4/2/2012 9:01:00 AM Little drama but lots of fun in fairytale Mirror, Mirror
David Kanowsky Kudos Movie Critic, The Movie Man
It is not unusual to see a movie that is based on an old story, with a different twist and even in a different genre. Mirror Mirror is based on the Brothers Grimm tale of Snow White, brought to the screen in Walt Disney's classic and beautiful 1937 animated version.
Mirror Mirror is a telling of the tale with several variations. It is recognizable, but it does not have the gasping dark suspense of the original. Mirror Mirror is a lot of fun. There is the evil, ruthless queen (Julia Roberts) as the stepmother of Princess Snow White (Lily Collins). The queen has disposed of her husband, the benevolent much loved king (Sean Bean). She has driven the kingdom into poverty and the people, once happy and content, now live in misery.
Snow White is kept prisoner in the castle and not permitted to take part in any activities. At age 18, she sneaks out of the castle and finds her way to the forest where she encounters two men who were victims of a band of thieves - the seven dwarfs. The two men are a visiting prince and his valet. The prince (Armie Hammer) and Snow look at each other and sparks are ignited instantly.
Meanwhile the queen is determined to eliminate Snow from her life and she sends her top aide, Brighton (Nathan Lane), to do the dirty deed (there's no poison apple involved). He helped raise Snow and is still loyal to the memory of her father, the king.
The queen is consumed by her waning beauty and uses magic to maintain the appearance of youth. There's a scene where she is being given beauty treatments that include bathing with various emollients and consuming various live creatures. The scene is a bit repulsive, but it's hilarious.
Snow befriends the dwarfs and they teach her how to be a thief and to fight so she can cope with the queen's evil acts. The queen is intent on marrying the young handsome rich prince who can rescue her from poverty. Can Snow and her pals intervene to save the kingdom and fulfill her own love?
Mirror Mirror is still the fairy tale, but with a number of twists that bring it up to date and make it a very enjoyable film. A lot of the dialog and situations are lifted out of today's culture and seamlessly blended into the fairy tale. There are even a few pokes at some of the corrupt politics of our age.
Some of the film is animated, mostly to set a scene, and there are some computerized effects. But it is the live cast that keeps us amused throughout. Julia Roberts is terrific, comically overacting in the role of the evil queen. Lily Collins is perfect as Snow White and has beauty that is reminiscent of the teenage Elizabeth Taylor. Nathan Lane, as he often does, steals all the scenes in which he appears and makes us giggle, chuckle or roar with laughter. The seven dwarfs are played with great character and their roles are superbly written. Each has a distinctive personality that is very much part of the film's fun.
Special praise is due for the costumes and settings in Mirror Mirror. At the end of the movie, while credits are rolling, there's a wonderful dance number with the whole population taking part. There's no great drama in Mirror Mirror, just fun - lots of it.