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Mirror Mirror (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 27, 2023


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 and Sean Bean.

Screenplay by Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller.

Directed by Tarsem Singh.

Distributed by Relativity Media. 106 minutes. Rated PG.

The Snow White story is suddenly the fairy tale du jour, being made into two dueling movie versions this year. (Three if you count the straight-to-vid modern update Snow White: A Deadly Summer, but we don't). Both of the films also seem to be looking at a slightly more adult look at the classic children's story.

Mirror Mirror beat Snow White and the Huntsman to multiplexes, and surprisingly, considering director Tarsem Singh's history of wildly surreal and violent horror (The Cell, Immortals) it would seem that this is the film that is more faithful to the story's children's fable background.

There are definitely some scary parts of Mirror Mirror, but there is a reason this has a PG rating. In fact, unexpectedly with Singh's famously vivid visual imagination, the world of Mirror Mirror is actually slightly underplayed for its wild majesty. Singh feels a bit constrained visually, like making a film that is somewhat appropriate for children is causing him to downplay his normal hallucinogenic filmmaking style.

So, if Mirror Mirror is a family take on the classic tale, what new does it bring to the party?

Well, as you can see by the film poster, to a certain extent, Mirror Mirror is trying to tell the story from the point of view of the evil queen. Well, evil is a bit of a stretch, since Julia Roberts plays the role in such an arch, self-aware way that even at her worst the queen seems more like a harmless prankster rather than a murderous despot.

In fact, the movie as a whole is very self-consciously jokey about its fairy-tale origins, sort of like a live-action Shrek film. Occasionally, the tone can get a little too post-modern - one joke about focus groups is absolutely out of left field for this storyline, but it is such a clever punchline that I'll give the filmmakers a pass.

The seven dwarves are no longer miners, these guys are thieves, complete with odd accordion stilt legs that allow them to run and jump wildly.

And Snow White herself is not just a gorgeous porcelain doll and asexual homemaker, this one fights, runs, fences and fends for herself.

It is all often rather amusing, but it is also rarely more than that.

The film is ended with a God-awful Bollywood-style musical number though, in which the Lily Collins' voice is auto-tuned so violently that you can barely tell whether she can sing or not. This is particularly disappointing, considering her father is a professional singer (Phil Collins), you have to assume she has a decent chance at having some talent, but it is buried in production tricks and an awkward Indian instrumental vibe. Oh, and no real surprise, director Tarsem Singh co-wrote and co-produced the song. He may want to stick to the day job.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2012 All rights reserved. Posted: June 26, 2012.

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