contents are alcoholic (ie. Wine) or not.
  • We briefly see many bloody looking lash marks on Danielle's back (from a lashing ordered by Rodmilla).
  • Pierre Le Pieu has a tiny, bloody scratch on his cheek after Danielle slices him there with a dagger.
  • Rodmilla and Marguerite have plenty of both toward Danielle. Not only do they treat her like a servant while living in her father's home, but they also condescendingly pity her for her plight and status in life. In one scene, Rodmilla tells her, "It's your manner that offends" and later calls her a "stupid, stupid girl." Later she says, "To be raised by a man (her father), no wonder you're built for labor." Finally, once Danielle asks Rodmilla if she ever had any motherly feelings toward her, the stepmother replies, "How can anyone love a pebble in a shoe?"
  • Some gypsies rob some passing carriages.
  • Danielle lies to Henry about her identity (too embarrassed to let on that she's just a servant) and continues to allow him to believe this until the end of the movie.
  • Rodmilla plans to allow Marguerite to wear Danielle's dowry dress and glass slippers to a ball.
  • Pierre Le Pieu has both, for not only does he have some obvious lustful thoughts toward Danielle, but he later buys her into his servitude in exchange for her father's belongings.
  • Marguerite proceeds to throw Danielle's father's book into the fireplace when she agreed to exchange it for Danielle's glass slippers.
  • Once Henry learns Danielle's true identity, he briefly has both toward her and wants nothing to do with her.
  • Likewise, once Rodmilla learns that the prince is interested in her, she locks Danielle in the basement so that she won't interfere with her matchmaking plans.
  • A young Danielle watches in horror as her father falls from his horse and dies of a heart attack.
  • Younger kids may find a scene where Henry chases a gypsy on horseback and then on foot (for stealing da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" painting) as a bit suspenseful, especially when they slide over a cliff and fall a great distance into a body of water below.
  • A gypsy punches Henry in the face and the two then get into an adventurous sword fight where neither is harmed, but some younger kids may find suspenseful (especially when another gypsy briefly holds a knife to Danielle's throat).
  • Fed up with Le Pieu's behavior toward her, Danielle holds a knife to his face and then slices it, drawing a tiny bit of blood. Moments later she holds a sword and dagger to his throat and demands her release (he agrees).
  • Swords/Knives/Spears: Carried by various people, including guards/soldiers.
  • Swords: Used by Henry and a gypsy during a brief sword fight.
  • Knife/Dagger: Used by Danielle to threaten/defend herself from Le Pieu.
  • Phrases: "Horsesh*t," "Half-wit," "Cow" (what Danielle calls Marguerite), and "Ingrate."
  • None.
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music accompanies a few scenes, while a few others have music that's adventurous and playfully suspenseful.
  • None.
  • Several muttered "f" words (in the theatrical and DVD releases, but not the VHS version), 1 "s" word, 2 hells, 1 damn, and 2 uses of "My God" and 1 use each of "Oh God" and "Good Lord" as exclamations.
  • Marguerite shows some cleavage in her outfit, while a few other young ladies do the same in later scenes.
  • There's a tiny bit of innuendo when Pierre Le Pieu, who obviously has some lustful thoughts toward Danielle, tells her, "I may be twice your age, but I'm well endowed (pause) as evidenced by my wealthy estate." Later, he comments that he once had a willful horse like her, and that all it needed was to be "broken."
  • None.
  • Not only does Danielle see her father die of a heart attack, but she's then left with a cruel stepmother and stepsister (and another benign one) who are mean and demeaning and treat her like a servant.
  • That Danielle is a smart and self-assured (but not historically accurate) portrayal of a woman (ie. A good role model).
  • Arranged marriages.
  • The loss of a parent and/or living with step-family members.
  • Believing that Henry is stealing one of their horses, Danielle throws a series of apples at him that eventually knock him from the horse.
  • Henry and a thieving gypsy briefly struggle on horseback and then on the ground as Henry tries to retrieve the stolen "Mona Lisa" painting.
  • Rodmilla pushes Danielle down into a chair.
  • A gypsy punches Henry in the face and the two then get into an adventurous sword fight where neither is harmed, but another gypsy briefly holds a knife to Danielle's throat.
  • Danielle punches Marguerite and then chases her through the manor (where Marguerite eventually tosses Danielle's father's book into the fireplace, incinerating it.
  • We briefly see many bloody looking lash marks on Danielle's back showing that she received a lashing as ordered by Rodmilla (but the actual lashing is not seen).
  • A friend of Danielle's drops a bucket (filled with rocks, coal or something similar) onto the head of a man working as Rodmilla's spy, and knocks him out.
  • Rodmilla tears a large wing from Danielle's ball costume.
  • Some of Le Pieu's men forcibly carry off Danielle from her home after he's "bought" her.
  • Fed up with Le Pieu's behavior toward her, Danielle holds a knife to his face and then slices it, drawing a tiny bit of blood. Moments later she holds a sword and dagger to his throat and demands her release (he agrees).
  • A woman in a laundry room purposefully knocks both Rodmilla and Marguerite into a pool of cleaning water because they were getting on her nerves.

  • Reviewed July 25, 1998

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