Published Mar 29, 2012
In one of Mirror Mirror's many overstuffed attempts to wring comedy out of base banality, Julia Roberts is the enthusiastic recipient of a bird excrement facial. Later, it's implied that a grasshopper sexually assaults Nathan Lane's character after he's been transformed into a cockroach. Both acts apply directly to how it feels to watch this insulting rush job, which revises the Snow White tale for no reason other than that it could, tonal consistency and thematic purpose be damned.
The film commences with the fallacious conceit that this is to be a telling from the perspective of the evil Queen (Roberts), which could have given this iteration actual purpose beyond getting to the gate first (the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman looks far more promising), were it followed through on. Instead, after the Queen's clunky opening narration, the film is structured as any typical narrative, adhering to the perspective of whoever's on screen, rather than filtering it through the view of the vain and childish sociopath as promised.
Snow White (Lily Collins) is as much the focus as ever, only this time it's not just her beauty, but her sense of civic duty that goads the Queen into having her disposed of. The Queen has been taxing the citizens into starvation under the guise of defence against a manufactured threat so that she can continue throwing lavish parties and playing chess against herself with human pieces. After being left for dead in the woods, Snow White encounters seven dwarves, who are acrobatic bandits with telescopic stilts, and they join forces to, um, rob from the rich and give to the poor. Because if there's one thing the Snow White story needed, it was to borrow plot points from Robin Hood?
The entire film is filled with a perplexing mishmash of ideas, using imbecilic contemporary parlance in a pathetic and insulting attempt to derive laughter from kooky juxtapositions that have no meaning. While every line of dialogue is dedicated to either rigid exposition or cheap, sub-juvenile "jokes," a few of the performers do their best to rise above the consistently embarrassing script. As Prince Alcott, Armie Hammer (The Social Network) displays enough natural talent and charm to nearly sell some of the cloying atrocities he's forced to utter. Likewise, Lily Collins and most of the dwarves seem capable enough actors, therefore it's uncomfortable to watch them deliver gags that are often little more than infantile mockery, at best.
On the other hand, Julia Roberts's performance has all the nuance of a hobo shaking his privates at a stranger. Her catty, mean and trite take on the Queen lacks any discernable motivation beyond the broadest of archetypal clichés; it's the kind of performance the Razzie awards was invented to recognize. There is so much horribly wrong with Mirror Mirror ― the magic mirror being a portal that leads to a pocket universe that contains only a room with a magic mirror in it, and a completely out of place Bollywood-style song and dance number being just a few examples ― that one could teach a course in how not to tell a story using only this misguided, should-have-been castaway.
Not even Tarsem's customarily stunning visual acumen can save this, with only slightly above average cinematography, hastily edited action sequences and costume design so overblown that Björk might consider it garish. When a "re-imagining" of a classic story displays this much contempt for the intelligence of its audience and source material, the fairest thing for Mirror Mirror would be to become the biggest failure of them all.