Movie Review: “After the Ball” updates “Cinderella,” with a touch of “Twelfth Night”


1half-starEvery girl, Disney has always told us, wants that slipper to fit. And with a new generation indoctrinated thanks to the latest “Cinderella,” that taste for tiaras isn’t going away any time soon.
Nor, it would appear, is the story — put-upon poor girl gets a makeover to battle her wicked stepmother and even more wicked stepsisters, a build-up for the big “ball,” the lost shoe that gives away the game.
“After the Ball” is a frothy little nothing of a Canadian updating of “Cinderella” set in the Canadian fashion industry. But the shoe doesn’t quite fit in this slow-footed farce, a vehicle for pretty blonde Portia Doubleday (“Youth in Revolt”).
Kate (Doubleday) is a new graduate from New York fashion school forced to work for her father’s affordable (OK, “cut-rate knockoffs”) Canadian clothing line. Because Prada turns up its nose at her.
“With your pedigree, who would hire you?”
But to succeed at Kassell Clothes she has to get past her scheming stepmom (Lauren Holly) and “her two devil spawn” stepsisters (Natalie Krill, Anna Hopkins, not bad), who are untrained “designers” set up to be Kate’s bosses.
“If I wanted you to have an idea, I’d give it to you.”
Kate? She’s been set up to fail. Which she does. But her vintage clothes-dealing godmother (Mimi Kuzyk) and godmom’s theatrical gay pal (Carlo Rota) conspire to send pushover Kate back into the company as hard-driving diva designer Nate Ganymede. She will become a he, “You know, like in like ‘Twelfth Night'” her not-fairy godmother exclaims.
Daniel (Marc-Andre Grondin) is the colorless shoe designer Kate is sweet on, but who can never know who Nate really is if  Nate is to use Kate’s designs to “save the company.”
But everything will become clear “After the Ball.”
The trouble with material this worn is the same that Kenneth Branagh ran into with “Cinderella.” We know what’s coming, so just get on with it.
Doubleday does her best Amanda Bynes but is not remotely convincing as a guy. But the pushy swagger she throws out there as Nate is kind of fun.
The stepsisters are stupidly vile even if the assorted gay men folded into this fashion industry tale never are more than stereotypes with a single funny line between them.
Montreal isn’t showcased in the locations, Chris Noth, as the dad, has nothing to play save for the chic glasses his clueless (and callous) character wears. Holly (“Jerry Maguire”) is still the queen of mean.
But none of it adds up to anything we haven’t seen before and don’t see coming long before this Cinderella’s shoe drops. Literally.

MPAA Rating: Unrated, with no profanity and a little cross-dressing.

Cast: Portia Doubleday, Chris Noth, Lauren Holly, Marc-André Grondin, Mimi Kuzyk
Credits: Directed by  Sean Garrity, written by  Kate Melville, Jason Sherman. A Freestyle release.

Running time: 1:40

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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