A contemporary twist on Cinderella but without the heart or the soul (sole) of the better adaptations of the classic story
As you might expect from the title, this is yet another version of the age-old Cinderella story. Unfortunately, it’s not the cross between Metal Gear Solid and Cinderella that I was hoping for, with Cinders sneaking through enemy bases and taking out bad guys with a sprinkle of fairy dust and the heel of her shoe! Instead, it’s a gender-swapped take on the original fable which is set in the modern day.
The movie focuses on El (Chosen Jacobs), a stockroom boy at a shoe store who dreams of becoming a famous sneaker designer. His less than wicked stepfather doesn’t allow him the opportunity to fulfil his dreams, however, and neither do his bullying stepbrothers who do their best to make El’s life miserable while he is under their father’s employ.
El’s life takes a turn when he meets Kira, the daughter of sneaker tycoon Darius King. He doesn’t know who she is at first, as befits the classic story, but he later discovers her true identity when he enters the sneakers he has designed at Sneakercon where he hopes to impress the girl’s father.
As expected, it’s not long before things go wrong for the young man and he is forced to flee the popular event, leaving behind one of the sneakers he was wearing for Kira to find. Will she track down the young man who has not only wowed onlookers with his sports shoes but who has also won her heart? You already know the answer.
This isn’t the first time the story of Cinderella has been brought into the modern-day. Ella Enchanted was a fresh and funny take on the tale and stands as one of the better adaptations to hit our screens. A Cinderella Story and 2021’s Cinderella also brought contemporary versions of the fable to life although they were much less successful. The latter was particularly intolerable.
So, how does Sneakerella compare to the many versions that have come before? Well, it’s certainly not the worst adaptation but with very few scenes of magic in this musical telling that favours urban realism over enchanting fantasy, it rarely manages to charm the mind or the heart. The fact that it plays out exactly as you would expect, despite the updated setting, does the movie no favours either.
As a young man who wants to escape his dead-end life in Queens, New York, the character of El is certainly relatable. The movie has a commendable ‘believe in yourself’ message so it might prove inspirational to those who can put themselves in El’s shoes (or sneakers) and identify with his class struggles. For this reason, the movie does have something to offer.
But as the story is bland and over-familiar, this doesn’t do much to rise above all the Cinderella movies that have come before. Of course, this might not be an issue for you if you’re looking for something as warm and comfortable as a battered old sneaker but if you’re after a snazzy new re-design, you may be disappointed.
Still, the musical numbers are okay, provided you have a tolerance for characters breaking into song and dance every 15 minutes or so. The diverse cast of actors is refreshing. And the performers manage to engage, despite the cliched characters whose shoes they fit into, with special mention to Chosen Jacobs, who you may remember as Mike Hanlon from 2017’s It.
If you’re as sneaker-obsessed as El, it might be that this movie has something more to offer you than those who aren’t. Barely a scene goes by without somebody making a comment about this popular type of footwear so you might get a kick from this if you have a vested interest in sneakers (or trainers, if you’re in the UK). But if you don’t have an interest in sneakers and if you can’t see what all the fuss is about when people parade the latest in foot fashion, you might be irritated by this modern twist on the story.
As the movie runs for almost two hours, there is another reason why it might test your patience. If you hate musicals, it will particularly grate, although you can eliminate these and the long-running time by fast-forwarding through any scenes when a character opens their mouth to sing.
Of course, if you’re part of the movie’s target audience, you may enjoy this movie more than I did. You might be won over by the feel-good spirit of the story and the energetic young cast. I’m fully aware that, as an adult, my view of the movie might not be shared by people under 12 who might be able to tolerate the over-familiar narrative and designer footwear plotlines. And that’s fine!
But if you’re a parent looking for something to watch with your kids during family movie night, this might not be for you. Ella Enchanted has a broader appeal for adults and kids and Disney’s 1950 animated movie is far more magical. I would recommend them over Sneakerella, a movie that isn’t awful but which doesn’t have the heart or the soul (sole) of the better adaptations that have come before it.
Read More: Sneakerella Ending Explained
Verdict - 5.5/10