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article imageReview: ‘Mirror Mirror’ is a fragmented reflection Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 30, 2012 in Entertainment
‘Mirror Mirror’ is the latest adaptation of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’, taking a comedic approach to the classic tale.
The Snow White fairy tale has been given a fair amount of attention between the small and big screens recently. The television show Once Upon a Time parallels it with a real world romance, and later this year Snow White and the Huntsman will be released in theatres. But in between these two sits Mirror Mirror, which is cheerier and geared towards a younger audience than the other two interpretations.
After Snow White's (Lily Collins) father (Sean Bean) died, The Queen (Julia Roberts) took charge of the land and all merriment ceased. Her obsession with youth and beauty had sucked the kingdom dry, so she was in the market to find and marry a rich bachelor. In the meantime, Snow was kept prisoner in her own home. But on her 18th birthday, a loyal servant (Mare Winningham) encourages Snow to venture beyond the castle walls and witness the despair The Queen has caused. During her journey, she meets a handsome stranger who turns out to be Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer), the man The Queen hopes to wed. Determined to end The Queen's tyranny, Snow partners with a group of thieving dwarves leaving the prince to decide with whom his loyalty lays.
This is a light-hearted adaptation of the classic tale. The Queen is a caricature of the evil stepmother, always smiling even while insulting whoever has happened to cross her path. Snow is compelled by youthful rebellion, but never stops being sugary. The prince is handsome, but his mental faculties do not equal his physical prowess. And the dwarves – Butcher, Chuck, Half-pint, Grimm, Grub, Napoleon and Wolf - are feisty, acrobatic outcasts that in no way resemble the Disney miners. The traditional narrative is only used as a foundation for a battle of good versus evil as there are many liberties taken with the characters and the story.
The dialogue is humorous as it in some ways parodies the genre stereotypes, or plays up the comedic elements in a given scene. The Queen sasses her stepdaughter in the prologue, making fun of her name and obsessing about her own looks. However, it often also takes it one step too far ruining what was actually a funny moment. For example, a couple of faceless guards engage in amusing banter about not telling anyone that Snow White left the castle - which they then conclude with an out of place "pinky swear." This is likely an attempt to connect to younger viewers, but it doesn't really play as a kid’s movie to start and was more laugh-worthy without it.
The opening sequence is stunning, portrayed through a combination of puppets and animation. A feature-length film in this style would be welcome. Filmmakers do a fantastic job of showing audiences how Snow came to her current predicament as well as instilling a true sense of whimsy into the narrative.
Nathan Lane is a show stealer as the cowardly sarcastic servant to The Queen. He takes her ridiculous orders in ironic agreement and mocks her under his breath regularly. Roberts could never play an entirely evil character effectively; however, a neurotic, "good old fashioned crazy" witch appears to fit well into her repertoire. Collins is undeniably and appropriately sweet, and Hammer is charmingly funny as he is constantly in search for a shirt.
Closing the film with a Bollywood rendition of "I Believe in Love" is an awkward choice by director Tarsem Singh. Ella Enchanted closed with a musical number, but song was spread throughout the movie so it fit. This is just one more incompatible element that detracts from the already only moderate entertainment value of the film.
Director: Tarsem Singh
Starring: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer
More about Mirror Mirror, Lily Collins, Julia roberts, Nathan lane, armie hammer
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