Mirror Mirror wasn't horrible, and that's the problem. With a safe, even keel, this flick excels at being nothing special. It's not stupid enough for to me to be fully embarrassed for the human race, and not campy enough to be blasé. It's a prequel and also a bland retelling of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves fairy tale that's decent enough for kids. Damn it!
Sent with cruel intentions by my wicked step-editor, I knew my movie-going experience was fated to be nightmarish given it's spring break and kids are out in droves. And so I was turned away from this kid magnet after at my first round of standing in a line of exuberant children because it was sold out. Perhaps that was a good thing.
Surprisingly, Mirror moves often at a slow and deliberate pace. The jokes come in intervals as the cuteness dominates the action. I was hoping for an Alexandre Aja Mirrors where jagged glass shears skin and shards stab flesh, leaving them shrieking, but no such luck. Despite having visionary filmmaker Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall and The Immortals) at the helm, Mirror is dumbed down and restrained to make the PG rating and disappoints as a result. With its rich colors, Mirror closes in on Tim Burton's territory, but never steps out of a predestined comfort zone.
The performances range from good, to stiff, to adequate. Julia Roberts wants me to hate her, but she's on par with the rest of the flick. Nathan "Hambone" Lane does his predictable spiel. Lily Collins' Snow White is simply cute, while Armie Hammer (The Winklevoss twins in The Social Network) shows comic timing, but is reduced to awkwardly adorable. Armie comes off more like Judge Reinhold than a gallant prince. The saving grace is the seven dwarves. Renamed and full of fiery vim and bungling vigor, the dwarves are portrayed as bandits on inflatable stilts (that gets one point for originality.) They all deliver the goods as seven stooges with equal screen time and well-defined characters.
The current fad in Hollywood is to churn out these "fresh" versions of old fairy tales complete with contemporary lingo that yanks you out of the moment for cheap laughs. With the prequel concept, it's all about the "what if" proposition and the artistic license. As such, Mirror leads audiences to the poisoned apple, but never lets us taste from it.
In this age of political and economic conservatism, don't expect Hollywood to abandon its policy of recycling popular titles for pre-made audiences. In fact, this is just the first of two Snow White interpretations hitting screens this month. Next up, the "Hey, that's-what-I-was-going-to-name-my-debut-porno-flick" titled, Snow White and the Seven Huntsmen. Sorry, couldn't resist.
Starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane
Directed by Tarsem Singh