If anyone has been asking for a bland retelling of the Cinderella story with a spunkier heroine, a half-baked sense of political progressiveness, and a purging of all the cumbersome magic and ungainly fairies, here it is in all its lifeless glory. Set in 16th-century France, Ever After stars Drew Barrymore as Cinderella, a put-upon servant girl forced to wait on her stepmother (Anjelica Huston) and stepsisters while they conspire to snare Prince Dougray Scott (Another 9 1/2 Weeks) in marriage. When Scott mistakes Barrymore for nobility, he falls in love, causing all sorts of problems, some of which are eventually solved by kindly old codger Leonardo da Vinci (Patrick Godfrey). That, and the fact that it continues the annoying tradition of having American actors play French characters by adopting English accents, ought to pretty much tell you everything you need to know about Ever After. Huston, at least, oozes malevolence, while Barrymore is likable enough that her one-note you-go-spunky-girl role is made slightly more tolerable than it could be. (It's the sort of film where the heroine's intelligence is established by having others frequently comment on her love of reading.) Ever After is a deadening, protracted, flat non-spectacle filled with cheap laughs, cheaper drama, and some truly confused notions about class equality. It's also directed by Andy Tennant (It Takes Two) with all the flair of an episode of 7th Heaven, making it that much more worth avoiding.
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