This gender-swapped Cinderella tale might feel a bit too sweet for teens, but its diverse cast, uplifting story, and genre-blending song-and-dance numbers are charmingly original and fun. Sneakerella is High School Musical meets In the Heights.
The action takes place in a Disney-fied New York City (read: safe and tidy, with happy people singing and dancing on streets and subway trains). It brings the HSM aesthetic to Queens and Manhattan with a bit less humor and a bit more street cred (imagine Sharpay on the subway), but no more realism.
Some characters deserved more screen time, especially fairy godfather Gustavo and celebrity athlete Darius King, but it's entertaining to see the usual Cinderella roles occupied by the opposite genders.
Its young stars are talented and charismatic, especially lead Jacobs and the scene-stealing Nekoda as best friend Sami. Underwood is underused.
Two highlights of the movie are a scheming number sung by the evil but dimwitted stepbrothers and a rap battle between El and King. In the first one, cartoon character shadows appear on the walls behind them. It's one of many uses of moving graphics and illustrations on top of the live-action scenes, and the whimsical concept plays off the sneaker theme.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.
Images courtesy of Disney+.