I am already a fan of Sarah Strohmeyer’s work but “The Cinderella Pact” was not her best book. That being said, the adaptation of this mediocre book makes for a less than mediocre movie. The story is about a less than model thin girl who transforms herself into a self-help guru. The role of Nola Devlin is written for a plus sized girl, so instead of finding one, they just put some Hollywood twig in a fat suit. This is just disrespectful to plus sized women everywhere. The fact that her life only improves after she becomes Hollywood thin and glamoured is also a slap in the face. The message of this made for TV debacle is that fat girls can’t be happy unless they get a skinny girl makeover. And the “I love Lucy” premise is just too over done and doesn’t make the leap from page to screen smoothly. Filmmakers must be very careful when adapting chick-lit books to movies as many of the plots can be very silly, trite and unfunny.
Now, movie plot aside, let us discuss the acting, or lack there of. Poor Poppy Montgomery has little to no appeal as an actress and seems to struggle in carrying this movie. Her acting is weak and transparent. She has no chemistry with Horsdal or Wasilewski, her supposed “best friends”. In the shared scenes she seems out of place among them. The fact that Montgomery’s real-life boyfriend Adam Kaufman plays her suitor should have been ideal for chemistry. Suprisingly they have NONE. All in all, she falls flat in all her scenes and comes up short as a lead actress. It is Horsdal and Wasilewski who made watching this train wreck even close to bearable. They are both honest and funny and real in their performances, making them the only characters I cared about. Kaufman seems lost in his role, unsure about what he is doing. He is fine to look at but he did nothing with the part.
All in all, making a successful jump from page to screen is entirely dependent on three things. First thing is material, pick a good book to adapt. “The Cinderella Pact” is an OK book but it is not film worthy. The characters that Strohmeyer created are neither deep nor insightful on the page; therefore those short comings will be exacerbated on screen. The second thing is a cast. Use likable actors and actresses that best portray those in the book. If the part calls for a plus sized woman, use a plus sized woman. There are plenty of talented ones out there. There’s no need to put a Hollywood stick figure in a fat suit, i.e. Julia Roberts in “America’s Sweethearts” or Gwyneth Paltrow in “Shallow Hal”. The third thing you must remember is likability, for both story and character. Is the story one that will entertain? Will people care about the characters? Will people be able to “buy” the story? More importantly, will they want to buy it? In the case of this adaptation, it fails to meet all the criteria. The only way I’d watch it again is at 2am and my only other option was infomercials.