Sneakerella tells the tale of a sneaker empire built by a teenager and his fashion-royalty love interest.
Sneakerella is the tale of a young black boy called El, played by actor Chosen Jacobs, from Queens, New York City, who dreams of being a sneaker designer but is met by many family trials and identity crises. Just like the classic Cinderella story, which the film and its title play on, El has step-siblings that are always throwing mean-spirited curve-balls his way, and falls in love with someone who unlocks his freedom and dreams.
El falls in love with a girl whose father is a trainer titan and ends up helping El on his way to worldwide designer fame. The reversal of the now problematic ‘girl waiting for a knight-in-shining-armour’ narrative has been turned on its head, with El receiving a business opportunity, rather than just romance and the financial freedom his girlfriend’s wealth could potentially afford him.
Sneakerella is a mixture of musical, magic and real-world problems. At first the musical element seems like a turn-off, but gradually grows on audiences—the messages behind the musical moments are well thought out. For example, nearer the end of the film El has a rap battle with his love interest’s father, where he admits his integrity has been tested throughout the process of attempting to build a platform for his sneaker empire.
What is most interesting about this Cinderella story is the role and gender reversals, they turn patriarchal norms upside down. The film shows a more vulnerable male protagonist. El is a young man who has two ‘ugly’ step-brothers, and a step-dad who keeps him chained to the trainer-shop-family-business; organising stock and sweeping up after hours. El also has a fairy-god-father rather than mother.
There are several scenes in the film that bring El’s wild imagination to life, and the special effects used to do it are impeccable. As El dances off the top of a building and quick-walks in the air, it is made to look like he is dancing on a pane of glass. Some people will rightly expect that VFX is done well in 2022, but they often miss the mark. There are fleeting moments that take the mind’s eye out of the story, such as the skyscraper El’s love interest lives in that isn’t seamlessly integrated.
In terms of the acting, it couldn’t be said that there wasn a weak link among the main cast. Everyone plays their part while not distracting viewers from the building storyline. El and his best friend Sami (played by actress Devyn Nekoda) have a particularly good rapport that makes you more invested in El’s success. His love interest Kira King (actress Lexi Underwood) really maintains chemistry with El and makes the high school feelings between them palpable. Sneaker god Darius King, played by John Salley, is the lynchpin of a believable unified and entrepreneurial family unit, along with his wife Denise King, (Yvonne Senat) and Kira’s older sister Liv (Robyn Alomar). The synergy of the cast can be compared to Disney’s 2012 film Let it Shine, although there were one or two weak leads in that film.
Overall. Sneakerella is one to watch and is a perfectly cheesy encouragement for those moments when you feel like your dreams are going nowhere. The scenes are very well put together in that they flow and no moments are suddenly interrupted with other scenes that don’t help the story flow. Viewers are kept on their toes in terms of how the Cinderella story will be incorporated and adapted—it isn’t too predictable.
The film reawakens your inner dreamer, and is a hall of fame for trainer enthusiasts everywhere. Why not even try watching it in your favourite pair of trainers?
Words by Solape Alatise
Support The Indiependent
We’re trying to raise £200 a month to help cover our operational costs. This includes our ‘Writer of the Month’ awards, where we recognise the amazing work produced by our contributor team. If you’ve enjoyed reading our site, we’d really appreciate it if you could donate to The Indiependent. Whether you can give £1 or £10, you’d be making a huge difference to our small team.