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.
SOMETHING UNMISTAKABLE HAPPENED on Sarah Palin's Alaska last night. Kate Gosselin questionably dragged her eight children to visit to the state that Palin notes as so extremely populated with firearms that walking down an Alaskan street and seeing someone with an AK-47 is as common as a New Yorker toting a BlackBerry. In other words, AN EXCELLENT VACATION SPOT FOR A SINGLE MOM! Ha. No, but yes.Yes! Gosselin has eight kids! Not so questionably then!
Anyway, Kate took her kids on a camping trip with Sarah and her family, and complained the whole time. She said she didn't understand why people would be willing to pretend to be homeless by eating moosemeat hotdogs and letting mosquitos bite them on their faces. She also voiced her frustration that her nineteen layers of clothes weren't keeping her warm and she completely checked out. This resulted in Sarah teaching the Gosselin kids how to make smores, and making hamburgers for them, and basically being a goddess of children while Kate moped and sulked and cried about how everything was ridiculous while the rustic Palin kids laughed at her complaining about the lack of utensils and Purell.
But the best part was when Kate decided she was going to leave and she went around asking her children if they wanted to stay or go back to Foxwoods, or whatever. Most of the kids said they were having fun, and Kate proceeded to tell them they were no longer Gosselins because she wanted to go. The truth is Kate made Sarah look like a really great mother, which I know she decidedly is not because she believes a crate that is meant to keep dogs from climbing the stairs they can't climb can also keep her daughter's boyfriend downstairs and out of her room. That's gotta mean that Gosselin is, like, Julie Taymor or something.