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.
Harrison Ford (What Lies Beneath) has signed on to play Fred Cuny, an American aid worker who disappeared in Chechnya in 1995, The Associated Press reports. The as-yet-untitled film is based on David Fanning's 1997 documentary The Lost American and will be penned by Gladiator scribe William Nicholson. Filming is scheduled to begin next year, though it'll likely not be shot on location--then the film would end up being about an American Hollywood star who disappeared in Chechnya.
Barbie's been naughty, and parent Mattel Corp. is none too happy about it. An Argentinean movie, Barbie Gets Sad Too, shows the well-endowed doll having lesbian sex with her Latina maid. Mattel was outraged by Barbie's "performance" and has asked for and received a court order to ban the movie, which was set to debut at Mexico City's Urban-Fest film festival, PageSix.com reports. The movie is a "work of art," according to the festival's director, who allegedly managed to recite that line while keeping a straight face. We're still laughing.
Sony Pictures Entertainment has agreed to pay the state of Connecticut $325,000 for promoting films using phony reviews credited to a Connecticut newspaper. A Sony spokesman reportedly promised that Sony would "never, ever do it again, cross our hearts, hope to die," though eyewitnesses did see him cross his fingers while making that statement.
Despite having aired the openly-gay-themed episode of Ellen when Ellen DeGeneres' character came out of the closet, an ABC affiliate in Lynchburg, Va., refused to broadcast the latest episode of Once and Again because it showed two teenage girls kissing. A spokesman for GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) called it "simple homophobia." We're not quite sure why WSET affiliate management pulled the episode; nobody watches ABC, anyway.
Jerry Seinfeld, titular star of TV's legendary Seinfeld, is making a comeback of sorts to the small screen. Seinfeld has signed a new three-year deal with American Express to make more commercials for the financial institution. It's no wonder why: Seinfeld's previous commercials pulled better ratings than the shows of former colleagues Michael Richards and Jason Alexander combined and ran for longer periods--but that's not saying much.
Hollywood stars (or at least some B listers) appeared at the Michael Awards, the self-proclaimed Fashion Oscars, Monday night. The charitable event, named after Michael Landon, raises money for the National Children's Leukemia Foundation and drew Sigourney Weaver, Cheryl Tiegs, Hallie Eisenberg and Roberta Flack. (Apparently Cheryl Ladd and Debbie Harry were no-shows.)
CSI is looking to break ER's seven-year stranglehold as TV's top-rated drama. For the second week in a row, CSI drew more viewers than ER and leads in average viewers per episode for the season. But in the wacky world of the Nielsen ratings, ER actually has the better rating. Recent rumors purport that the Nielsens were actually started by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris--counting and numbers are clearly her strong suit.
More big names have signed on to new TV shows. John Larroquette (Night Court), Patrick Dempsey and Balthazar Getty signed on to an untitled ABC pilot; Randy Quaid will headline Fox's The Grubbs; NBC's Miss Miami will feature Jonathan Silverman (The Single Guy); and Judge Reinhold is forging a Brave New World on the WB. In related news, ABC has allegedly canceled its fall slate now, avoiding the Christmas rush.
The scheduled Monday night "Face to Face" concert in St. Petersburg, Fla., was canceled when one of the "faces," Billy Joel, called in sick. (Elton John is the other "face" on the billing.) Joel's tour manager said the piano man is afflicted by an "acute upper respiratory infection and laryngitis." The manager said Joel did hand in a note asking that he be excused from the appearance, signed "Joel's mother."