Mirror, Mirror is unabashed, mostly unironic fare
Starring Lily Collins and Julia Roberts. Rated PG. Now playing
First there was Ever After: A Cinderella Story; that was followed by Beastly and, now, Kirsten Stewart’s upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman. It seems like everyone wants to give fairy tales a teen-angsty edge. That’s why, as cartoonish and icing-sugar sweet as it is, Mirror, Mirror is a bit refreshing: it’s not trying to be, like, cool.
Okay, so a lot of the darkness of the original Brothers Grimm tale—and even the Disney film—has been removed here. Think Looney Tunes, or even Three Stooges, especially where the seven dwarves are involved. Except that silliness is blended—incongruously—with the visual rapture of director Tarsem Singh. This is the guy who brought you the surreal universes of The Fall and The Cell and he doesn’t hold back here, either: the evil queen–stepmonster (Julia Roberts) inhabits a castle perched on a pillar of stone that overlooks a snow-dusted forest of birch trees. When it’s time to consult her mirror, mirror, she walks right through its watery surface into a magical seaside hut full of looking glasses.
Her fawning servant (Nathan Lane) leads her hated stepdaughter, the preternaturally alabaster-skinned Lily Collins, out to be taken by the “evil in the forest”. He lets her go, and Snow White hides out with a motley crew of dwarves—ones that wear battered animal skins and armour and have names like Butcher and Chuck.
From there, Singh has fun upending the story, with a kiss, a spell, and an apple that all turn the tables on the original, plus a Snow White who is no passive victim in a glass coffin. The biggest laughs come from Roberts’s hammy queen and her love interest, Armie Hammer’s bumbling prince, who keeps turning up in his bloomers. “Oh, please get this man a shirt so I can concentrate,” she hisses.
If that sounds self-conscious and Shrek-like, you’re getting the wrong idea. Mirror, Mirror is unabashed, mostly unironic fare for families—the ones with young children. As for the Twilight and Hunger Games demo? It can sulk till Huntsman opens.
Watch the trailer for Mirror, Mirror.