Tarsem Singh Dhandwar may have a highly developed sense of humor. I say may because I don’t know. Judging strictly by his work, it’s hard to tell. His features, “The Cell,” “The Fall” and “Immortals” weren’t exactly laugh riots. His new movie, “Mirror Mirror,” a comedic retelling of the Snow White story, doesn’t shed any light on the matter either. It is as amusing as you might expect from the man who brought us REM’s po-faced Losing My Religion music video.
Julia Roberts plays the narcissistic evil step-queen to the young and beautiful Snow White (Lily Collins). After Snow’s father, the King (Sean Bean), mysteriously disappears, the Queen goes all Marie Antoinette, indulging her every whim, bringing the country to the verge of bankruptcy. In her quest to be the fairest in the land, she also locked Snow away from prying eyes, but when the young princess attracts the attention of a wealthy young prince (Armie Hammer) the Queen considered to be husband material, she orders her bungling servant Brighton (Nathan Lane) to kill Snow. I told you she was evil.
Brighton can’t bring himself to off the young girl, and sets her free in the forest where she is found by seven dwarfs who help her find her inner strength and recapture her birthright.
As with all of Tarsem Singh Dhandwar’s films “Mirror Mirror” is beautiful to look at. He certainly has an eye for set decoration but in this case I wish they had spent the money on gag writers rather than lavish sets.
To be fair, “Mirror Mirror” is a family movie, but even five year olds deserve better than the old hat slapstick and word play on display here. Even the seven dwarfs on their spring-loaded stilts can’t put any bounce into this fractured fairy tale.
It’s cast well enough, Collins is picture perfect as Snow White—she bears an uncanny resemblance to the cartoon version—and Armie Hammer, should his career survive the dreadful dog impression he has to do here, has a future playing handsome princes. Julia Roberts is the headliner here and while her comedic timing is in place, the lines she has to say don’t connect.
“Mirror Mirror” is a misfire, ninety minutes that feels like seven years of bad luck. To quote a line from the movie, “Snow White? Snow Way.”