CPE & Em review Mirror Mirror: Bread is meat

Mirror Mirror – 2012

Director Tarsem Singh
Starring Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Lily Collins, Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham, Michael Lerner, Sean Bean, Lisa Roberts Gillan, Danny Woodburn, Martin Klebba, Sebastien Saraceno, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Ronald Lee Clark
Screenplay by Marc Klein and Jason Keller

CPE’s Review:  Julia Roberts has waited for a role like this for some time.  As the Queen, she relishes every sinister moment, plotting and planning the demise of her step-daughter, Snow White (Collins), with the same glee she had while taking the famous bath in Pretty Woman all those years ago.  That the rest of the film fails to live up to the latter’s classic status is not so much a failure of the story, which is a decent one, so much as direction and casting.

There is something to Singh’s directing style.  You either like it or, well, like it not so much.  Until now, his movies have been visual spectacles lacking any type of resonance.  It’s like looking at one of those Velvet Elvis paintings.  Sure, he’s the king, but I am not sure he is supposed to be fuzzy or glow in the dark.  That the story is better this time is more a product of the familiarity of the material.  They actually take the tale to a relatively interesting place, having most of the original elements, but adding the rogue bandit part of the story.

Mirror Mirror has the benefit of Roberts as an accessible villain.  She is on the ride of your life and she does not mind if you come along.  Her style, while sometimes cloying, is appealing in its sinister nature.  One can picture her as a real mean person, and that helps add to the story.

Collins, for her part, is a good Snow White.  Embodying the virtues and pure nature of the Disney tale, while striking out with some human touch here and there, she is a pleasure to watch.

The good performances pretty much end there, sadly.  Hammer is totally miscast as Alcott.  True, the script has him do some moronic things (Puppy love?  Really?  Really?), but his  overly literal acting makes it even worse.  What would it have been had MacAvoy been brought to the role?  Better, I think.  Kind of like a blue ribbon on swine.  Nathan Lane is, well, Nathan Lane.  There is absolutely no variance to his character in any film he’s every been in.  Just let me know when he’s on Modern Family again.  There, he is fun.  As for Winningham, this is possibly the first thing I have seen her in where I did not enjoy her one bit.

The 7 Dwarves are okay, as far as it goes.  They wanted to give them personalities different, but not too different, than Disney.  That I get.  Seeing Danny Woodburn as their leader had me thinking more about Kramer than the story, but overall it was a mixed bag.  Introducing 7 characters during a movie without the benefit of their name characterizations runs the risk of losing connection.  The jury is still out on how well it works.

Singh is all about garish costumes and sepia tone and there is plenty of that here.  Not my cup of tea, but it works here better than the other stuff I have seen him do.  The script has some good moments, and a few great ones (see the title of the review).  Because of this, Singh is a bit more straightforward here than his other works, but overall, I get surprisingly little enjoyment from his movies.  This one, at least, did not have me wanting to turn it off.

(**1/2 out of *****)

Em’s review: 

I liked everything about this movie except for when the prince acted like a puppy.  The best thing about the movie was when Snow White gives back the money to the villagers.  I thought it was a nice thing for her to do.  The Queen was creepy.  The Dwarves, they were all funny.  I would watch this movie again.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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