Yesterday, Disney finally released the first trailer for their upcoming live-action remake of “Cinderella.” And let me tell you, the classic 1950 version of this fairy tale does not hold up well. Shocking, I know.

After updated takes on “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Snow Queen” — each of which stripped the patriarchal elements out with varying degrees of success — playing “Cinderella” straight almost feels like a slap in the face.

But there is hope! Back in the olden days of the 90s, a movie came out that dare to ask the question: “What if Cinderella hadn’t been a meek pushover?” That movie was “Ever After: A Cinderella Story” starring Drew Barrymore. And instead of heading to theaters next March to watch little girls in the throes of “Frozen” fever wonder why Ella is just standing there, maybe dust off the DVD player instead. Because…

1. Danielle doesn’t put up with shit from anyone.

Photo Credits: Disney/20th Century Fox

The message from Ella’s mother in “Cinderella” is to have kindness even in the face of overwhelming cruelty. Wow lady. Way to set your daughter up for a lifetime of being a stepped on. I’m not saying everyone should run out and start their own Randian “Every woman for herself” fiefdom, but there’s a huge difference between “kindness” and “doormat.” Ella falls solidly into the latter category. Telling girls to suck it up even when they’re being treated like garbage is morally reprehensible.

In “Ever After,” Danielle (Drew Barrymore) finds herself in the exact same boat because it’s the same damn story. But how she reacts is the complete opposite. She has no better legal standing or prospects than Ella, but manages to rebel in a thousand little ways to keep her sanity and let her stepmother know she will not go quietly into that arranged marriage.


2. “Ever After” doesn’t pit women against each other based on looks.

Photo Credits: Disney/20th Century Fox

From the trailer, “Cinderella” is clearly falling back into old habits by having the stepsisters bully Ella about her looks. Which is A) ridiculous because all three actresses are gorgeous and B) such a regressive stereotype about women that even DISNEY removed it in later animated “Cinderella” sequels. But hey, live action remake, you stick to those 1950s ideas about what makes a woman worth anything to society.

Meanwhile, “Ever After” only has one stepsister that is clearly a bitch. But not because she’s jealous of Danielle’s looks: she’s just a shitty person. The other stepsister is actually friends with Danielle and they have a loving relationship, despite the disapproval of Anjelica Huston’s evil stepmother character. It’s almost as it human relationships are complex and messy instead of one-dimensional caricatures. 


3. Leonardo Da Vinci is Danielle’s fairy godmother.

Photo Credits: Disney/20th Century Fox

Ella gets your standard operating fairy godmother. You know, the kind that shows up out of nowhere and grants you wishes without expecting anything in return. The kind that makes you pretty and popular and tacitly implies good people get good things in the end as long as they suffered their martyrdom with grace.

Which everyone over the age of five knows is malarky. Instead of magic, Da Vinci uses science to leverage a cell door open, sewing to create wings for a costume ball gown, and the power “quiet judgement” to make the Prince see how shallow he is for initially rejecting Danielle after he discovers her true origin — that it’s more important to marry someone because you have things in common than because they are titled nobility.

4. Danielle rescues her prince, her family estate, and her damn self.

Photo Credits: Disney/20th Century Fox

It is 2014. Are we actually still making movies where a poor girl must await the arrival of man to rescue her from her terrible life? Seriously? Ella is apparently just at the mercy of fate. A passive observer in her own life, rendered incapable of making decisions to change her station or living conditions. 

The entire plot of “Ever After” hinges on the fact Danielle isn’t about to let things like impending marriage to a caricature of villainy, or sale of her ancestral home to pay off her stepmother’s debts keep her down. Instead she breaks out of her room, fakes being a noble to plead her case, saves the prince from a band of outlaws, meets Leonardo Da Vinci, and beats the tar out of her would-be husband before her love can manage to mount a rescue.

Mom. Wife. Geek. Gamer. Feminist. Writer. Sarcastic. Succinct. Donna has been writing snark for the Internet in one form or another for almost a decade. She has a lot of opinions, mostly on science-fiction, fantasy, feminism, and Sailor Moon. Follow her on Twitter (@MildlyAmused) for more of all these things.