Once Upon A Song has everything a typical chick flick needs – it has plenty of catchy songs, a great dance routine and most importantly, a hot guy to gawp over. Between the saccharine-rich, yet catchy, songs, the witty script actually makes you laugh out loud. This sickly-sweet musical will leave you feeling uplifted, happy and singing, as if on a sugar high.
Once Upon A Song is a modern re-telling of the classic Cinderella tale. It whisks the well known premise into the 21st century, exchanging Prince Charming for the school heart-throb, swapping the horse and carriage for a sports car, and portraying the ugly stepmother as a botox-addicted blonde bimbo. The light-hearted musical includes a fantastic dance routine with stunning Bollywood-inspired costumes, as well as toe-tapping modern rock songs.
We see Katie Gibbs (Lucy Hale) a modern day Cinderella who is stuck living with her vindictive stepmother Gail who treats her more like a maid than a daughter. Katie has to look after Gail’s two obnoxious children, Victor (Matthew Lintz ) and Bev (Megan Park) who are constantly making her life a misery. But that was until Luke (cue teenage heart-throb) appears at their school. His father happens to own a record company, so Gail (Missi Pyle) agrees to let Luke (Freddie Stroma) headline the school’s concert after being bribed with promises he will bring along talent scouts. As soon as Gail – a sun and salon worshipper – finds out that Katie has been harbouring an amazing singing voice, she forces Katie to sing on a record and let Bev take the credit for it. In a bid to reveal the truth, Katie sings to Luke in disguise, but rushes off before she can reveal who she is. It’s up to Luke to find the girl who fits the voice.
This Cinderella story is different from the previous versions of the story in that it is a musical and features original songs sung by the cast. However, the modern story seems to deviate too far from the original, making links that are so tenuous that a younger audience may miss them. Not every youngster is going to spot this adapted version of the famous missing glass slipper scene where Katie leaves behind her song for Luke to find her with.
Once Upon A Song couldn’t be more ‘Disney‘ if it tried. The random outbreaks of song and the constant grinning brings to mind Disney teen movies like High School Musical and Lemonade Mouth. And there’s nothing wrong with that – it turns out to be more funny and entertaining this way. But it does seem a little unsettling and unlikely that two young teenagers are singing about love, devotion and destiny as if they are experts in these fields.
The witty script – penned by Erik Patterson and Jessica Scott – is cleverly constructed to suit all ages. Youngsters can laugh over the slap-stick humour and funny sibling banter, the adults can appreciate the references to the Rolling Stones and the fact that the plot pulls on themes from Singin’ in the Rain. Only the parents will be able to predict what will happen when Katie is standing behind the stage curtain singing for her stepsister, but youngsters will be left wondering.
The extravagant Indian-style dance number is made even more visually stunning by the slick dance routine and the dazzling costumes. The dance strongly pulls on typical Bollywood dance moves, from intricate hand twists to head bopping. However, this captivating and colourful dance routine may have been an attempt to make up for the lack of dance routines throughout the rest of the musical.
Overall this is an entertaining film which will leave you smiling, because as predicted, there’s a happy ending. It’s a refreshing-reminder of the classic Cinderella tale, even if it travels a little too far from the original. Appealing to both adults and children, it will certainly put you in a good mood.
A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song comes out on DVD on Monday 21 May, 2012.