As classic a tale as "Cinderella" certainly is, do we really need "Another Cinderella Story?" Not really, but that's what we get in this direct-to-video tale, done likely because it was an easy formula for rising star Selena Gomez ("Wizards of Waverly Place".) Gomez stars as Mary Santiago, a young woman who has been living under the watch of the evil Dominique (Jane Lynch), a faded pop star who spends most of her days using Mary as her servant.
If that's not bad enough, Mary is also pestered by her two evil stepsisters, twin daughters Britt (Emily Perkins) and Bree (Katherine Isabelle). However, everything changes when pop star Joey Parker (Andrew Seeley) comes back to school after a year of touring and announces a big dance competition - the winner will star in his new video.
The rest of the movie plays out much like one would expect. There's the big ball that all the girls want to go to, but the two stepsisters and Dominique come up with a plan to keep her at home. While things look grim, she's rescued by her pal Tami (Jessica Parker Kennedy), who gets her to the masked ball in time to get a dance with Joey.
When Mary runs from the dance, she drops her MP3 player in the rush to get home before her evil stepmother and stepsisters (and it's a little odd that the stepsisters are supposed to be the same age as Mary, and yet both of the stepsisters look about 40) can make it home. When her stepsisters - who desperately want to get in Joey's video - find out, they double their efforts to try and keep Mary away from Joey. Dominique doesn't help matters either by lying to Mary about being rejected from a Manhattan dance academy.
"Another Cinderella Story" doesn't attempt to do anything fresh with the story, instead throwing in some predictable tweaks for modern day. The presentation's more than a little bland, and it doesn't help that Lynch completely overplays as Dominique. Perkins and Isabelle also play right along, making their characters too ridiculous. I can't even imagine those in the target audience finding these three amusing, only deeply cheesy.
The bright spot of the movie is - at least to some degree - Gomez. While her performance is rather limited, she is charming in the role and has fine chemistry with Seely. 'Tweens may still want to check this film out because of Selena Gomez, but I'd advise a rental, as I have to imagine even the target audience will feel as if they've seen this sort of thing too often in the past.
VIDEO: "Another Cinderella Story" is presented by Warner Brothers in 1.85:1 (1080p/VC-1). The results are generally fine, as the picture appears noticably crisper and more defined than the DVD edition. While some scenes looked a tad soft by intent, others showed reasonably nice depth. Although some light noise and edge enhancement were seen at times, the picture otherwise looked reasonably crisp and clean. Colors were, as one might expect, bright and poppy, only occasionally looking a tad smeary. This was a fine enough presentation - while an improvement over the DVD, it was still nothing to get too excited about.
SOUND: No HD audio here, as we only get a Dolby Digital 5.1. presentation. The presentation delivered just what one might expect from a teen movie - the surrounds are used minimally for the overly loud pop music soundtrack and the audio is otherwise front-heavy. Despite the pumped-up music, dialogue is still clear and easily understood.
EXTRAS: We get a basket of minor promotional features, presented in standard definition. These include: "Mary: Dancing Ever After: The Movie's Musical Pulse", "Mary: The Cinderella of the Story - Spotlight on Selena Gomez", "A Popstar Prince: Joey Parker - Spotlight on Drew Seely", "The Diva Dominique", "Dance, Dance, Dance" and "Tami's Fantastic Fashions". These slight featurettes offered the usual array of fluffy interviews amidst some decent behind-the-scenes clips. Also included is the "Just That Girl" music video and 3 sing-along tracks ("New Classic" by Selena Gomez & Drew Seely, "Hurry Up and Save Me" by Tiffany Giardana and "Just That Girl" by Drew Seely).
Final Thoughts: 'Tweens may still want to check "Another Cinderella Story" out because of Selena Gomez, but I'd advise a rental, as I have to imagine even the target audience will feel as if they've seen this sort of thing too often in the past. The Blu-Ray offers solid video quality, decent audio and an assortment of forgettable extras. Rent it.
The Film C-