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.
Fahrenheit heats up box office
Michael Moore's controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 broke single-day box office records at the two New York theaters where it played Wednesday, Reuters reports. The movie, which criticizes President Bush and the war in Iraq, sold $49,000 worth of tickets at the Loew's Village 7 theater, beating the venue's single-day record of $43,435 held by 1997's Men in Black, according to distributors Lions Gate Films and IFC Films, while at the Lincoln Plaza theater, Fahrenheit took in more than $30,000 to top the $24,013 set by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000, Reuters reports. A spokesman for Lions Gate Films said the company debuted the movie in the two theaters to help build good word-of-mouth ahead its wider debut June 25 in 868 theaters.
And on to more record-breakers...
Bill Clinton's My Life sold more than 400,000 copies in the United States on in its first day of release, the most ever for a nonfiction book and double the believed previous record holder, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's Living History, The Associated Press reports. Clinton's publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, announced an additional printing of 725,000 copies, bringing the total to 2.25 million. Clinton's book has also topped the Amazon.com best-seller list in the United States, England, France and Japan, AP reports. Still, the record holder for the most books sold on one day belongs to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth in the Harry Potter installments, which sold an estimated 5 million copies on its opening day last year.
Crystal hits Great White Way
Billy Crystal is bringing his autobiographical one-man show, 700 Sundays, to Broadway in November, AP reports. The play marks the comedian first extended return to live performing in 16 years, in which Crystal portrays numerous characters drawn from his childhood, his teen years and adulthood. The title relates to Crystal's father, Jack, a jazz concert producer who died when the comic was just 15. "It's not a concert, but there are elements of that. It's deeply personal and liberating at the same time," Crystal explained to AP. "I've never been as excited about anything since I starting working in this play. It's been such a great energy at this point in my life, to be able to bring the show to New York."
Walters thinks today's journalists should follow upBarbara Walters criticized the current state of political reporting, Reuters reports. When asked whether journalists go too lightly on politicians, Walters, who steps down as ABC's 20/20 co-anchor in September, said, "No, I think journalists are tougher on politicians," she said. "One thing they don't do enough is the follow-up question." The veteran newswoman known for her in-depth interviews with celebrities, said she's looking forward to doing specials and reporting on people that she finds interesting once she leaves 20/20. "Even with the hideousness of the other parts of the world, we still seem to be in the throes of (celebrity culture)," she said. "People would still like to see Paris Hilton rather than Paris, France."
Celebs, musicians line up to raise money for John Kerry
Barbra Streisand, Billy Crystal, Neil Diamond, Dave Matthews, Whoopi Goldberg and others are lending their support in raising money for Democratic candidate John Kerry, Reuters reports, by putting on two gala concerts on both U.S. coasts. A Los Angeles concert on Thursday, and a concert in New York on July 8 are expecting to raise about $10 million. Ticket prices range from $250 to $25,000 a seat. The two shows are the biggest political outings by the Democratic entertainment set since early 2003 when actors and musicians joined forces in opposition to the imminent U.S.-led war on Iraq, Reuters reports.
Playgirl magazine searches for sexiest TV newscaster
Anderson Cooper we could understand, but Andy Rooney? The 85-year-old 60 Minutes commentator is among the candidates on Playgirl magazine's online ballot for sexiest TV newscaster. "We're looking for all the elements that make the perfect guy--intelligence, personality and good looks," Playgirl's editor in chief Michelle Zipp told the AP Wednesday. "We know that 'handsome' is really in the eye of the beholder. We're anxious to see what the outcome will be." Among the 18 men on the ballot are CNN's Bill Hemmer, MSNBC's Lester Holt, Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith, ABC's Peter Jennings, CBS's Dan Rather and NBC's Tom Brokaw. The winner will be announced in September and profiled--fully clothed--in Playgirl's October issue. The magazine will make a contribution to a charity of the winner's choice.
Tommy Lee denies being forced out of Bellagio gig
So what exactly happened at the Bellagio's Light nightclub in Las Vegas on Sunday night? It depends on whom you choose to believe. Former Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, who was at the club for a disc jockey gig, claims he walked off 30 minutes into the Father's Day party because the management was asking him to play top 40 hip-hop songs. But the club's director of marketing, Sean Christie, is spinning a different tune. "He was playing lousy music," Christie told the Las Vegas Sun in Tuesday's edition. "We told him to wrap up his set and make a graceful exit. When he refused, we said we would just pull the plug on him, which is what we ended up doing." Christie added the club was bothered that Lee kept ordering $800 bottles of Cristal champagne and didn't pay for them, something Lee's publicist denied. Christie said he'd welcome Lee back if the 41-year-old drummer cleaned up his act, but added, "dealing with him was probably one of the worst experiences I've ever had in this business."
Times they are a-changin' for Bob Dylan
Musical icon Bob Dylan was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Music by the University of St Andrews in Scotland Wednesday. Dylan, whose hits include Like a Rolling Stone and Mr. Tambourine Man, has only accepted one other honorary degree, from Princeton University in 1970. Dressed in a black academic gown, the 63-year-old rock legend arrived 50 minutes into the 90-minute ceremony and did not address the audience of 180 graduating students and their relatives. According to the AP, Dylan sat motionless, sometimes yawning, and showed no reaction as a university choir performed a version of his early classic, Blowin' in the Wind-- but his presence brought a strong dose of star power to Britain's third-oldest university.
Korn singer sued over serial killer museum
A collector of criminal artifacts filed a $4 million lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court on against Korn frontman Jonathan Davis after the singer announced plans for a museum of American serial killers. According to court papers obtained by Reuters Wednesday, Arthur Rosenblatt claims Davis, a former mortuary science student, approached him in June 2001 about his collection of "Americana," which included a Volkswagen once owned by serial killer Ted Bundy. Rosenblatt said when he told Davis of his plan to open a museum of criminal artifacts, the singer offered him $250,000 to fund the museum, which Rosenblatt suggested be named the "Museum of Justice & Odditorium." Rosenblatt alleges Davis and other partners never provided any money and that his life was threatened on various occasions.
Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.
Top Story: Another Osbourne Enters Rehab
Following in brother Jack's footsteps, it's Kelly Osbourne's turn to go into rehab. The 19-year-old daughter of rocker Ozzy Osbourne and wife Sharon entered a California drug rehabilitation clinic Friday to deal with an addiction to painkillers, Reuters reports. Promoting the upcoming third season of MTV's The Osbournes, Sharon Osbourne told CNN's Larry King Live that the couple confronted their daughter early on Friday after the family was contacted by an English tabloid seeking comment on a picture in which Kelly appeared to be buying drugs. "She admitted it after a lot of twisting," she told CNN. "Literally, a couple of hours ago, she was admitted to rehab." Ozzy, an admitted drug addict and alcoholic who has spent time in rehabilitation clinics himself, said he had asked Kelly repeatedly if she used drugs, but she denied it. "I can't believe we were buying into it," he said. "The amount of pills I found in her bag was astounding."
Brown, Houston Get on Reality Wagon
Bobby Brown and wife Whitney Houston are thinking of joining reality--television, that is. USAToday.com reports Brown, and his Atlanta-based production company B2 Entertainment, are shooting a new reality TV series chronicling the Houston/Brown family life, in hopes of selling it to a network. "It's Bobby's project, and he's her husband," Houston spokeswoman Nancy Seltzer told USAToday.com. "Of course she would do it with him." It isn't clear, however, if the show will focus on the troubled couple's recent past, including Houston Mar. 15 drug rehab stint or Brown's court appearance May 5 on battery charges stemming from an altercation with Houston last December as well as his probation violations.
Writers Begin Negotiations
Negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers are set to begin Monday, City News reports. The WGA, whose current three-year contract is due to expire May 2, is expected to demand higher residual payments for its members for DVD and video releases, contracts with "reality television" producers, and increased pension and health insurance contributions, among other things. "While there is no expectation of a strike at this time, the board of directors does want to be prepared in the event contract talks break down,'' the guild advised in a Web site update for members. The last time the WGA went on strike in 1988.
Kids Choose OutKast, Nemo
Disney's smash animated hit Finding Nemo and the hip-hop duo OutKast were the big winners at Nickelodeon's 17th Annual Kids' Choice Awards Saturday, Reuters reports. The show--where 17 million kids voted both online and by telephone for their favorites--was hosted by the upcoming Shrek 2 co-stars Cameron Diaz and Mike Myers, as kids watched voluminous amounts of slime poured onto unsuspecting celebrity presenters. Other winners included Jim Carrey for favorite movie actor and Amanda Bynes as favorite movie actress, while Malcolm in the Middle's Frankie Muniz and Disney Channel's Raven-Symone took favorite TV actor and actress, respectively.
Actress Cannon Suffers Smoke Inhalation
Actress Dyan Cannon suffered smoke inhalation when a fire broke out in her Los Angeles condominium, The Associated Press reports. Los Angeles County fire officials received a call Sunday morning of smoke coming from the building and discovered a fire in Cannon's eighth floor condo. They put out the blaze in about 15 minutes, fire dispatcher Brendon Peart told AP. "According to Ms. Cannon, she was sleeping at the time, and it appears that a fire started, perhaps electrical, in her kitchen," said fire Capt. Steve Martin. "The smoke detector woke her and her dogs up and, luckily, she got out safe," he said. About 200 residents were evacuated, but most of the damage was confined to Cannon's condo, fire officials said.
Rooney Gets WWII Honor
Veteran actor Mickey Rooney, who received a Bronze Star during World War II, was bestowed a special award at the National D-Day Memorial in Virginia for his nearly two years of service in Europe, AP reports. At the same time, the 83-year-old Rooney was also honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Blue-Ridge-Southwest Virginia Vision Film Festival, which honors films made in the state or by Virginians.
Too Much TV May Cause Attention Problems
In a recent study, researchers found that preschoolers who watch too much television, especially before the age of 2, may have attention deficit problems later in life, AP reports. Yet, Jennifer Kotler, assistant director for research at Sesame Workshop, which produces educational children's television programs including Sesame Street, questioned whether the results in the April issue of Pediatrics would apply to educational programming. "We do not ignore this research," but more is needed on variables that could affect the impact of early exposure to television, including whether content or watching TV with a parent makes a difference, Kotler told AP.
Role Call: Miramax Snags Hostage
Miramax Films has acquired the North American rights to the thriller Hostage, starring Bruce Willis. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film, currently shooting in L.A., follows an LAPD hostage negotiator (Willis) who heads to the country after a bloody standoff to take a job as the police chief of a small town. But instead of finding peace, the cop becomes embroiled in negotiations to save his own kidnapped wife and daughter. It also stars Kevin Pollak, Ben Foster, Jonathan Tucker and Serena Scott Thomas.