17-year-old aspiring singer Katie Gibbs (Lucy Hale) is over-worked, bullied, and constantly harassed by her stepfamily - mom Gail (Missi Pyle), teenage sister Bev, and young brother Victor (Matthew Lintz). Despite how badly they treat her, Katie does their bidding with no complaints in fear that they might put her in foster care and is only putting up their emotional abuse until she turns 18 and graduates from High School.
In a dream, Katie performs a music video for her hit single ("Run This Town"). Then Victor wakes her up, demanding breakfast. At the Wellesley Academy of the Arts, of which Gail is headmistress, Guy Morgan (Dikran Tulaine) - president of Massive Records, Inc. - enrolls his son Luke (Freddie Stroma). Katie, wanting to change her life for the better, sneaks her demo CD into Guy's briefcase. Guy wants Luke to produce an upcoming showcase at the Academy; Luke, however, is less than excited about following in his dad's footsteps.
Back at home, Bev (Megan Park) wants to win a recording contract with Guy. Bev, however, is a terrible singer; the more she practices, the worse she sounds. Guy calls Gail, who is shocked to hear that he loves Katie's demo. Gail lies, claiming it was Bev's demo and that Katie stole it. Meanwhile, Victor steals Katie's clothes and towel while she showers, locking her out of the house naked. Unable to get back inside, Katie trips over a visiting Luke; thinking fast, she covers herself up using the WELCOME mat. Amused by the situation, Luke gives her his jacket. While Bev welcomes Luke, Gail barges into Katie's room and forces her to sing. Then, after shoving Luke out of the house, Gail plans to get Bev a record deal by using Katie's voice. Bev is reluctant, but goes along with this in order to win Luke's affections.
At school, Katie and her best friend Angela (Jessalyn Wanlim) hear Luke singing. The entranced Katie writes a song of her own, for him, and admits that she likes him. Angela urges Katie to sing for him at the Bollywood Ball that night, and gives her a costume to wear. Then Gail barges in.
Gail orders Katie to babysit Victor tonight, since she wants Bev to win Luke over at the Ball. Katie pleads with Tony (Manu Narayan), Gail's guru (who is no real guru but just a method actor from New Jersey who needed the work) to watch Victor while she goes to the Ball. There Katie leads Luke outside and sings ("Extra Ordinary"). He is entranced by her voice. Angela challenges Gail to a Bollywood dance-off ("Oh Mere Dilruba"). Gail loses and then leaves the Ball. Katie tries to beat Gail home, but with no success. Now it's Katie's turn to get blackmailed: Gail vows to expel Angela from the Academy - which will ruin her chances of getting into Juilliard - unless Katie sings for Bev. To save Angela's music career, Katie goes along with Gail.
Luke wants to find the girl who sang for him. In the music room, he sees Bev lip-syncing to Katie's voice ("Make You Believe"). Jumping to the obvious-but-wrong conclusion, Luke falls for Bev and invites her to write more songs with him. Much to Bev's horror, he treats her out to a restaurant that evening. Luke is amazed by Bev's musical aptitude, unaware that Katie is texting to her what she should say (because Bev forced her to help). The next day, Luke drops by Bev's house and hits it off with Victor, to whom he gives guitar lessons. Katie also reconnects with Luke, who doesn't like it when she has to head out again - this time, to throw away Gail's prized portrait, which Victor has ruined by cutting out her face. Bev cuts in on Luke, whom she then forces Victor to help her deceive by using miniature electronic-communication devices, so that Katie can coach her through another date. Katie puts together a song on the spot ("Possibilities"), which Luke sings, thinking it's Bev's. She and Luke kiss, which breaks Katie's heart. Victor takes notice of Katie's distress and sympathizes with her.
Luke falls in love with Bev, unaware that her singing and songwriting talents are actually Katie's. Later, Gail reveals that she has access to the savings account opened by Katie's late father; ergo, if Katie doesn't submit to her stepfamily's will, she'll be cut off without a cent. Victor also discovers that his family's money is rightfully Katie's. As it turns out, Victor himself is frequently mistreated by Bev and their mom; he shares no more affection with them than Katie does and he only went along with their mistreatment of Katie because he was afraid of his Mother and older sister and he was afraid of what they would do to him if he did not go along with it. Feeling guilty over not having had a better relationship with Katie over the years - among other things, she's the only one who remembers his birthday - Victor agrees to help expose the fraud perpetrated by his family.
At the showcase, Victor sabotages Bev's performance of ("Make You Believe") by destroying her iPhone, on which is Katie's recorded singing voice. After threatening to drown Victor in the kitchen sink for what he's just done, Gail forces Katie to sing live backstage. Luke trips over what's happening; he realizes at last that Bev is a fake, and that beautiful voice is actually Katie's.
During Bev's second performance, Luke steals a videocamera and films Katie singing backstage, thus exposing the whole charade. Gail tries to stop Luke, but Tony stops her first. Victor and Angela bring Katie onstage to perform another song ("Bless Myself"). Katie and Luke admit their feelings for each other. Guy also loves Katie's performance, and green-lights Luke to produce an album for her. He even agrees to help Angela get into Juilliard. Katie also stands up for Victor by threatening to report Gail to Child Protective Services for her years of abuse and neglect of him if she doesn't start treating him better.
In a mid-credits scene, Guy vows to tell the school board what he thinks of Gail, who is removed as headmistress of Wellesley Academy. Even Bev is delighted to be rid of her mom, being no stranger herself to Gail's manipulative ways. Gail soon finds herself back to where she started decades before: singing (horribly) at a ranch, where she is bombarded with fruit and booed off the stage.Lucy Hale as Katie GibbsFreddie Stroma as Luke MorganMissi Pyle as Gail Van RavenswayMegan Park as Beverly "Bev" Van RavenswayMatthew Lintz as Victor Van RavenswayJessalyn Wanlim as AngelaManu Narayan as Ravi / Tony GuptaTitus Makin Jr. as Mickey O' MalleyDikran Tulaine as Guy MorganLucy Davenport as Ms. PlumbergOnira Tares as Crazy Girl
A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song is a soundtrack album by the film of the same name, released on September 6, 2011 by WaterTower Music (The same day as the film's release).Track listing
The film received mixed reviews although it did not get criticized by Metacritic. It achieved 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Rotten audience also rate the film 3.3/5 with the 254 users. Mike McGranaghan of The Aisle Seat scored the film one and 1⁄2 out of four, said: "A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song is like a movie version of iCarly or Victorious or any of those other tween girl shows that combine broad physical humor, mild expressions of pubescent sexuality and fantasies of becoming famous". The DVD Sleuth gave the film 1 out of 2.