Mirror Mirror on the wall, who’s one of the most unfortunate directors of them all? Poor Tarsem Singh. The man may have a keen eye when it comes to arresting visuals; now if only he could get a decent script put in his hands. With only three films prior in the director’s chair, even with this weekend’s Mirror Mirror his first film is his best (The Cell, back when a movie starring Jennifer Lopez didn’t mean it was going to suck). The years have been cruel in the script department for Singh, even if his eye for set design continues to impress. Here, Julia Roberts makes you wonder why she ever came back to Hollywood if this is the best they have to offer her. It may have looked good on paper, but apparently, she said “yes” before the script got to the part where it smears itself all over her face (you’ll see). The Brothers Grimm (Jacob and Wilhelm) are surely rolling in their graves.
In this round of the oft told adventures of Snow White (with Walt Disney’s still the champion 75 whopping years later), we are lead to believe that this is the Queen’s (Julia Roberts) tale. She gives us a quick, Lladró porcelain figurine-filled backstory about Snow White (Lily Collins, son of Phil) and how she was raised a spoiled child by her rich father who later married a beautiful woman (herself). But then the King (Sean Bean) goes missing in the woods and now the Queen must raise Snow White whom she keeps locked up in the castle and the village people think she’s a grotesque shut-in. Snow White believes that the townspeople outside the castle are joyous and fancy free. But the Queen has of course drained them of all their money leaving the kingdom on the verge of destitution.
The Queen can’t help but spend the money on her luxurious parties consisting of live action chess games with out of town Kings at the castle, yet even on her 18th birthday, Snow White is told to never interrupt one of her parties when all Snow White wants is to spend her birthday at the Queen’s upcoming gala that night. It’s after Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) shows up shirtless, after a plight in the woods with those seven dwarves, that Snow White and the Prince have love at first sight. Much to the chagrin of the Queen, of course, who forces her right hand man Brighton (Nathan Lane) to lead Snow White into the woods and kill her. You all know what happens next as Snow White herself encounters her seven dwarves who take her in and eventually have a montage where they teach her to fight and they hatch a plan to take back the crown that is rightfully hers.
Alas, an onslaught of inappropriate-for-a-PG-rated-film sight gags (most literally) prevails. Featuring, but not limited to, an unintentional “That’s What She Said” moment when a sign outside the dwarves lair boasts, “No entry over 4 feet,” and there’s lots of talk about Snow White’s father’s dagger and the Queen’s balls while the set design continues to expand around everyone. Thankfully, the film has some belittled attempts at comedic relief in the likes of the seven dwarves consisting of Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno, Martin Klebba, and Ronald Lee Clark. But it’s all undermined with the loopy score by Alan Menken and odd editing choices made by the team of Robert Duffy and Nick Moore.
Everything is all cobbled together thanks to the excruciating screenplay from Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller, and eventually tries to stray into Enchanted territory towards the end, but it’s a far cry from that unexpected pleasantry. Plus, the poison apple is thrown in as a literal afterthought and an already available online Bollywood dance number is tacked onto the end credits. Armie Hammer making off the cuff remarks about focus groups lead us into self-aware parody, but it is totally out of place with the rest of the film which only sort of works when it sticks to its Snow White roots instead of veering off into Robin Hood heroics. Collins may be a great Snow White (although she seriously needs some work on those eyebrows) and has at least some chemistry with Hammer, but not even the old Mirror Mirror on the wall can save this from being one of the worst films of the year.
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