'After the Ball': Film Review

After the Ball Still - H 2015
Takashi Seida

After the Ball Still - H 2015

This "Cinderella"-inspired tale quickly turns into a pumpkin

An aspiring fashion designer dons a male disguise to outwit her evil stepmother in this mash-up of "Cinderella" and "Twelfth Night"

A budding young fashion designer must battle her evil stepmother and stepsisters, donning a male disguise in the process, in Sean Garrity's awkward mash-up of Cinderella and Twelfth Night. Featuring enough stereotypical characterizations and situations to fuel a dozen artificial rom-coms, After the Ball pretty much drops the ball in every aspect, although younger viewers may get a kick out of the allusions to one of their favorite fairy tales.

Recent fashion school graduate Kate (Portia Doubleday) dreams of designing couture clothing, but finds that no respectable company will hire her since she's the progeny of Lee Kassell (Chris Noth, donning Yves Saint-Laurent-style eyeglasses), the head of a low-rent Montreal clothing company that specializes in knocking off high-end designs. So she's forced to go to work for her father, quickly attracting the ire of his scheming wife (Lauren Holly) and clueless daughters (Natalie Krill, Anna Hopkins).

Read More 10 Jokers That Led to Jared Leto's 'Suicide Squad' Look

Framed with leaking the company's designs to a rival (Colin Mochrie), Kate is soon fired by her oblivious father. Seeking solace from her godmother (Mimi Kuzyk)—the "fairy" part comes in the form of her effeminate gay friend (Carlo Rott, channeling Stanley Tucci's turn in yet another of the film's inspirations, The Devil Wears Prada)—she's advised to transform herself into hot-shot designer "Nate Ganymede" and rejoin the company as a man.

"You know, like in Twelfth Night," the godmother explains, just in case the audience doesn't get it.

So, after undergoing the least convincing cross-dressing alteration since Gene Hackman in The Birdcage (Doubleday, sporting awkward facial hair and prosthetics, looks like she should be trick-or-treating), Kate manages to fool everyone and become the company's star designer. That she manages to get the goods on her wicked stepmother is a foregone conclusion, as is the resolution of her burgeoning romance with a handsome footwear designer (Marc-Andre Grondin) who had earlier, you guessed it, fitted her with a gleaming, high-heeled shoe.

Read More Sarah Hyland Talks Producing and Playing Complicated in 'See You in Valhalla' (Q&A)

Attempting to make its lead character wackily endearing by showing her falling down endlessly, After the Ball is more sophomoric than truly objectionable, although the profusion of gay stereotypes on display makes it lean toward the latter. Much like the wares of the fashion design company it depicts, it mainly resembles a cheap-looking knock-off of its far superior inspirations.

Production: Martinelli Films, Don Carmody Productions, Jane Silverstone-Segal Productions 
Cast: Portia Doubleday, Chris Noth, Lauren Holly, Marc-Andre Grondin, Colin Mochrie, Anna Hopkins, Natalie Krill, Mimi Kuzyk, Carlo Rota, David Michael
Director: Sean Garrity
Screenwriters: Jason Sherman, Kate Melville
Producers: Don Carmody, Gabriella Martinelli, Robin Crumley, Jane Silverstone-Segal
Executive producers: Kirk D'Amico, Emily Alden, Kevin Forester, Jane Silverstone-Segal
Director of photography: Pierre Gill
Production designer: Patricia Christie
Editor: Erin Keck
Costume designer: Mario Davignon
Composer: Ari Posner 
Casting: Andrea Kenyon, Mary Jo Slater, Randi Wells

Not rated, 102 min.