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Eleanor Ringel Cater

‘Mirror, Mirror’ — certainly not the fairest movie of them all

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

Just when you thought Hollywood couldn’t do any worse (“The Vow,” anyone?), the place regurgitates something like “Mirror, Mirror.”

Smug, bitchy and just plain bad, the movie isn’t so much a re-working of the Snow White fairy tale as it is an unwitting peek into the maw of the beast that purports to entertain us.

This is a film pitched to the grotesque mentality behind “Entertainment Tonight,” “The Insider,” Inside Edition, “ “TMZ,” and their ilk. And poor Julia Roberts — now apparently unfit as a romantic interest, since she’s a mother over 40 — is both the film’s enabler and its victim.

Let’s all agree: if she hadn’t signed on, it’s likely “Mirror, Mirror” wouldn’t have been made. But she’s not Snow White; she’s the Evil Queen, the wicked stepmother who checks in every day with her magic mirror to ask the zillion dollar question, “Who’s the fairest of them all?”

Well, if you take this movie’s tone to heart, it’s likely it’s Armie Hammer who plays the frequently bare-chested Prince. Little more than a footnote in the original story, he’s been promoted to sex object extraordinaire. Roberts drools over him just like an old queen…. I mean, Queen.

Since the Prince only has eyes for, Snow White (Lily Collins) and the Magic Mirror is touting the 18-year-old’s beauty, the Queen packs her off to be sliced and diced somewhere in the forest. But the Huntsman (picture, yes, Nathan Lane in the role) can’t do it and the girl ends up with those seven dwarfs. Only, instead of being named Sleepy, Dopey and Sneezy, they’re swashbuckling bandit dwarfs (!) with names like Half Pint, Grub and Butcher. And libidos like Mini-Me.

Oddly, the movie and the fairy tale are eerily on the same wavelength when it comes to female trouble. Though in vastly different ways. The traditional Snow White story hates and fears older women. So does “Mirror, Mirror” but with a decidedly 21stt-century Hollywood slant.

An example: To ensnare that wealthy young Prince, Roberts throws a huge ball. Part of her preparation is an Extreme Beauty Make-Over in which she’s slathered in some sort of disgusting paste (I’m certain that an unspecified animal’s dung is part of the recipe and I pray she made them use a body double).

Not surprisingly, the ball is where director Tarsem Singh shines. The director of “The Cell” (ick) and “Immortals” (double ick), he’s in Hollywood Heaven orchestrating all the over-the-top all costumes and the elaborate (though stunning) set design. Fluff-ing is so much more fun than plot, characters or dialogue.

I think I would sit through THE TREE OF LIFE again (well, maybe 30 minutes) before I shared another 5 minutes with “Mirror, Mirror” again. Speaking of unspecified animal dung…

Eleanor Ringel

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.


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