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Dan's Review: Mirror Mirror

The Snow White story gets a fun twist.
Mirror Mirror (Relativity Media)

Rated PG for some fantasy action and mild rude humor.

Starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno, Martin Klebba, Ronald Lee Clark, Robert Emms, Mare Winningham, Michael Lerner, Sean Bean.

Written by Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller, based on the story by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm.

Directed by Tarsem Singh.

GRADE: B+

REVIEW:


Snow White is getting two re-boots this spring. The first is Mirror Mirror, starring Julia Roberts as the evil queen. The second (Snow White and the Huntsman) will debut in June, starring Twilight actress Kristen Stewart, Thor hunk Chris Hemsworth as the huntsman, and Charlize Theron as the evil queen. The latter will be an epic film that looks more like part of the Lord of the Rings series than a simple fairy tale. Mirror Mirror looks more like Ella Enchanted meets Alice in Wonderland.

Julia Roberts stars as the evil queen who wrangles her way onto the throne using dark magic. After secretly disposing of the King (Sean Bean), the queen subject his only child Snow White (Lily Collins) to harsh treatment while sucking the life out of the kingdom by levying harsh taxes to support her rich lifestyle.

When the handsome Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) comes calling, the queen sets her sights on marrying him in order to save her kingdom from bankruptcy, but Snow White meets him first and the two hit it off. When the queen finds out about the budding romance, she orders her valet Brighton (Nathan Lane) to take her 18-year-old stepdaughter into the woods and kill her. Brighton chickens out and leaves Snow White to fend for herself in the place where a legendary monster roams.

Snow White soon meets up with a band of seven dwarfs (they don't mine diamonds like in the 1937 Disney classic) who make their living as thieves. They also don't have cute names like Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Grumpy, Sneezy, Bashful and Dopey, but have more gruff monikers like Napoleon, Half Pint, Grub, Grimm, Wolf, Butcher, and Chuckles. The dwarfs reluctantly take Snow White into their gang and training her to fight and steal with the best of them.

In the meantime, the prince meets up with Snow White once again the forest, is defeated by her and the dwarfs, and goes back to the queen to inform her that her stepdaughter is not as dead as she assumed. The queen then uses a magic potion to make the prince fall in love with her, and a wedding is planned. Snow White and the dwarfs get word of the nuptuals, and they kidnap the Prince.

Will Snow White be able to break the magic potion's spell? Will the queen use more dark magic to kill Snow White?

While not exactly the same as the classic Snow White story, Mirror Mirror resolves in pretty much the same fashion.

Mirror Mirror was surprisingly better than I thought it would be. There's quite a bit of fun and humor to prompt chuckles for kids and parents alike. The humor is laden with pop-culture styled references and language, much like the 2004's Ella Enchanted. The art direction costumes and set design of Mirror Mirror are similar to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. The combination is awkward at times, but the dialogue and performances make up the difference.

Speaking of performances, just about everybody seems up to their roles - except Roberts. Julia just doesn't quite cut it as evil, and she slips in and out of an English accent too often to believe it was done for some sort of ironic effect. There are numerous actresses who could have played the role better, but I suppose the conundrum would be who to replace her, without losing the automatic box office draw that accompanies her. I would suggest Meryl Streep, or Susan Sarandon (although probably too soon for Sarandon after playing a nearly identical character in 2007's Enchanted).

Even with Julia Robert's annoyances, Mirror Mirror is a fun family film that can be enjoyed by all ages, without stripping away too much from the beloved original Brothers Grimm tale, or the Disney classic.

One note: Although director Tarsem Singh is Indian, he's not known for directing "Bollywood" musicals. There is a "Bollywood" song and dance number that plays out over the end credits, much like 2008's Slumdog Millionaire. It's a little strange if you're not familiar with the India film tradition but kind of fun, anyway.


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