Tarsem Singh‘s Mirror Mirror (Relativity, 4.4) is a visually appealing but low-energy comic farce that never leaves the ground. I didn’t laugh once. I didn’t guffaw. I didn’t titter. The pacing is too relaxed or something. It plays a bit like the medieval chapter in Woody Allen‘s Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Sex…and that wasn’t funny either. I didn’t hate it exactly, and I was charmed by Armie Hammer‘s performance as the hunky prince, but I was checking my watch every 15 minutes or so.
The best part, as I noted last night, is a Bollywood-style song-and-dance sequence during the closing credits.
The main story points in the classic Snow White tale are kept, but with lots of satirical tweaking. (The script is by Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller.) The basic strategy is to start with classical trappings and characters and then devolve or downshift into 21st Century cultural-colloquial. On a certain level Mirror Mirror plays as a metaphor about the arrogant 1% — represented by Julia Roberts‘Queen Clementianna — hogging all the money and wallowing in splendor, and causing the 99% to suffer and struggle.
The mean queen wants to stay beautiful forever but has serious cash-flow problems due to her squandering, and so she wants to marry the much younger Prince Andrew Alcott (Hammer) because his kingdom is flush. He’s initially smitten with the beautiful Snow White (Lily Collins, the daughter of Phil Collins) but the queen slips him a special puppy-love potion that makes him pant and wag his tail and slobber all over her. I’m forgetting why Snow White leaves the castle…either she was banished or wanted to commune with her subjects…but she eventually hooks up with the seven dwarves and…and…and…I’m losing interest in this. As I was last night in my seat.
Collins does pick up a sword a couple of times and engages in acrobatic derring-do near the end, which synchs up with the Snow White-as-warrior concept in the other film with Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron. And instead of Snow White succumbing to a poisoned apple and going into a coma and the prince bringing her back to life with a kiss…well, imagine a twist.
The bottom line is that Tarsem (a.k.a. Tarsem Singh or Tarsem Singh Dhandwar) doesn’t have a knack for comic farce, His specialty is making everything look like dessert and blending animation with live action and providing a sense of visual unity and panache, which he does here. But the energy never picks up and the “funny stuff” isn’t funny.
Last night Mirror Mirror‘s Rotten Tomatoes rating was at 80-something percent. Now it’s at 56%. It’s melting…it’s melting!