Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
1. Clapton a papa
2. Green pulls another prank
3. Rosie reversal
3. McGregor accused
5. "Skippy" sentenced
6. WWF gets nostalgic
7. SAG saga
9. Report: SAG strike will hurt economy
10. FCC deregulates tv more
11. Music off the charts
Eric Clapton to be a father once again
Rock 'n' roll legend Eric Clapton, 56, and galpal Melia McEnery, 25, are expecting a child in just a couple months, according to Britain's The Sun newspaper. The couple met in 1999, and despite splitting up for brief while, are reportedly "really happy" to be back together and pregnant. Clapton's new addition is due to arrive 10 years after the death of Clapton's first son, Conor, who died falling from an open window.
Tom's latest stunt: un-impregnating Drew
Newly debuted director Tom Green (Freddie Got Fingered) told Jay Leno Wednesday night that soul mate Drew Barrymore is pregnant. Now's he's saying that Drew's not really expecting.
Green - no stranger to pulling stunts, both funny and unfunny - told Leno that Barrymore (The Wedding Singer, Charlie's Angels) whispered the news to Green right before his appearance on The Tonight Show.
But in a statement released by his publicist, Green said: "People always think I'm kidding about stuff. Jay and I were joking around and I thought the audience was in on it. We are not pregnant now, but do hope to be blessed with children in the future."
Rosie will return
Out since April 4 with an infected hand, Rosie O'Donnell will return Monday to her eponymous TV talk show, according to The Associated Press.
O'Donnell cut her hand in August while removing a price tag off of a fishing pole. The cut severed a tendon, and O'Donnell's had three surgeries since then, spokeswoman Laura Mandel told AP.
A series of celebrity guest hosts have filled in for O'Donnell in her absence. Carolina Rhea (TV's Sabrina, the Teenage Witch), Jane Krakowski (TV's Ally McBeal) and Barbara Walters have all pitched in to help the ailing host. , O'Donnell made a guest appearance Friday on the show.
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McGregor denies involvement in Tom and Nicole's breakup
Ewan McGregor (Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace and Trainspotting) told reporters that he had nothing to do with Moulin Rouge costar Nicole Kidman's separation from husband Tom Cruise.
"I didn't have an affair with Nicole Kidman," he said.
Cruise (Mission Impossible, Jerry Maguire, Eyes Wide Shut) shocked the public - and apparently wife Nicole - by filing for divorce after 10 years of marriage. A source cited in People magazine quoted Cruise as saying, "Nic knows exactly why we are getting the divorce. But she's the mother of our children, and I wish her well."
David Spade's former assistant sentenced
David Spade's former assistant was sentenced Thursday in Beverly Hills.
Perhaps taking the Just Shoot Me star's show title a little too literally, the assistant, David "Skippy" Malloy, shot Spade with a stun gun. Malloy plead guilty and was sentenced to five years of probation and 480 hours of community service, Reuters reports.
The Joe Dirt star suffered minor injuries in the November altercation that let to the shooting. Spade called police to report that his employee had attacked him. A plea agreement prevented Malloy from serving jail time.
WWF to recreate New York marquee
The famed five-story marquee and arch of Times Sqaure's Paramount Theater will be rebuilt by World Wrestling Federation Entertainment, Inc. as part of renovations by the WWF.
The WWF will spend $7.5 million to recreate the marquee on the building at Broadway and 43rd Street, says the New York Times. The passageway will lead into the WWF's store and restaurant. The restoration is being done from photographs, as the marquee and arch disappeared with the theater's closing in 1964. It was then converted into office space.
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Bitter infighting plagues SAG
The Screen Actors Guild is hearing a call for members to replace current union president William Daniels.
The call comes at a critical juncture for the guild, which is awaiting the start of negotiations with the movie and TV alliance, and may find its members in a work stoppage if the writers' guild goes on strike at the beginning of May. SAG's negotiations are scheduled to begin on May 10.
Variety reports that Daniels faces stiff competition from loyalists to former union president Richard Masur, whom Daniels defeated two years ago. Masur has said he will not run for the post again. Daniels has alienated the Masur faction with his push for last year's SAG strike, aggressive position with this year's movie-TV negotiations, his threats to split SAG into East and West divisions, and plans to reduce both the union's oversight of talent agents and the size of the national board.
Nomination petitions will be accepted starting June 4.
L.A. mayor's study predicts recession
Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan does not expect there to be a writers' strike, but a study commissioned by the mayor says that the local economy would take a deep downturn if a strike did happen.
The study, performed by the Milken Institute think tank and Sebago Associates consultants, said that prolonged strikes could cost the city 81,900 jobs, as unemployment would skyrocket from 4.8% to 6.9%. The Hollywood Reporter cited the figure of money lost as $4.4 billion, while Variety said it could be as much as $6.9 billion, if the strike lasted five months or so.
The entertainment industry accounts for 185,000 direct-employment jobs and $24 billion spent per year in Los Angeles County.
Riordan's tenure as mayor ends the same day as the SAG-AMPTP agreement, June 30.
FCC deregulates TV further
The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to end its prohibition on a major network - ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox - from owning an emerging network, such as the WB or UPN.
This ruling paves the way for UPN and CBS to both remain the property of parent company Viacom, according to Variety. It also opens the door for a potential AOL Time Warner, Inc. merger with General Electric that would pair both the WB and NBC under the same corporate umbrella.
Although the four major networks are still not allowed to couple with each other, Thursday's vote makes it clear that the FCC, under the guidance of new Chairman Michael Powell, is headed in the direction of even further deregulation.
Music sales dip worldwide
Sales of music worldwide dipped to $36.9 billion, a drop of 1.3 percent. Reuters cites International Federation of the Phonographic Industry chairman Jay Berman as blaming Napster and other free music sites for taking a bite out of the industry.
"This is the first evidence of the impact of free online music on sales, and it's not very pretty, especially for singles," said Berman in the Reuters report. But Napster's activities have been sharply curtailed by U.S. courts, and Berman remains optimistic that music companies will step in to fill the void and recoup lost sales.
The slowing U.S. economy also could be a determining factor in the sales slump. The industry also has faced slower growth since individuals have finished replacing cassettes with CDs, says the report.