In the 2022 variant of the classic “Cinderella”, the slippery glass shoe has fittingly been replaced by a comfortable sneaker. Disney’s “Sneakerella”, on the other hand, does not jump to any higher heights and would have benefited from completely jumping off the musical track.
Another Cinderella vintage? Calm pucks, in this year’s Cinderella there have actually been a lot of changes. It revolves around young El (Chosen Jacobs) who daydreams about designing sneakers but who works in a store in the family’s sneaker store. Here he is hugged by his stepfather and also slightly annoying stepbrothers to work long shifts in the store and is forced to clean up among the hopeless mess in the school warehouse. The flashing to the original “Cinderella”, is there, although I think this borders more on in-country problems than on actual incarceration.
Nåval, what is a ball at the castle. El and his best friend Sami (Devyn Nekoda) escape from one of El’s work shifts to be able to go to the launch of a pair of cool new sneakers. Once in the long queue, they meet the charming Kira (Lexi Underwood), and they all click directly over their strong passion and love for just a couple of “fresh kicks”. After a while, Kira turns out to be the daughter of the great sneaker king Darius King, hence Kira is called the “sneaker princess” (I knew you would get a Disney princess somewhere, Disney!).
El, young and inexperienced, becomes the talk of the town when he shows up in his self-designed sneakers filled with personal stories and unique touches. With Kira’s trust at the forefront, the simple store employee is suddenly said to be a superstar with long experience and celebrity customers. The new success becomes increasingly tricky for El and his toddlers to navigate around, and it does not help when it also tricks around two stepbrothers who do everything in their power to sabotage.
It’s a lively magical New York we get an insight into. The street world painted in “Sneakerella” is fun, inclusive, and colorful. In many ways, it symbolizes a new era for Disney, where all sorts of types can fit, whether you have a different skin color, or a different sexuality. El’s best friend Sami hints at having “a line of girlfriends” – it’s a few short lines, but it’s still something new into the conservative world. Being innovative and exciting goes well in line with the flashy “Sneakerella” that we get to follow – everyone gets to join. From time to time, the film tunes in to advanced song and dance numbers, which, however, once again reminds me that it is one of Disney’s friendly TV productions I actually watch.
In fact, it now seems that we can assess how progressively the world is moving by looking at different “Cinderella” variants. Disney’s first “Cinderella” (1950) was stereotypical, while “A Cinderella Story” (2005) long after showed that well, Cinderella can only wear jeans and sneakers. In “Cinderella” (2015) we were back among the classic corsets and thread-narrow waists, while last year’s “Cinderella” (2021) we had a modern “Fabulous Godmother”. The Cinderella’s story seems timeless – but it must, after all, keep up with all the trends in the outside world.
Our film, on the other hand, seems to have a hard time deciding whether it wants to be a musical or not. On the one hand, it sprinkles wildly with typically mammoth musical numbers à la a classic street dance, filled with eternally positive extras. But on the other hand, sometimes after half the film, they forget the songs in order to drive the story forward. Not because the story is so much better, it’s mostly the common misconceptions we often find in rom-coms – but the film gets a clear boost when it releases its twisted and squeezing song numbers.
For “Sneakerella” could have been a completely different kind of film if it had only dared to take the step out of its safe, PG world. The introductory sequences when El, Sami and Kira meet and end up on an adventure are a mile class over the mess like the rest of the film. The story of Kira and her father is nice and it’s fun to go to “SneakerCon” and get a glimpse of the almost cult shoe world that is just sneakers. El’s family, on the other hand, is all the more bizarrely uncomfortable in the whole thing, the stepfather is mostly abandoned and sour, while the two stepbrothers send out more vibes that remind me of the stupid villains in “Alone at Home”.
“Sneakerella” is not a complete gasp, it is a charming film but which you will soon forget to live. What you will probably remember with joy is when the young tu with twinkling eyes look at beautiful sneakers and laughter paint happy graffiti in a New York suburb. It could have been easier to pay homage to sneaker culture and New York. Less is more, even for you Disney.