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Cinderella Story is a romantic teen comedy starring heart throbs Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray

The plot follows two internet pen pals who met at a school dance and fall in love despite their separate worlds

Throughout the movie, the use of interpersonal communication comes into play in the relationships among the
main characters

Characters: Sam (diner girl) lives with her evil stepmother and stepsisters after her Dad passes away in an
accident. She is forced to work at the diner to save up money for college. She has an internet pen pal Austin who
she is in love with. Austin (football quarterback) your typical jock who is the star football player and heart throb.
His Dad wants him to attend USC on a football scholarship, however he is passionate for writing and wants to
attend Princeton. He is Sams secret pen pal. Shelby (popular girl) Austins former girlfriend and cheerleader. She
is the queen bee of the school and will do anything in her power to ruin the Cinderella relationship between her
Ex and Sam. Fiona (evil stepmother) lives off of her widowed husbands money and is the evil stepmother to
Sam. She makes Sam do chores and work around the clock in order to get college money for Princeton. Brianna
and Gabriella (evil stepsisters) they follow in their mothers footsteps to make Sams life a living hell. They will
do anything to be popular and go out of their way to ruin and embarrass Sams social life at school. Carter
(Sams best friend) is the typical good friend who is always by Sams side. He has a passion for acting which causes
his character to change throughout the movie.


One interpersonal concept we see in the film is uncertainty reduction theory

When Austin and Sam begin their pen pal relationship, they continue to ask questions about each other to look for more information and better
understand who they are

Austin and Sam do not meet each other until the masquerade ball, and even then he is unaware of who she is

During one scene at the masquerade ball, Austin asks Sam 20 questions to try and figure out who Cinderella is

We use uncertainty reduction theory because if we are uncertain about what others are like, we will have a difficult time predicting their
behaviors and the outcomes of our interactions with them, and this leads to discomfort

Sam and Carter
Sam is a tom boy working at her familys diner
labeled as the diner girl

Carter is a geek who is passionate for acting

Carter kisses Shelby at the masquerade and she

denies it because he is a geek who hums


Austin and Shelby

Austin is the popular jock, football captain, and student

body President

His group of friends are stereotyped as the dumb


Shelby is the queen bee of her group of friends

She is the head cheerleader and walks around the

school telling people to move out of the way

Austin and Shelby date at the beginning of the movie


Austins Dad is the typical masculine driven parent who wants Austin to receive a full football scholarship to USC
He wants Austin to adhere to traditional sex roles even though he is secretly passionate for writing; guys play

football and act tough not write poems

The football players are portrayed in a masculine dominant culture as they rule the school and are in the

popular group that dates Shelbys friends

People who live in a masculine culture value performance, ambition, assertiveness, and competitiveness


After Sam is dramatically revealed to Austin during Pep Rally,

Sam finally confront him in the locker room calling him a
coward in front of his friends and how waiting for him was like
waiting for rain in this drought

Sam uses a pragmatic guideline to tell the truth, the whole

truth, and nothing but the truth as she is angry that Austin
would not stick up for her in front of his friends. She believes
that Austin is being a coward and has enough evidence to
support it (he ignores her in front of his friends because she
isnt popular). However, Sam tells the partial truth when she
hides the fact that she also has been hiding their secret
relationship from friends.

Sam violates providing the right amount of information as she

discloses too much personal information to Austin during the
locker room scene. She says even though I have no job, no
family, or college tuition money its you I feel sorry for. This
might be too much information as Austin does not know about
her personal life and neither do his locker room buddies. She
could have given less information about her personal life.

Sams relationship with her evil stepmother Fiona is

filled with nonverbal communication

Fionas facial expressions towards Sam are always tense

and angry; pursing her lips together, raising her

eyebrows, and making narrow eye contact with her
When Fiona tells Sam to do chores she often uses

gestures like pointing her finger in the direction she

wants Sam to go which is a verbal indication
Her body orientation is often distant from Sam which

indicates that they do not have an intimate relationship

Nonverbal messages help indicate the different

emotions expressed by the characters in Cinderella

Story; the tension between Fiona and Sam is highlighted
by nonverbal cues

Sams relationship with her stepmother and step

sisters is communicated through paralanguage; using

voice to convey meaning
Throughout the movie, we hear Fionas voice in a

high pitch high volume and harsh quality screech

SAM! as she yells at Sam to do chores, cook her
salmon, or clean her car
Brianna and Gabriella also have high pitch and high

volume voices which contribute to their characters.

When they communicate with Sam, their voices
come across as stuck up because they talk to her like
she is their servant. The inotation in their voices is
not pleasant which brings their evil characters to life.


Sam and Austins relationship in the movie shows the change in

self disclosure and feedback of their Johari window

At the beginning of the film, both characters knew little about

each other which left their windows small

Next, they start to talk as pen pals and the open window begins
to grow more as they talk about their college plans and their
secret love for poetry and writing

Austin opens up to Sam about how he secretly wants to go to

Princeton despite his fathers plan, so his hidden window gets
smaller. Sam has a harder time opening up to Austin, but finally
confronts him in the locker room about who she truly is.

As the characters continue to find out more information about

each other, the blind spots start to shrink as they provide
feedback to each other. Sam calls Austin a coward and he has to
change his behavior before he can win her heart.

At the end of the movie both characters live happily ever after,
going to Princeton together and their Johari window has shifted
so that the open window is the largest of all four panels, and
the secret window is the smallest.


The movie follows the pen pal relationship between Sam and
Austin, however one of the rising conflicts in the story was due
to the disruption in digital communication skills

When you are communicating via text or email, it is harder to

understand the message someone is conveying as a text could
be sent by accident or the person was distracted while sending
the message. The emails between Sam and Austin were often
distracted as Sam would get up to do chores for Fiona or go to

Conversational spontaneity played a part in the digital

communication between Sam and Austin as each email was
carefully thought out and crafted before it was sent, which is
different than having a face to face conversation as they have
more time to react in the situation

Managing privacy of the digital communication became the main

conflict of the movie as Sams step sisters read through the
emails to Austin and exposed her to Shelby. They printed off
copies of the emails between the two and with Shelbys friends
exposed Sam during the football pep rally. Sam left the event in
tears as the girls read some of the most intimate details of her
messages with Austin.

Sams friendship with Carter is one that shows support

of each other as they go through the difficulties of

growing up

Carter has problems with his image as he dresses up in

unique outfits everyday to class. Sam often uses

comforting messages telling Carter to stay true to
himself which shows her true concern for him.

On the other hand, Carter uses a comforting message

to Sam after her confrontation with Austin in the locker

room asking her how she was doing and saying he was
proud of her.

Through comforting messages, Carter and Sams

friendship strives as it alleviates emotional distress

caused by others


The Passive Approach

At the beginning of the film we see that Sam takes a

passive approach standing up to Fiona as she fears

that she doesnt have the right because her future is
in the palm of Fionas hand

Fiona owns Sams car, house, diner, freedom, and

college tuition money which she uses as a threat to


Sam does everything that Fiona tells her to do

without standing up for herself because Fiona could

take everything away from her

The Aggressive Approach

When Sam find out that her Dads hidden will stated

that everything belonged to her she finally stands up to

Fiona using an aggressive approach

At this point, it doesnt matter if Sam attacks Fionas

self-esteem or violates her rights and expectations

because of the way she treated her before; and not to
mention that she hid Dads will for 20 years

Sam tows Fionas car, takes all of her money, and forces

Fiona and her evil step sisters to pay back their debt to
society working at the diner under her ownership

There are many aspects of the communication styles that relate to my communication style, one of them being that the

pragmatics Sam uses in the movie are similar to mine. When I am confronting someone about a problem, I look for
evidence to support the my true feelings about them however I tend to tell the partial truth without thinking about my
mistakes. Similarly, I tend to violate providing too much information to people which in the end effect my relationships

In relation to the relationship between Sam and Austin, I dont think I would fit well in this type of relationship (even

though I am in love with Chad Michael Murray). Most of the communication between the two was through texting and
emailing which do not appeal to me because there is nothing better than a face to face conversation. I believe that you
get to know someone better through talking to them in person; there is no confusion and you cant carefully craft what
youre going to say to one another. The conflict in the movie was how their secret relationship was blown up by people,
and this would bother me if I had to keep my relationship a secret for a long period of time.

The movie is not supposed to portray a realistic view of life as it is an imitation of the original Cinderella. For instance,

the tom boy who doesnt have many friends usually doesnt win over the jock football captain through her sophisticated
ways. Similarly, the relationship between Sam and her evil step family was a little over the top and not very realistic.
Fiona constantly nags on Sam to clean her car and make her food which would not usually happen in real life. Finally, the
happily ever after ending was not a realistic portrayal of interpersonal communication. Austin leaves during the middle of
the football game to kiss Sam as it starts raining, even though they were in the middle of a drought. Although there are
many examples of interpersonal communication in the movie, very few are actually realistic.