STUDIO: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 74 minutes
• “Bibbidi Bobbidi Choose” DVD game
• “I Still Believe” music video
• Cinderella’s Ballroom (DVD ROM)
• Backstage at Disney Cruise Line’s “Twice Charmed”
• Sneak peek of “Disney Princess Enchanted Tales”

The Pitch

Let’s continue to dilute decades of quality with unnecessary direct-to-video sequels!

The Humans

Christopher Daniel Barnes, Jennifer Hale, Frank Welker, Tara Platt

The Nutshell

It’s been a year since Cinderella began her happily ever life of throwing parties, riding horses and singing songs. It’s magical, and should be every little girls’ unrealistic dream. On the flip side, things couldn’t be worse for Cinderella’s wicked stepmother and stepsisters. They are jealous, and Lady Tremain wants revenge. Luckily, for her not two minutes later the Fairy Godmother (since when can just anyone see her?) has been turned to stone and her magic wand is in the stepmother’s hands. Lady Tremain calls upon all the powers of the universe, which might be a bit much if you ask me, to send back time to before Cinderella fit into the glass slipper. Anastacia is now the new princess and the space-time continuum has been left beaten and fighting for survival along the side of the road. Forced with the unspeakably evil prospect of a princess-less life, Cinderella must break the spell and get her Prince back with 50 minutes of running time left.

Yes! With this wand I can finally dominate on Frank Costanza’s billiard table.

The Lowdown

Well, at least it’s not High School Musical. In fact, it’s almost decent. Almost. The biggest problem I have with this release is its existence. Sure, the direct-to-video market is a cash cow for Disney, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good decision. Disney Feature Animation is in the tank because parents don’t need to send their kids to the movie theater when they’ve got stacks of poor quality sequels on DVD. Sequels that taint the goodwill of the mostly classic original films. I’m sorry but ‘happily ever after’ doesn’t leave much room for interpretation. This movie and the many others spewed out by Disney over the past 10 years are about as necessary as a sequel to Saving Private Ryan that explores how Ryan tried to earn it after the war.

I can hate the movie for the reasons above, but how good is it? It’s watchable. Pretty middle of the road, neither good nor all that bad. There are all kinds of plot holes and the happenings of Cinderella II (sadly, I’ve seen most of it) are completely ignored. The plot is very basic, with no time to spare on subplots. The movie runs just over an hour. Thankfully, that doesn’t leave much time for extended musical numbers. There are a few songs, but wisely aren’t the focus of the film. The focus is getting in, getting the cash, and getting out as quickly as possible.

The hills are alive with the sound of mediocrity.

The movie plays out like an action/adventure story for girls under the age of 10. Instead of a search for buried treasure, it’s the prospect of marrying a rich prince. Same goal, different means. There are frequent attempts at humor, but it’s all too self-aware and feels so out of place when compared to the original Cinderella. The movie doesn’t need to be Shrek 2. I will admit, I did get a few chuckles out of the cat and mouse antics. Those moments echo the more timeless slapstick humor of the classic Disney films.

Before The Little Mermaid, it can be argued that all of the princess movies were more or less the same. The supporting characters were the distinguishing factor. The mice in Cinderella were some of the more endearing supporting characters in a princess movie. Screw the Seven Dwarfs. Cinderella III does get one thing right by giving them a lot of screen time. Gus and Jaq are the heart of the movie, without them, an already vapid story would have begun to rival a black hole. Besides, who doesn’t love an obese retarded mouse?

The movie is everything you could expect from a direct-to-video sequel to an unnecessary direct-to-video sequel. I’m sure little girls that don’t know any better will absolutely adore this movie. My only hope is that parents are wise enough to hide this from them. Give the kids some respect, give them the original film. Don’t make me threaten to call Child Welfare.

Another day, another battle with herpes.

The Package

The quality of this disc is entirely direct-to-video. The animation is of an obvious lower standard. Why not? More money can be made that way. The disc does come in a nice slip case. The packaging provokes the gullible to belief that maybe the film will be of a better quality than other direct-to-video Disney releases.

The special features cater to the princess crowd. The Bibbidi-Bobbidi Choose Game is a point and click journey through Cinderella’s castle. Clicking on the right items will guide you to a secret room where a magic mirror divulges Cinderella’s heart’s desire. It’s a sandwich. Yes, I spent 30 minutes clicking through this arid game to find out that her desire is, “To be a princess with her prince at hand.” Totally worth it.

Cinderella’s Ballroom is a DVD-ROM feature where little girls can hone their anal-retentive diva tendencies. They can set music on The Princess Jukebox and then choreograph their own ballroom dances. There is also a feature that transforms normal photos into princess photos. It’s fun. I make a pretty pretty princess.

Maybe it’s just me, but do the animators even try to hide the sexual references anymore?

Two advertisements, I mean special features, are sneak peeks at other Disney products. Behind the scenes of “Twice Charmed” is nothing more than a chance to play grab ass with the Disney Cruise Line. For the brave, check out an extended preview of Disney Princess Enchanted Tales, the next brain and brand melting Disney Princess release. The other main extra is a music video for “I Still Believe,” sung by everyone’s favorite jailbait indestructible cheerleader. Young actors used to have drug problems, now they all gotta sing. What’s happened to this world?

5 out of 10