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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Mirror Mirror | Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham, Armie Hammer | Review

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Mirror Mirror

Lately there appears to be a resurgence of interest in the fairy tale, Snow White. The hit new fantasy TV series, Once Upon A Time, features Snow White as one of the show's main characters and now the “fairest of them all” comes to life in two movies to hit the big screen in 2012. Mirror Mirror is the latest retelling of the Grimm Brothers beloved bedtime story and the other, titled Snow White and the Huntsmen, which looks to be a different and darker tale is due to be released in early June.

Working from a witty script by Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller, Mirror Mirror director Tarsem Singh  (“The Cell”, “The Fall”, “Immortals”) once again utilizes the creative visual style he has become known for and delivers another eye dazzler featuring a splendid cast that is perfectly suited to each character.

Beautiful, rising star Lily Collins (daughter of rock star Phil Collins), who at times bares a striking resemblance to a young Audrey Hepburn, and handsome hunk Armie Hammer make the ideal Snow White and her dashing Prince.  It is obvious, aging superstar Julia Roberts had lots of fun in the role of Snow White's evil stepmother/wicked Queen whose looks have begun to fade, but not her immense ego. And then there is funny man, Nathan Lane lending support as Brighton, the Queen's most trusted (or so she thinks!) hapless, manservant sent to do her nasty bidding, and he, as usual, is hysterical. After coming back from being turned into a cockroach, he delivers one of the film's funniest lines, which I won't divulge.

In this re-imagined, loose adaptation of the original story, lovely Snow White (Collins) has been kept locked up in the castle by her mean, jealous stepmother the Queen (Roberts) since the disappearance and presumed death of her father, the benevolent King. That is, until Snow turns 18 and with the help of her only confidante, the Queen's head female servant (Mare Winningham), she decides to sneak out and head for the village to see what life is like for the queen's subjects in the outside world. Snow soon discovers that the wretched, self indulgent Queen has never cared about the starving, impoverished people of her kingdom and has been taxing them to the hilt to pay for her lavish parties and luxurious lifestyle.

While wandering through the forest, Snow encounters Prince Alcott (Hammer) who has been tied up and hung upside down from a tree by a band of stilt wearing thievery dwarves who stole his clothes.  After freeing the bare chested Prince, to no surprise, the pretty pair lock eyes and form an instant romantic attraction before parting ways.  The Prince winds up at the castle where the Queen, married 4 times and looking for another handsome and rich husband, is eager to make him hubby number five. Knowing her feelings would never be reciprocated, she uses a magic potion to make him fall in love. Unaware that the potion was labeled “puppy” love, the Queen quickly discovers the Prince behaving like a loyal dog, licking her face and hands and jumping all over her. As silly as it is, Hammer who has proven to be a fine dramatic actor (in J Edgar and  Social Network) is up for the task, capable of doing anything for a laugh.

Meanwhile, after Snow has a run in with a tree branch, she is taken in by the seven dwarves whose names are not Grumpy, Happy, Doc and so forth, but are called Half Pint, Butch, Grub, Grim, Napolean etc. Snow adds a feminine touch to their abode, and they teach her how to fight and use a sword, which comes in handy as empowerment to standup against the villainous Queen who wants her dead.  Instead of the Prince coming to save the day, the tables are turned on the traditional story as Snow becomes a strong and able bodied heroine eager to take back her rightful place on the throne and rid the kingdom  of the Queen and her terrorizing ways.  Of course, she gets help from the courageous dwarves and the Prince who has captured her heart.

As a lighthearted, family friendly, fantasy adventure, the story encompasses slapstick humor, some very amusing back and forth banter between the dwarves, and clever lines that might go over the heads of kids, but which garner laughs from older audiences.

It doesn't hurt that the art direction, costumes and visual effects are exquisite, giving the film a high rate  on the eye candy scale.  Be sure to stay through the ending credits for a Bollywood style musical number.  It is a magical treat you don't want to miss.

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