Review: It’s bad movie time again with 'Cinderella'
If tasked with coming up with a reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 – first of all, I wouldn’t actually reboot it. I’d have Crow, Tom Servo and a new host back on the Satellite of Love with absolutely no explanation, because it’s the show with “repeat to yourself it’s just a show, you really should relax” in the theme song.
Second, I wouldn’t pitch it to Comedy Central or Syfy, but to a family oriented channel, because God knows there are enough lousy kid’s movies to go after; I’d first go after The Hub, because they seem to go after the cult, family appropriate shows, they already have a working relationship with Shout! Factory, the company that does the MST3K DVDs (and that would help get them rights to air older episodes, probably) and finally it would be about the only way to do My Little Pony: The Movie, which I’ve already laid the groundwork for. Use that for the series premiere; relatively high profile movie for the opener!
Finally, I’d pitch myself as the host – this is a fantasy that will eventually segue into a review of a bad movie, so you might as well go for it, right?
The True Story of Puss in Boots is a definite get. Hyenas might not work for the new direction of the show, but I have another movie in mind. It’s called Cinderella, and definitely falls into the fantasy MST3K reboot territory.
Cinderella (it may or may not be subtitled “Once Upon a Time in the West;” I’m really not sure) is a French CGI/motion capture animated movie released in America as a straight-to-DVD Wal-Mart exclusive. Featuring a completely funny animal cast, it is an obvious rip-off of an American blockbuster; surprisingly, not Disney’s Cinderella, but instead Rango.
Plot and characters
Cinderella, in this movie, is an antelope (I’m assuming a pronghorn, though her horns don’t prong, as it were) who works in the saloon owned by her evil stepmother dog, Felicity, who rules the small Western town of Felicity City with an iron fist. Cinderella has two ugly dog stepsisters; her only friend is a bizarre creature named Little Cloud who is some kind of tribal shaman. I have no idea what animal he is supposed to be.
A dog prince, Vladimir, is visiting the Wild West with his mother, a turkey (yes, a turkey) who likes to cheat at cards. It’s kind of her hobby. They arrive in Felicity City via train, after a mild misadventure involving pirate monkeys riding buzzards, and Felicity throws a party at the saloon in the hopes of getting the prince to turn one of her daughters into a princess. Cinderella is obviously not invited.
Little Cloud uses his shaman magic to summon ancient turkey spirits (yes, more turkeys) to give Cinderella a disguise so she can attend the ball. At the bar, the prince is not impressed with his fellow canines, but the mysterious antelope girl wins his heart – first with her dancing, then with her bar brawling skills when the monkey pirates return for a second try at kidnapping the prince and his turkey mom. They only manage to kidnap the turkey, however, so Cinderella must help the prince rescue her from the monkeys.
Evil stepmother Felicity and ugly stepsisters follow after, because Felicity out-cheated turkey mom in cards during the party and won the prince’s hand in marriage for one of her daughters. Oh, and obviously, the prince no longer recognizes Cinderella after the turkey magic disappears; luckily, she lost a tooth during the bar fight, because that’s what they went with to replace the glass slipper.
So that’s the setup; after a series of bizarre shenanigans in the desert, all plot points converge on a pirate ship in the middle of the desert — because, hey, if you’re going to rip off one Gore Verbinski movie, might as well rip off another. Inexplicably, it actually starts sinking for the climax. On dry land. Oh, well, it makes about as much sense as everything else that happens.
Animation and character design
I have to give the movie a bit of credit; the animation and character design are not horrible. That’s one advantage of trying to pass yourself off as a movie that is gloriously ugly in its character design. You can’t mess it up that bad; if things look ugly, it’s because it’s supposed to look ugly. At least, you can use that as an excuse. The animation is also fairly decent; not that stiff. They used motion capture, after all. Dialogue doesn’t always match the mouth, but that’s more bad dubbing than bad animation.
I honestly liked Cinderella’s character design; she looks especially nice in her blue dress granted by magical turkeys, though I will say that her pigtails just kind of sprout out of her head. Her character design does not include what furries would call “headfur,” other than the pigtails. It’s a bit odd. Another character design I was surprised to find myself kind of digging was the turkey mom’s. A decent mix of ugly and pretty; she wouldn’t look out of place in the actual Rango.
The background characters are a mixed bag. It wasn’t quite as successful as Rango in either numbers or variety, but for what the movie is, it’s mildly impressive. That said, the movie suffered horribly from misplaced wildlife; meerkats abound, I’m guessing the ostriches replace Rango’s roadrunners because the French artists had no idea what those were, and in a memorably bad movie moment, three buffalo show up — except they’re not American bison, they’re water buffalo! It extends to the dialogue; the turkey magic lasts only until the “jackal” howls twelve times.
Despite surprisingly decent animation and character design, the movie itself is rather boring; most of the laughs come from awkward, bad movie stuff rather than genuine humor. It’s the perfect MST3K movie; almost worth watching on its own merits, but not quite.