We're all familiar with the original story of Cinderella. The father of a beautiful girl remarries a horrible woman with two horrible daughters after his wife's death, then dies himself. The evil stepmother forces Ella into indentured servitude and makes her sleep in the attic, where her only friends are talking rodents. Glass slippers, pumpkins, fairy godmothers... you know the rest. A new live-action version of Cinderella 65 years after the release of Disney's original and animated "love story with music" offers a great chance to freshen up the most boring of the Disney princesses (and that's saying a lot—I'm looking at you, Snow White). But no, it's really just the exact same film.
But I'm not just here to complain, I'm here to help! I've taken my qualified position as Internet Yeller to give the folks at Disney not just feedback, but suggestions on how they could have turned Cinderella into the badass, animal-whispering, independent woman she was meant to be.
Here is how the latest Cinderella is:
• Cinderella's motto in life (given to her by her dying mother) is to see the world not as it is, but as you want it to be. When a friend asks her why she's still living as a servant in her family home when she's a grown adult who could just bounce, that shitty motto of complacency is her actual justification for staying.
• The animals don't talk. Apparently, in the "real" world, we can have fairy godmothers but not adorable talking rodents? That fat mouse saying "Cinderellie" is basically the only reason for watching Cinderella in the first place. This is a fucking outrage.
• Cate Blanchett is a wonderful evil stepmother. Her ability to portray spine-chilling malice without saying a word is perfect for a villain. EVIL CATE BLANCHETT FOREVER.
• The stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella, are portrayed by the delightful Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera. Also, they aren't so horrible? They are hilarious and witty and their faces are actually capable of a variety of expressions (unlike Lily James as Cinderella, who only seems capable of bewilderment and the Olivia Pope cry-face).
• Cinderella does nothing whatsoever to help herself; all she does is pick up people's shit, talk to animals, and cry in her attic hovel. She is the doormat of all doormats. For some reason, this makes her worthy of a fairy godmother coming to fix all of her problems.
• I've suffered from some Helena Bonham Carter fatigue in the past, but she is absolutely perfect as the fairy godmother. She is everything I didn't know I wanted a fairy godmother to be. It's honestly the most I've enjoyed a performance of hers in a long time. Because she's so awesome, she's only on screen for about two minutes.
• There is a black dude in the movie, and he has speaking lines. For Disney, this is notable. Give them an award for achieving a 1960s level of diversity in 2015. Seriously, you get to make up an entire world with fairy godmothers and pumpkins that turn into cars and you can't imagine more than one person of color?
• Lily James as Cinderella and Richard Madden as Prince Charming are so incredibly unremarkable in their symmetrical beauty and passionless personalities that I would not be able to pick either of them out in a lineup of life-size Barbie and Ken dolls.
Here are the things that would have made Cinderella way better:
• Five times more footage of Anastasia and Drizella threatening to kill each other in awesomely creative ways while snarking on the boring-ass town they live in.
• BRING BACK THE TALKING ANIMALS.
• Half the movie is Helena Bonham Carter being witty in that "I'm so quirky and British, I might as well be from another planet" way while she randomly transforms vegetables into cool stuff.
• Cinderella's mother's dying words to her daughter are not "See the world as you want it to be" and instead "Burn the muthafucker down." When I asked my 13-year-old what his biggest problem with the movie was, he said, "Cinderella didn't set that house on fire."
• When Prince Charming forces every woman to try on an uncomfortable glass shoe in order to find his "true love," his friend and adviser (the one black dude) says, "Whoa, buddy. You don't know her name? You don't know what she looks like? This is a horrible waste of palace funds. Also, read some bell hooks, 'cause your white male privilege is out of control."
• Cinderella has a mole or a zit or something to make her face more memorable (would probably also negate the reason for the whole nationwide shoe-trying debacle).
• Apparently, the reason why the stepmother is a villain is supposedly that she loved a man who died, and was forced to marry a man she didn't love to avoid becoming destitute, and she's rightfully pissed that women have to do this to survive. That doesn't make villains, that makes heroes. Why does Cinderella even have to be in this movie? New movie: Stepmother and Stepsisters Too Busy Dealing with Shit to Care About the Weird Sad Girl Who Lives in the Attic.
• Cinderella says, "Fuck y'all, I'm not your servant." Flips over a table. Electric guitar plays. Fairy godmother shows up and says: "Finally. That's the way a woman does it." She turns one of the mice into the Predator, who inflicts gruesome punishment on all who have wronged Cinderella. They destroy the patriarchal kingdom in an epic battle. Cinderella turns the house into an anarchist feminist commune.
In my fantasy world, women refuse to eat shit. In my fantasy world, having a sense of humor and a sense of justice are far more important than a pretty face. In my fantasy world, the animals fucking talk. Fairy godmothers help those who help themselves.