Mirror Mirror’ on the wall, who’s the dullest of them all?
Daft, dazzling in design but straining ever so hard to be hip, “Mirror Mirror” isn’t your Uncle Walt’s “Snow White.”
?? (out of five stars)
Director: Tarsem Singh
Cast: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane
Rated: PG for some fantasy action and mild rude humor
Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes
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It’s still kid-friendly, with lots of positive messages, especially for young girls. But this flip and sometimes funny take on the classic fairytale is a mash-up of many such tales, packing in bits of “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast,” with a touch of “Robin Hood” for good measure. And as a movie, eye-candy specialist Tarsem Singh borrows from “Zorro,” “Time Bandits” and his own “The Cell” and “The Fall.”
Anything to dress up one of the blander fairytale heroines from the Grimm Brothers’ canon. Anything to hide that fact that his Snow White is too perfectly cast to play bland. Lily Collins, the gorgeous, bushy-browed daughter of pop singer Phil Collins, conjures up memories of generations of models turned movie stars. Not since Francis Ford Coppola slapped his daughter Sofia into “Godfather III” have we seen a performance this dull, whispered and charisma free.
Julia Roberts is the wicked queen/evil stepmother, and this story is ostensibly told from her point of view. That would have been a novel take, only they lost their nerve and didn’t follow through with it.
Roberts brings a hint of glee to playing a broad screen villain. But only a hint.
The queen has dispatched Snow White’s dad, and thanks to her vanity and her hunger for power, she aims to do the same to Snow White. But there’s a visiting prince (Armie Hammer of “The Social Network”) who could interfere. And the forest is full of dwarves — robbing, quarrelsome, wise-cracking dwarfs. “Never trust anyone over 4 feet.”
These guys, led by Danny Woodburn (of “Seinfeld”) and Martin Klebba (who stole “Project X”) are the life of “Mirror Mirror,” an otherwise spotty attempt at capturing the tone of “Enchanted.” They have these stilts that fold up like accordions that they wear for their robberies. They have names like “Napoleon” and “Grimm” and “Half-Pint” and “Chuckles.” Alas, they don’t sing.
“Mirror Mirror,” the first of this year’s two live-action Snow Whites (Kristen Stewart and an evil Charlize Theron star in the darker “Snow White and the Huntsman” this summer), has amazing images, from the opening
“Mirror Mirror” leaves us with “if onlys,” and reminds us that the original incantation missed the big point. Casting “the fairest of them all” can’t save you from a heroine as dull as her character’s name.