Would you like an invitation to our beta?
|Hilary Duff||Samantha "Sam" Montgomery|
|Jennifer Coolidge||Fiona Montgomery|
|Chad Michael Murray||Austin Ames|
|Dan Byrd||Carter Farrell|
|Julie Gonzalo||Shelby Cummings|
|Brenda Song||Kelly Anderson|
|Kevin Kilner||Andy Ames|
|Whip Hubley||Hal Montgomery|
|Peter Greene||Executive Producer|
|Anthony B. Richmond||Director of Photography|
|Christophe Beck||Original Music Composer|
|Michael I. Rachmil||Executive Producer|
|Keith Giglio||Executive Producer|
"Once upon a time... can happen any time."
"Once upon a time.... Can happen anytime."
The film starts with a ten-year old girl named Sam Montgomery (Hilary Duff) living in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, with her widowed father Hal (Whip Hubley), who runs a popular sports-themed diner. Hal soon marries a vain, self-absorbed woman named Fiona (Jennifer Coolidge). During an earthquake, Hal is killed when he runs to save Fiona. Supposedly leaving no will, Fiona receives all of his belongings, including the house and diner, and to her dismay, Sam.
Eight years later, eighteen-year old tomboy Sam is employed as a worker at the diner to save money for Princeton, where she is tormented by Fiona and her two dim-witted daughters, Brianna (Madeline Zima) and Gabriella (Andrea Avery). Fiona emotionally abuses Sam and uses unnecessary amounts of water during a drought. A running gag throughout the film demonstrates Sam's stepsisters participating in synchronized swimming, for which they are found to have absolutely no talent. Sam struggles to cope socially at North Valley High School, where Queen Bee cheerleader, Shelby Cummings (Julie Gonzalo), also torments her and calls her "Diner Girl."
Sam confides in her online pen pal "Nomad" about her dream to attend Princeton University, a dream which he also shares. However, "Nomad"'s true identity is Austin Ames (Chad Michael Murray), the popular, yet unhappy, quarterback of the school's football team, and Shelby's boyfriend (although Austin broke up with her, she chooses to ignore it). "Nomad" proposes that they meet in person at the school's Halloween dance. Initially reluctant, Sam is convinced by her best friend, Carter Ferrell (Dan Byrd), to go to the dance and meet her mysterious online friend.
On the night of the dance, Fiona orders Sam to work the night shift at the diner, then leaves to drive Brianna and Gabriella to the dance. Carter, Rhonda (Regina King), Sam's other best friend, and the rest of the diner's staff convince her to disobey Fiona and go to the dance anyway. Carter and Rhonda take Sam to find a costume for the dance. Sam, wearing a mask and a beautiful white dress, meets "Nomad" at the dance, and is surprised and shocked to learn that he is Austin. The two decide to leave the party to walk alone and get to know each other. After sharing a romantic dance together, Sam and Austin begin to fall in love. But just as Austin is about to unmask her, Sam's cell phone alarm goes off, warning her to return to the diner before Fiona comes back at midnight. She leaves without revealing her identity to Austin, and drops her phone on her way out.
Austin picks up her phone and begins a desperate search to figure out who his "Cinderella" really is, the result being that every girl at the dance claims to be the mysterious owner of the phone. Sam is reluctant to reveal her identity to Austin, feeling that he won't accept her due to her not-so-elegant lifestyle. Carter, dressed as Zorro, rescues Shelby from the unwanted amorous advances of Austin's distant "friend", David (Brad Bufanda). Shelby falls for "Zorro" not knowing who he is and Carter resolves to tell her who he really is the next day, only to end up being shunned when he does. When Austin comes into the diner one day, Sam is forced to help him and, after a talk, she attempts to reveal her identity to him, but is cut off by Fiona. Sam's stepsisters convince Shelby that Sam tried to steal Austin from her, and, during a prep rally, Sam's identity is revealed to Austin. Hurt by Sam's secrecy, Austin does nothing to come to her defense as she is humiliated in front of half the school, causing Sam to believe he betrayed her.
Like Austin, Sam had been accepted to Princeton, only to be duped by Fiona believing she was rejected. Sam then decides to give up her dreams and resigns herself to working at the Diner. Rhonda gives Sam a pep talk. When her stepsisters come in, they cause a guitar to fall off the wall, taking the wallpaper it is attached to with it. Sam then sees her father's words "NEVER LET THE FEAR OF STRIKING OUT KEEP YOU FROM PLAYING THE GAME", and regains her confidence. A fed up Sam then confronts Fiona about the mistreatment she's given her, she quits her job at the diner and moves out to live with Rhonda. Simultaneously, Rhonda and the entire diner's staff quit along with Sam, having put up with Fiona's abuse for Sam's sake all those years after Hal died. The customers, who watched the whole scene, leave the diner as well.
Before a school football game, Sam confronts Austin about his cowardice and lies. Before the final play of the game, he sees Sam making her way out of the stands, and finally faces up to his father that he wants to attend Princeton rather than simply play football all his life. He hands his helmet to his good friend, Ryan, then chases after Sam and apologizes. She accepts his apology and they share their first kiss as rain falls over the drought-plagued valley.
Soon after, Sam finds Hal's will hidden in her childhood fairytale book, which stated that all of his belongings belonged to her. Sam sells her step-family's fancy cars so that she can pay for college, and Fiona, who signed the will as a witness but claims she never saw that will, is arrested after being chased through the front yard of what is now Sam's house by the LAPD.
Fiona, Brianna and Gabriella are made to work off the money they stole from Sam at the diner, which is restored to its former glory before Hal's death by its new owners, Sam and Rhonda. Sam finds out the truth that she was accepted by Princeton after her acceptance letter was found in the garbage by her stepsisters. Also, Austin's father comes to accept his son's desire to attend Princeton.
Things even work out in the end for Carter as he makes a commercial for acne medication. After being dumped by Austin, Shelby then makes a play for Carter, only to be spurned in favor of the school's DJ. The movie ends with Sam and Austin happily driving off to Princeton, now officially a couple.
Theatrical : 2004-07-16 : United States of America
DVD : 2010-03-02
DVD : 2004-10-19