March 4, 2018
Ever After (1998)
Grade: 52/100

Director: Andy Tennant
Stars: Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott

What it's about. A well-made adaptation of "Cinderella", set in Renaissance France. Drew Barrymore is the cute young woman whose well-to-do parents died long ago, leaving her to the mercy of insufferable stepmother Anjelica Huston. She delights in making Barrymore work as a servant on her own estate. Huston has two daughters of her own, both attractive young women but with different personalities. Marguerite (Megan Dodds) is a bitch who takes after her mother, who in turn favors her over sister Jacqueline (Melanie Lynskey).

Meanwhile, the moody Crown Prince Henry of France (Dougray Scott) doubles as the boy next door. Because it is a movie, Leonardo da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey) is there to paint and invent, though his real purpose is to serve as chaperone and matchmaker between Prince Henry and his dream woman, whom of course turns out to be Drew Barrymore.

How others will see it. Ever After was one of many commercially successful Drew Barrymore rom-coms, none of which command respect as great cinema, though The Wedding Singer (1998) was pretty good. Ever After did clean up at the Saturn Awards, winning Best Actress and Best Costumes, while Anjelica Huston had to settle for a nomination as Best Supporting Actress.

Today at, Ever After has a respectable 62K user votes, and a surprisingly high user rating of 7.0 out of 10. A gender gap is palpable. Men under 45 grade it a so-so 6.3, while women over 45 bestow a more enthusiastic 7.6. One suspect that most women appreciate the efforts of Ever After to bring something new to the familiar childrens' fairy tale.

How I felt about it. Despite the best efforts of the eternally cute and sassy Drew Barrymore, The 1950 Disney animated feature remains the best film version of "Cinderella." Comparing that movie with the present production, we miss the fairy godmother, here replaced by a cinematic Leonardo da Vinci who is all too concerned about the Prince's romances. We also miss the adorable, plucky mice, replaced here by ineffective servants who act as Cinderella's devoted spies.

In the original fairytale, as well as the 1950 movie, we know why the Prince chose Cinderella. Because she was hot. It wasn't because she unabashedly espoused egalitarian views, or because she had read Thomas More's "Utopia" too many times.

It is ironic, in several ways, that Danielle ends up with the Prince. If your position is that men should be equal, then you should marry a commoner, instead of the crown prince of France. Your role shouldn't be played by Drew Barrymore, of Hollywood royalty. And you should not have your cold revenge by converting your wicked stepmother into a servant. Isn't it enough to banish her from the kingdom?

It is a twist that only one of the step-sisters takes after their wicked mother. And some of the lines between Danielle and the Prince surpass the level of tedious, a hint that Ever After and the superior Erin Brockovich (2000) share a writer in Susannah Grant.

And it is a sumptuous production. We can add that Anjelica Huston is a worthy second billing, even if Glenn Close would have been a darker and less campy choice. The romance between Jacqueline and the coach driver is a quirky addition, though we do feel sorry for Gustave, who doesn't win Danielle, or even a Dana Carvey look-alike contest.

It was interesting to learn that Henry II of France was born on March 31, 1519, less than two months before Leonardo da Vinci's death on May 2, 1519. Danielle must have liked her princes young.