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Mirror, Mirror (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 106 minutes.

Marginal for children.

This fanciful retelling of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, strays far and wide of the original. Oh, there's a beautiful young princess named Snow White (Lily Collins, not as fair a princess as I would have expected), a wicked stepmother/queen (Julia Roberts), and there are seven dwarfs, and there is a handsome prince (Armie Hammer) all right. But the plot is changed considerably. One thing missing is the classic dialogue between the queen and the mirror. Julia never asks, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?", and since Julia never asks, she never gets the famous response. Since she never gets the famous response, her jealousy of Snow White has to come from something else.

The script is pretty tongue in cheek. Some may find it light-hearted and humorous. I found it merely tedious. The dwarfs seem to be all standup comedians, competing with one another for the best one-liner. There is, however, a pretty good sword fight between the prince and snow white.

One thing that really stands out in the movie is the production design (Tom Foden). The sets are beautiful and colorful. Although there was quite a bit of green screen, much of the film was shot on actual, but oversized, sets. The costumes are equally impressive, done by the late Eiko Ishioka in her last film, passing away in January 2012. According to director Tarsem Singh, "She didn't just design pieces of clothing, she created works of art."

So the film has some good points to it. I didn't think it was as funny as it was intended to be. The comedy between Nathan Lane and Roberts falls flat. While Lane is an accomplished comedian, the lines aren't there and Roberts has little comedic talent. They are a mismatched pair when it comes to creating laughter.

The film just tries to be too cute. Just as an example, at the end there are graphics telling what each character (including each of the seven dwarfs) ended up doing with his or her life, as if this were a story based on real people.

And it's far too long. This is yet another film in which a simple story is dragged out to the detriment of the film. There's no reason why it couldn't have been told and wrapped up in 90 minutes. The extra 16 minutes makes it even more wearisome.

March 29, 2012