3.10.2015

Cinderella Awards: Stepsisters and Stepmothers

Today's edition of the Cinderella Awards will have us celebrating the women who make Cinderella's life a living hell: the occasionally ugly stepsisters and their always evil mothers. More often than not, even the weakest adaptation out there will provide a really strong stepmother. I guess it's the part all actresses secretly want to play. The harder part to get right most definitely seems to be the stepsisters. In trying to make them funny they err on the side of making them too slapsticky and obnoxious (A Cinderella Story,) but on the flip side sometimes they're neglected so much that they're almost forgettable. EDIT: And as a special treat, here's a personality quiz to find out which one of the Stepmothers is your spirit animal. TAKE THE QUIZ HERE.                                                                                      
THE STEPSISTERS

6. CINDERELLA 2015
Praise to the heavens that these gals didn't suffer the "three fairy treatment" that happened to some  formerly beloved characters in Maleficent. Then again, if they had it wouldn't have been so insulting since the characters they're based on are pretty obnoxious anyway. But basically what I'm saying is they're not totally stooges.. just one sort of is.

5. RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S '97

Best moment? I WANT A CHANCE AT HIM! Both have their moments of being unfunny... but they also manage to get some guilty laughs out of me too. 


4. RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S '65

How can one woman be both an ugly stepsister AND Ursula the sea witch in their lifetime? It definitely takes a level of some villainous talent! The stepsisters and their ailments are always humorous and this version of "The Stepsisters Lament" is definitely my favorite.

3. EVER AFTER

I really like this pair, it's one of the best things that Ever After has going for it. On the one hand, we have the pure evil Marguerite and on the other, the far kinder Jacqueline. It's kind of refreshing for Cinderella to have an ally in Jacqueline! But I'm not sure why she's doomed to the love interest they give her... even for comedic purposes. Maybe I'd like this movie more if she switched roles with Drew and Drew ended up with the palace dude.

2. CINDERELLA 1950
Oh, these stepsisters are just nasty... in looks and behavior. Their voices are grating and really they're just awful people. They rip Cinderella's gowns to shreds and show absolutely no remorse. I'm not sure how Cinderella could stand to live with these ones for a single day.

1. FAERIE TALE THEATRE
These two are hands down my favorite step sister combination. Both of them are so funny I almost envy Jennifer Beals for getting to live with them. You can't pick a favorite moment with them because every moment they're on screen is GOLD. "Oh, I HATE that door thing."

DIDN'T MAKE THE CUT: THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE, A CINDERELLA STORY, THE GLASS SLIPPER, RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S '57, CINDY



Which stepsisters are your favorite?

Cinderella 2015
Ever After
Rodgers and Hammerstein's '65
Rodgers and Hammerstein's '97
Cinderella 1950
Faerie Tale Theatre
Other
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STEPMOTHERS
8. RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN'S '65
This stepmother takes the backseat to her stepdaughters in this version. She's not particularly funny or incredibly memorable, but definitely what I always thought of when I heard someone talking about ugly stepmothers. 
7. INTO THE WOODS
Christine Baranski makes the most of her small screen time in Into the Woods and gives a fun, effective Stepmother. Maybe I'm biased because I just like her, but any stepmother that cuts her daughters feet down to fit a slipper is pretty hardcore, right? "The prince is looking for a bride, not a SCULLERY MAID!"

6. FAERIE TALE THEATRE
Eve Arden's stepmother in Faerie Tale Theatre is more on the funny side than on the fully evil side... but still she manages to get in a few sneers. "You kiss up to us, we despise you and everybody is happy!"

5. RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN'S '97
Bernadette Peters' performance is one of the best things about the '97 Cinderella. She manages to strike a good balance between comical and evil. But she's pretty much awesome in anything she's in.

4. CINDERELLA 2015
Speaking of being awesome in everything... here we have Cate Blanchett's Lady Tremaine. She too has some moments of comedy, but also pure hatred for our innocent heroine. She brings some depth to the role as a woman whose heart has turned cold from all the tragedy she's faced in her life. 

3. A CINDERELLA STORY
I realize this one may be a guilty pleasure for having it so high, but Jennifer Coolidge really is just relishing this role and she makes it a lot of fun. But she's not totally there for comic purposes, she too has quite a few digs for diner girl. "There's something I've always wanted to tell you and I think you're ready to hear it. You're not very pretty, and you're not very bright. Oh, I'm so glad we had that talk."
2. EVER AFTER
Of the live action Cinderellas, I think Anjelica Huston's stepmother is as evil as they come... and not in a two-dimensional way. Like Cate Blanchett's Lady Tremaine, Huston's Rodmilla has moments when she lets her guard down to Drew Barrymore's Danielle.. but even though she has a sign of a heart, she cares nothing about her stepdaughter. The fact that she knows deep down she still cares nothing for her is more hurtful than any insult she could ever say. Plus she's really good at humiliating her and destroying her precious keepsakes.

1. CINDERELLA 1950
It's no surprise that the same woman who was responsible for voicing the evilest Disney villain ever (YES I'm talking about Maleficent.. screw you 2014 movie!) also brought to life another woman who could conjure up nightmares. Lady Tremaine is just unbelievably cruel and knows exactly how to play everyone in her life to make her stepdaughter miserable. Her motivations are never clear.. but that just makes her behavior all the more disturbing. She is a GREAT Disney villain and I'm glad her legacy isn't ruined by Cate Blanchett.. if anything the new 2015 is a lovable homage to the animated film. "These beads - they give it just the right touch. Don't you think so, Drizella?"

FORGETTABLE STEPMOTHERS: THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE, THE GLASS SLIPPER, RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S '57, CINDY

Which is your favorite stepmother?

Cinderella 1950
Cinderella 2015
A Cinderella Story
Ever After
Into the Woods
Rodgers and Hammerstein's '65
Rodgers and Hammerstein's '97
Faerie Tale Theatre
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That's it for today! But come back tomorrow when we discuss PRINCES.

2 comments:

Sarah said...

Man, there really are a lot of great stepmothers. It's hard to choose the best one because I like them for different reasons. Eve Arden always makes me laugh. Bernadette Peters is always awesome. I haven't seen the new version, but it looks like Cate Blanchett nails it. Jennifer Coolidge is always so hilarious.

The one line that makes the evil stepmother in The Slipper and the Rose unforgettable though is when Cinderella says, "And in my happiness, I forgive you all!" The stepmother says (after Cinderella has left), "How *dare* SHE forgive ME!"

As for the stepsisters, the Faerie Tale Theatre ones are my favorite because they are so funny, but the ones from the 1950 Disney version definitely learned a little something about cruelty from their mother.

Johanna said...

Kind of like romantic comedies....one of the pieces of the puzzle that really makes it work or makes it flop is the supporting staff.

If I were going to play a part, it would be the stepmother. And I think I'd be good at it. I'm sure you and other would agree.