Sneakerella Review: Chosen Jacobs's gender-swapped version of Cinderella is a heartwarming tale

El Morales is an aspirant sneaker designer from Queens who works as a stock boy in his late mother's shoe store. Read Pinkvilla's review of the film below.

Updated on May 18, 2022 11:16 AM IST  |  97K
Sneakerella Review
Chosen Jacobs's gender-swapped version of Cinderella is a heartwarming tale
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Sneakerella

Sneakerella Cast: Chosen Jacobs, Devyn Nekoda, John Salley

Sneakerella Director: Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum

Sneakerella Platform: Disney+

Sneakerella  Stars: 3/5

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Cinderella's narrative has been recounted in a variety of ways, going back to its initial source, the ancient Greek myth of Rhodopis — a story about an eagle stealing a slave girl's sandal and carrying it to a king. He then despatched men in all directions into the country in search of the lady who wore the sandal, and when she was discovered in the city of Naucratis, she was carried up to Memphis and became the king's bride. However, Sneakerella's narrative is told in a manner more like Disney's animated adaptation, which was largely influenced by Charles Perrault's fairy tale of the same name. 

Disney seems to have learned that advising small girls that meeting a prince is their ultimate goal isn't exactly the greatest message. Sneakerella, a modern-day gender-flip of the traditional Cinderella narrative, continues the princess transformation on Disney+. The film is also ethnically and culturally diverse, which is happily becoming more common as Disney strives to remedy decades of portraying primarily young, white princesses. Of course, there are the conventions: the ugly step-sisters and stepmother, the fairy godmother-like role model, the slipper, and the midnight regulations. However, with Chosen Jacobs' El as our protagonist, everything is nearly gender-bent.

El (Chosen Jacobs) is a skilled shoe designer who is forced to work in the stockroom of his shoe company by his mourning stepdad Trey (Bryan Terrell Clark) and scheming stepbrothers Zelly (Kolton Stewart) and Stacy (Hayward Leach). When El and his closest buddy Sami (Devyn Nekoda) go downtown to acquire a pair of freshly launched sneakers, they run across Kira King (Lexi Underwood). They don't identify her as the daughter of sneaker mogul and former player Darius King, dubbed "sneaker royalty" (John Salley). El and Kira spend the whole day together and begin to fall in love. El attracts attention with his unique kicks when her family throws an event encouraging new designers to fight for a contract. He barely makes it to the event but thanks to his local buddy, and his fairy god-father, the mystical Gustavo (Juan Chioran). Will Kira's father take a risk on an untested designer, and how will this affect El and Kira's emotions toward one another?

 

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Sneakerella manages to make the narrative seem fresh and new by twisting a familiar setting and familiar people. Darius King, played by Jack Salley, is inspired by his own personal experiences. Salley is an NBA All-Star with two children, in case you didn't know. So, in many ways, this position is incredibly personal to him. El's best friend Sami, portrayed by Devyn Nekoda, is my favourite character! Everybody could need a buddy like her. She believes in El, encourages him to achieve better, and cheers him on in all he does.

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This gender-flipped Cinderella story maybe will be a little too sweet for teenagers, but its varied ensemble, uplifting premise, and genre-blending song-and-dance routines are pleasantly unique and entertaining. Sneakerella is a cross between High School Musical and In the Heights. The setting is a Disney-fied New York City (read: safe and tidy, with happy people singing and dancing on streets and subway trains). It transfers the HSM image to Queens and Manhattan with less levity and more street cred (picture Sharpay riding the subway) Some characters, particularly fairy godfather Gustavo and star athlete Darius King, needed more screen time, but it's interesting to watch the standard Cinderella roles played by the opposite genders. Its youthful talents, notably protagonist Jacobs and scene-stealing Nekoda as best buddy Sami, are skilled and engaging. Underwood receives insufficient attention. A cunning piece performed by the villainous yet dimwitted stepbrothers and a rap fight between El and King are two highlights of the film.

To sum up, 'Sneakerella' may be based on well-known material, and it may even include a few allusions to 'Romeo & Juliet,' but this new rendition is well worth your time. I've never seen anything like this take on the famous 'Cinderella' tale before, and the bright youthful ensemble will easily win you over.

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