Why the 1997 Disney Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” is the greatest movie ever made
Brandy is Cinderella
Remember Brandy? No? She was a big deal in the 90s because SHE’S WONDERFUL
She’s so sweet and wide-eyed and beautiful and strong and curious and exactly what Cinderella should be
She’s the QUEEN of back-handed insults
She also takes NO SHIT from bros
This movie is so fucking COLORFUL (and I don’t even mean the casting -we’ll get to that) - like, they just use every fucking color that is visible to the human eye and splatter them over the sets and costumes and it’s GREAT
WHITNEY HOUSTON IS THE MOTHERFUCKING FAIRY GODMOTHER
THE START AND END OF THIS MOVIE IS JUST WHITNEY HOUSTON FLOATING THROUGH THE AIR SINGING AT THE CAMERA
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music is re-orchestrated to have this weird 90s pop/R&B twinge (so many synths) and it’s so bizarre but also really wonderful?
Just in general, the orchestrations are amazing - they clearly spent half their budget on the orchestra
They clearly didn’t spend much money on the set - I’m pretty sure they filmed the whole movie on a disused part of Disneyland but it’s perfect.
OKAY LET’S TALK ABOUT COLOR BLIND CASTING
THIS IS LITERALLY THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF COLOR BLIND CASTING - NOT ONLY DID THEY MAKE A DIVERSE CAST BUT THE CASTING LITERALLY MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE AND IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER BECAUSE THERE IS NO RACISM IN FAIRYTALE LAND
The King & Queen are Whoopi Goldberg and Victor Garber and they have an ASIAN SON
Like, THESE TWO PEOPLE PRODUCED THIS GODLIKE KEN DOLL OF A PERSON (it makes zero genetic sense and is my favorite thing about this movie)
Seriously, who is this guy and where do I get one?
This actor, Paolo Montalban, was basically never in anything else which is a fucking CRIME because he is BEAUTIFUL and a WONDERFUL SINGER
Speaking of wonderful singers, Bernadette Peters is the step-mother. That’s right, Broadway superstar, Sondheim’s muse herself, Bernadette Peters.
And for no other reason than being Bernadette Peters, she sings “Falling in Love with Love” which isn’t even from this fucking musical (though it is R&H’s) and dramatically swoons onto couches
She also has one white daughter and one black daughter and they are both terrible and perfect
What even is the wallpaper in this movie? Seriously, pay attention to the wallpaper.
And the costumes in the movie. Especially during the ball when the dresses all go swoosh!
Inexplicably, George Costanza is the prince’s servant and has a completely random and bizarre accent.
“I wish there was something between us: a continent” is the greatest rejection line ever
This movie is genuinely funny at times. All the actors are too good to get bogged down by cheesy dialogue
Ugh, that scene in the garden. I s2g, this was the most romantic thing to me when I was 8
Seriously, this prince is the dreamiest prince you’ve ever seen
Oh man, the special effects are so bad.
Whitney Houston singing and floating away into the aether is maybe my favorite film ending of all time
IN CONCLUSION: WATCH THIS FUCKING MOVIE. IT IS A FUCKING DELIGHT.
When I say I want to be a conduit of opportunity, Whitney Elizabeth Houston is one of the gold standards to me of creating and opening doors for other performers.
This is the woman who declined performing the role of Cinderella as was originally offered, promoting Brandy for the role in her place. The woman who could have done another fire solo soundtrack for Waiting To Exhale, but brought on over fourteen additional artists to perform tracks (many of which became hits and quiet storm staples). As a filmmaker she produced The Princess Diaries films, the Sparkle remake, and - yes, hunty - Cheetah Girls 1&2. #strutlikeyoumeanit
In 1999 she helped Mary J. Blige’s explosion into the mainstream stratosphere by bringing her onstage as a special guest during Vh1 Divas Live ‘99 - still a record-breaking broadcast that is a large reason Mary became a household name outside of the hip hop and R&B audience. In the studio and on stages she would pass the mic to Monica, Kelly Price, Karen Clark Sheard, and others, an unabashed fan of vocals and technique.
This was a woman who loved being a woman, who loved being Black, and, despite mounting obstacles in her personal life, still promoted quality entertainers and produced quality content that showed positive images of other women and other Black people AND other Black women. Who can forget Raven-Symoné (back when we didn’t have the problems we do now) dropping and posing in heels and skintights while weighing more than her Cheetah peers and the film allowed her to be thought of as driven, desirable and accessible as a contemporary lead who was not Hollywood conventional - something we didn’t really get again until Annalise Keating showed up on our screens two years ago.
Too often she’s been reduced to her voice or her issues. Here’s to just another facet of an American Black Diamond. Here’s to Whitney the conduit. Black history is world history. Salute.