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.
Ever wonder what happens to Playboy bunnies past their prime? Does Hef kick them to the curb and send them packing? According to Anna Faris, that's exactly what happens. The comedienne pondered the fate of this elite breed of eye candy and came up with the character Shelley Darlington for her new movie House Bunny.
Shelley is a 27-year-old Playboy outcast trying to fend for herself in the real world. When she stumbles across a sorority of misfits she feels right at home in their mini-mansion. While she teaches her new gal pals all about fashion, beauty and boys they teach her a thing or two about what it means to be yourself. Hollywood.com met up with Faris and her sorority sisters; Rumer Willis, Katharine McPhee and Emma Stone for some girl talk about posing for Playboy, putting up with bloggers and more.
Character: Shelley Darlington
Major Malfunction: Kicked out of the Playboy Mansion for being too old.
On the age old question; What happens when Playboy bunnies grow up?:
“I was thinking about it three years ago, about what happens when it’s time for the next phase of life for some of these girls who have lived in the Playboy mansion and how do you sort of reenter the real world? And I pitched the character to [two female writers] and, together, they wrote a script and together we produced it. And the next thing you know we’re shooting at the Playboy mansion.”
On getting into the ‘Bunny’ state of mind:
“When we went and pitched it, I would be in character and, so I was starting to really have a clear vision of who Shelley was, having said that, it was really intimidating. I kept feeling, ‘I don’t belong in this crowd.’ All these girls are really hot and confident and I felt really self-conscious for sure…I thought maybe the studio world wouldn’t see me as that, so that was intimidating, but when I floated the idea past my mom, who is pretty conservative, she was like, ‘You’re doing what?’ And now, of course, she’s like ‘I’m so proud of you!’”
On making the transformation from comedic actress to smokin’ hot babe:
“Shelley, y’know, she’s got a lot of hair. She likes a lot of makeup. We had to do a lot of body make up and make up to make my cleavage look bigger...getting into the wardrobe usually took a good 20 minutes or so. Strapping in. It was like, yeah, it was a challenge. The shoes I loved. As I think everyone knows, I kept them all. I still will put them on at night and trot around. I don’t go anywhere. But, I loved wearing those.”
On posing for Playboy:
"Just keep your eye out for maybe the September issue [laughs]. I have to cryptic about these things, I’m instructed to be."
Major Malfunction: Keeps a back brace as a security blanket.
On embracing her nerdiness:
“I was a dork. I was a computer nerd. I grew up and, Emma [Stone] went through the same thing, we both had braces and glasses and this curly fro. And I wasn’t necessarily too active in getting in the social crowd, so I definitely understand the entirely not fitting in. But I think everyone has their own version of feeling a bit out of place and one of the great things I think that we have the ability to do is show that it’s alright. You can have that awkward phase. It’s not about whether you’re the popular girl or the nerdy one. It’s just about feeling confident and comfortable with kind of where you fit and who you are and accessing that and making that your own.”
On her “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” moment:
“I have a lot of respect for those girls in high school who have to wear them. Especially the ones who got magnets stuck to them or braces. But, it’s a different thing when you have to have another prop on you as well. And a lot of the time, I would always see Katherine lounging about…and I always seemed to be on a stool sitting perfectly straight, but I actually couldn’t get up one time. I felt like a turtle. I was lying on my back when we were outside on a blanket. And our director Fred came over and we were talking and I tried to get up and I couldn’t. And he asked me if I was kidding and I was like ‘No, I really can’t get up!’”
On breaking the Hollywood hottie mold:
“I think one of the things I’m most excited about [with this movie], especially just growing up in Hollywood and having two younger sisters there, is so much pressure I think from everywhere to look a certain way and dress a certain way. I definitely know I don’t entirely fit the convention and to be able to be a part of something that could hopefully allow young girls to go and watch this and feel confident about themselves and go, ‘Okay, well that girl isn’t entirely the ideal or what the perfect picture is supposed to be and she feels confident and beautiful than I can too.’”
On the bloggers who love to pick her apart:
“Everybody has an opinion and we live in America so you’re allowed to. The thing about it is, the media is an interesting outlet, because it allows people to see who they think you are. An idea of you, but it might not be who you really are. As long as you are comfortable with who you know you really and true to be and your friends and the people around you, you know that and who you really are - that’s all that really matters.”
Major Malfunction: Was lucky enough to get a guy and now she's pregnant!
On drawing from her dork-like tendencies:
“I’m not gonna say I was a dork in high school…I struggled with weight in high school. I had times where I didn’t really want to hang out with the cool kids. It was kind of like being a librarian and keeping to myself. So, I think, everybody has a moment in their life where they feel not so comfortable in their skin or connected to what we call the popular group or whatever…I was involved in a theater group, theater parts in high school, so that sort of kept me really busy and then swim team…I had friends and stuff, but I was friends with a lot of different people in high school. So, I guess that was my outlet.”
On sporting a prego belly and how it influenced her parenting plans:
“I had two different bellies; one that was prosthetic and one that was like a pregnant pad, which I showed very graphically how it connects at the bottom. It was very uncomfortable in the dead of summer, so I wore that one more often, than the actual prosthetic, because the prosthetic is really just specifically when there is a sheer t-shirt, where you can, y’know, see the belly button and all that kind of stuff. Before I actually got married I was like I wanted to have kids right away and all this stuff. And then I got married and totally changed and was like, ‘No.’ [laughs] And I think that has to do with wearing a pregnant pad for two months, so thank you House Bunny.”
On finding her inner-karaoke singer:
“My first instinct was to honestly not – like that would be random if she just suddenly sings well. That just would not make any sense, like ‘Oh, there’s Katharine McPhee singing a good song’…I did a good job I guess. I sounded bad.” o understand and it feels different now to watch it then it did at the editors assembly or when we showed it at Sundance. With some distance from it you can kind of let it go.”
Major Malfunction: Can't talk to boys and suffers from social awkwardness
On accepting her own computer geekiness:
“When I was young I never really thought to judge it, really. To, uh, feel like an outsider. I sort of just always did my thing and it made me happy…I made a lot of websites [laughs], but I thought it was fun…This really came in perfect time for me. Because I was 18 when we were shooting this and that period really for me, this has been the strangest period of trying to figure out who I am…to accept that what you like is what you like and who you are is who you are and everyday I try to remind myself of that.”
On working in a sorority house full of girls:
“It felt important that we all got along really well because this sorority can only really speak to each other. There are seven girls that are so completely socially inept that they can’t strike up a conversation with anyone. Of course what Anna brought to the role is somebody they could relate to from the outside. It is so true, it was so important that someone like Anna or just Anna play this role because her likeability, her heart shines through the whole thing and it really only makes sense in the situation. If it was anyone else playing it with less love than it just wouldn’t relate.”
On branching out to other genres:
I would love to die [laughs]. I definitely just kind of respond to material more than anything, more than genre particularly so I haven’t really sat down and made a plan like, ‘Next I’m going to do this kind of movie.’ So, I absolutely love, love comedy…I feel very lucky to be in a place where we get to laugh all day, that’s a good way to say it. Absolutely I’m interested in every genre. There are movies from every genre that I adore and I would love to be a part of something like that.
House Bunny opens in theaters Aug. 22, 2008
The good, bad and the ugly on TV:
They won't be there for you
For die-hard Friends fans, the recent revelation that the show will end following its 2001-02 season came as bad news.
For some, however, myself included, it's the right call to put the show out of its creative misery.
The indications were there last season: glitzy guest stars getting more camera time than regulars, fantastical storylines, and 16 people stranded in Australia dominating the Must See timeslot. Not to mention that each cast member was beginning to ask for such massive salaries that it made all six of them intensely unlikable.
A couple of the Friends really need not worry. Jennifer Aniston's officially a pop-culture icon, and David Schwimmer's performance in HBO's upcoming miniseries Band of Brothers is a wonderful piece of weasel acting. They'll be fine. They'll all be fine. Stone-cold wealthy.
Robert Iler: millionaire?
The Sopranos' Robert Iler reportedly bragged to police officers following his July 4 arrest for theft and marijuana possession, saying, "Don't you worry about me. I'm a millionaire."
That may be true, but isn't young Robert forgetting that he works on a show where main characters die all the time? He may have some cash, but can he hold onto it if the show's producers decide he's a liability?
Perhaps he should have a little discussion with actor Vincent Pastore (who played "Big Pussy" on the series, before getting whacked). One minute, he's a star. The next, he's sitting next to the Olsen twins as the "Secret Square."
Wise up, Robert.
Mister Rogers: retiring legend
In an age when little Pokemon creatures teach kids how to gamble, it's nice to see a children's program that utilizes TV as a brilliant learning tool.
That's what PBS' Mister Rogers Neighborhood did for 34 years, but as of Friday, Sept. 29, the show ends production as its star, 73-year-old Fred Rogers, retires. And he deserves a break.
But there'll be no more puppet shows that don't involve a Ninja Turtle in some way. No more visits by a mailman who doesn't hate your very guts.
Yep, we're now left with good old-fashioned capitalism for kids on the tube. More trading cards, more Gameboys. Get ready for Christmas.
From the "beating a dead horse department": CBS announced Wednesday that a handful of the cast members from both installments of Survivor will visit the Big Brother II house on Sept. 5. From the first Survivor, Gervase Peterson and Susan Hawk will drop by the house, and from Survivor: The Australian Outback, Alicia Callaway and Jeff Varner will pop in. The castaways will go head-to-head against the remaining houseguests in a competition of survival skills.
Has CBS lost its originality? Rehashing old castaways on new shows--castaways who didn't even win anything? Well, you can't really blame CBS. Maybe this move will finally push Big Brother II up in the ratings?
ABC: Nielsen king
Sensationalism. It's a beautiful thing--if you're a TV network.
ABC usually tops the weekly Nielsen rankings with Millionaire. We hardly flinch when we see it. But last week, it was the news magazine show PrimeTime Thursday that rose to No. 1, thanks to that little ferret from California, Gary Condit.
Yes, the interview he sat through with Connie Chung was drivel, but it scored big in the ratings. While Condit's situation is a story of grotesque proportions, it nonetheless drew the biggest audience in primetime. If only ABC could score a live confession with Robert Blake--then ABC execs could rest easy for weeks on end. Just make sure it airs during November sweeps.