(In January, I released a series on the origin and incarnations of Snow White. Thus, I felt reasonably compelled to view and review one of the latest offerings).
You gotta love a movie where the hero keeps losing his pants.
Such is the case for the good, if slightly arrogant Prince Alcott in Tarsem Singh’s Mirror, Mirror. The culprits? Wily forest bandits who believe in “waste not, want not.” Worry not–this is the sort of fairy tale where the characters wear enough layers of underclothing to cover an elephant.
After the brutality of last weekend’s The Hunger Games, I was all too ready to have a laugh. Mirror, Mirror definitely delivered. It’s Snow White with a Princess Bride sensibility and a light touch of Bollywood.
Julia Roberts shines as the Evil Queen who is morbidly obsessed with maintaining a youthful appearance–her dry, cutting comments add great touches of humor, and belie her inner desperation to remain beautiful. Lily Collins as Snow White at first seems to be a wilting, pasty flower next to the vibrant Roberts. However, what seems to be a bland start is actually a great foundation to show her growth into maturity and confidence. By the end, she is bold and wise enough to make a decision that turns into a great plot twist. Armie Hammer as Prince Alcott is sufficiently handsome, well-spoken, and chivalrous enough to fulfill the duties of prince. He isn’t asked to do much more than look chiseled in his under-drawers, have some decent chemistry with Snow White, and on occasion, lick someone’s hand (let’s just say love potions aren’t always reliable…).
One thing I was particularly pleased about was Snow White’s refreshing humility and limitations. While it’s popular to have revamped fairy tales feature amped-up warrior maidens, I found it refreshing to see a young woman use her wits and natural grace.
Snow White wins over the dwarfs through her domestic abilities (since she’s friends with the cooks in her castle), and by helping them reconcile with the local townspeople who cast them out for being different. Though she does win a flirtatious sword-fight with the prince, she does so through trickery, rather than besting him physically. And when Snow White must face the evil monster that took her father’s life, she uses her empathy and compassion to see past its dark exterior–and makes a surprising discovery.
It was sweet to see a heroine whose journey to self-discovery involved more than just a couple of weapons and a “get-tough” attitude. Moreover, Snow White’s beauty was a natural asset to her persuasive abilities, not the sum of them. (go here for more thoughts on holy beauty, unholy vanity)
Sufficed to say that Mirror, Mirror is a quirky, fun movie that offers a great alternative to people wanting a break from the bloodshed and heaviness of The Wrath of the Titans and The Hunger Games. However, there are a few tiny cracks in this mirror.
One minor issue is that sometimes Mirror, Mirror pushes the silliness a bit too far. There are a few throwaway gags that cater to strictly to the kiddo crowd–and fail, judging by the lack of reaction of the kids in the theater.
Another issue: one scene shows the extremes that the Evil Queen goes to keep her youth, featuring maggot therapy and other bizarre beauty treatments. It’s a quickly-cut scene that might induce some revulsion. However, that’s the point. People go to crazy extremes for beauty.
Final Recommendation: go for it! Mirror, Mirror is charming, sweet, and surprisingly clever. The perfect bright pick-me-up on a cold, grey day.
Taste of the Fantastical
So, which costume do you like the best?