‘Mirror Mirror’: Fairest of them all?

Mirror Mirror (2012)

Directed by Tarsem Singh

5.5/10  PG

The first trimester of any calendar year is bound to be filled with cinematic muck trying to give movie-goers something to hold them over until summer blockbuster season. In March, “Mirror Mirror” (the movie so darn good they named it twice? Not quite) followed that unfortunate, unbreakable trend. Snow White, played by Lily Collins (a bushy-browed British beauty), is sent to the sinister forest to die by her cruel mother, the evil, simply-named Queen (Julia Roberts, only slightly better than in her last role), who is envious of her daughter’s natural beauty. When Snow White escapes and finds herself in the home of a band of rascally renegade dwarfs (no Dopey, Sneezy, or Happy here), she uses their skills in thievery in order to avenge the small village her mother unnecessarily taxes (“Your tax dollars have been hard at work!” A clever correlation is quickly made between the struggling town and the current fiscal state of America…and between their monarchy and our democracy). And when a quirky prince, played by Armie Hammer (“J. Edgar”), is selected to marry the wicked queen, Snow White tries to save him from what would become a life of suffering…and of course, try to win his heart in the meantime.

The atmosphere of this imaginative comedy is as light and fluffy as the snow that blankets its magical CGI landscape. There’s the cheesy Bollywood tune, performed by Collins, that director Tarsem Singh (who wrote the song) thankfully had the sense to save for the credits. The milk bath taken by Charlize Theron in “Snow White and the Huntsman” (a much darker alternative) is reflected in Julia Roberts’ facial of parakeet poo and maggots, and the 7 tiny archers are replaced by a band of silly scallywags, hungry for love and food and giggles. But much of the time, their jokes fall as flat as Lilly Collins’ raven black hair. Roberts is even less enjoyable, though her witchy sarcasm rarely seems to miss a beat. Collins and Hammer have an undeniable chemistry, an adorable couple that you can’t help but root for. And alone, Hammer charms the audience into hanging on his every whim…it’s as if we were all entranced by a spell of some kind…well, moving on…it’s Nathan Lane, however, as the queen’s humble assistant, who provides the real comic heartbeat in this fable flop.

The marvelously choreographed fight scenes (led by Jean Frenette, who worked with director Tarsem Singh on “Immortals,” too) provided some entertaining sequences, using the strong, independent, semi-feminist Snow to fend for herself while her protectorate dwarves stand by.

“Mirror Mirror” is not the fairest of them all—it’s just the usual March fan-fare. But for the family, “Mirror Mirror” provides a few laughs, a handful of incredible stunts, and a familiar story told in an exciting way. It won’t win any Oscars, but it should win the hearts of families around America. And what more could it ask for?

“Mirror Mirror” is on DVD and Blu-ray today.

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