Quick Take: A timeless tale of love at first sight.
The tale of Cinderella working hard and overcoming obstacles is timeless. She's a decent person and everyone will be rooting for her to get out of the clutches of her evil stepmother and hideous, bossy stepsisters. The notion of Cinderella and the prince falling in love at first sight is far-fetched, but this is a fairy tale after all. And despite some tense moments, it's a good character (the fairy godmother), not a villain, who wields the magic wand in this story, and that makes it more friendly for younger viewers. The songs, which help move the story along, are charming (from Cinderella's wistful "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" to the fairy godmother's magical "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo"), and the "have faith in your dreams" message is uplifting and inspiring.
Kids Will Like:
Girls will naturally be drawn to the kind, romantic Cinderella. Boys and girls will get a kick out of the little birds, the mischievous baby-talking mice, and nature's other chattering creatures that Cinderella befriends. Jaq, the lead mouse, charmingly calls her Cinderelly, and along with his mice buddies, are her biggest fans. Together they provide comic relief and, in a key scene, cheerfully chip in to help Cinderella get her gown ready for the ball while she must attend to chores and the whims of her bickering stepsisters. Kids will also like the colorful, easy-on-the-eyes animation and the happy-ever-after ending for our deserving heroine.
Parents Will Like:
Cinderella is very likable, and parents will appreciate her goodness and innocence and the fact that she never seems to get flustered or angry despite the enormous amount of housework that gets piled on her. She has an admirable quiet strength. The fairy godmother, who comes across as a bit absent-minded is another very likable (and magical) heroic character, tough but kind. Then there's the king, who is all about finding a suitable mother for his grandchildren. It's his royal proclamation ("If the shoe fits, bring her in") that leads to Cinderella trying on the glass slipper and becoming the prince's bride. But ultimately, it's good triumphing over evil and sweet Cinderella's patient sweetness and resilience that will most resonate with parents.
Very young children might be upset that Cinderella's father has died an untimely death (at the very beginning of the film) and will certainly not like the wicked stepmother who mistreats our heroine after her father is gone. Stepmother, Anastasia, and Drizella are incredibly mean to Cinderella, even ripping at her clothes as she's hoping to leave for the ball. Distraught, she runs outside and weeps. Of course her creature friends and, more importantly, her fairy godmother come to the rescue. There is the smoking of a celebratory cigar that the king gives his trusted assistant, the grand duke, when he thinks his son has found the girl of his dreams, and some wild sword-wielding when his highness learns that she's abruptly left the palace. The stepmother is particularly frightening when she comes upstairs and locks Cinderella in her room, effectively preventing her from being able to try on the glass slipper when the duke comes around. But this time Jaq, his pal Gus-Gus, and their furry little friends come to the rescue. For some parents, the king's obsession with his son finding a bride (i.e. a mother for his children), and their love at first sight and shotgun wedding, might feel like too much of a leap of faith.
Probably, especially if your kids are quite young or somewhat romantic. Although it's more a girl's movie than a boy's movie, it's a bona fide Disney classic, and one that stands the test of time (2010 marks the 60th anniversary of its release!) and stands up to repeated viewings. The animation is colorful and inviting, and the story of good winning out never gets old.