REVIEW: ‘Sneakerella’ Puts A Stylish Spin On A Classic Fairy Tale

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Sneakerella - But Why Tho (1)

Sneakerella is a Disney+ Original Film directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum, based on the Cinderella folk tale. El (Chosen Jacobs) is a kid who has dreams about designing his own sneakers – despite his stepfather Trey (Bryan Terrell Clark) working him to the bone and his stepbrothers Zelly (Kolton Stewart) and Stacey (Hayward Leach) making his life a living hell. While trying to snag a new pair of sneakers with his friend Sami (Devyn Nekoda), El meets a girl named Kira (Lexi Underwood), and the two immediately hit it off. What El doesn’t know is that Kira is the daughter of Darius King (John Salley), a basketball star turned sneaker magnate. When Kira convinces her father to consider a fresh new design for their latest line of sneakers, El sees it as the chance for his dreams to come true and win Kira’s heart.

It goes without saying that Cinderella is one of the most popular fairy tales on the planet, given the number of adaptations it’s received over the years. There’s the 1950 animated version from Disney, as well as the live-action remake from Kenneth Branagh. The 1997 adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, which featured Brandy in the lead role, is an underrated gem. Prime Video released its own adaptation last year with Camilla Cabello—the less said about that one, the better. Sneakerella stands out from the pack by reversing the gender roles and moving the setting to the modern-day era—specifically New York. And the story also takes some unexpected, but welcome turns. Though the “evil stepparent” trope is common in so many movies, Trey is revealed to be working through his own grief over losing El’s mother. This small change helps add more dimension to what’s usually been a stock role.

Sneakerella also boasts a talented cast. Jacobs and Underwood have the kind of chemistry you can’t fake and make their characters’ hopes and dreams feel real. Both El and Kira are trying to achieve their own dreams throughout the film. For El, it’s the chance to design his own sneakers, and for Kira, it’s the chance to prove that she has ideas that are just as great as her sister Liv (Robyn Alomar). I have to give major props to Jacobs, who manages to be a magnetic presence from his very first scene. Much like Jabari Banks in Bel-Air, this film shows that Jacobs has the makings of a major star. When it comes to the supporting cast, Nekoda injects plenty of levity throughout the film as Sami, and Juan Chioran adds a touch of magical realism as El’s next-door neighbor/”fairy godfather” Gustavo.

The film also boasts a great soundtrack, which lets Jacobs show off his singing talents. From the opening number “Kicks” to a reprise of “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes,” many of the songs are infused with a hip-hop cadence that may remind viewers of In The Heights or Hamilton. (In case you’re wondering, I checked, and no, Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t write any of the songs). Another page that Sneakerella takes from In The Heights‘s book is the grand choreography and sweeping shots of New York, thanks to Rosenbaum and cinematographer Matt Sakatani Roe. Certain scenes feature El walking on air and dancing across water with Kira. Not only is this visually stunning, but it serves as a way of highlighting the elements of magical realism that run throughout the film.

Sneakerella provides a stylish and charming update to the Cinderella fairy tale, thanks to its cast and some seriously catchy songs. Even if you’ve seen all the takes on Cinderella, this one is worth your time—and I wouldn’t mind seeing other fairy tales get a similar treatment.

Sneakerella is available to stream on Disney+.


Sneakerella
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Sneakerella provides a stylish and charming update to the Cinderella fairy tale, thanks to its cast and some seriously catchy songs. Even if you’ve seen all the takes on Cinderella, this one is worth your time—and I wouldn’t mind seeing other fairy tales get a similar treatment.