Mirror, mirror on the wall, what's the fairest feature film of them all?
"Mirror, Mirror," a comedy based on the story of Snow White, isn't even in the running. All it's going to do is leave you grumpy.
"Mirror, Mirror" offers a comedic -- and the term's very loosely applied here -- look at the battle between Snow White (Lily Collins) and the Evil Queen (Julia Roberts) to rule the kingdom. The pair also get into a tussle over the heart of the charming Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer). The only hope for Snow is that her seven new vertically challenged friends can help her become a match for the Queen.
The film is beautifully shot, not surprising as it comes from director Tarsem Singh. His past works include the hypnotically beautiful "The Cell" and the elegantly filmed "The Fall." His latest film has a great look but no depth.
The screenplay by Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller is uninspired and -- even worse -- devoid of any real humor.
The biggest jokes have Nathan Lane's character turned into a cockroach and Hammer's Prince acting like a dog in heat when a "puppy love" potion is used on him. It's embarrassing to see Hammer try to make the scene work when it has already rolled over and played dead.
The jokes in "Mirror, Mirror" are the kind of lame attempt that killed the 1987 TV series "The Charmings," another so-called comic look at Snow White. The only way this comedy would have been able to stand up is if the humor had gone to the absurdest level of a Mel Brooks movie.
"Mirror, Mirror" needed to be far more dopey, especially Roberts' performance. When a person plays against type, the absurdity of the work has to be outlandish enough to make sure everyone gets the point. Roberts never comes across as Evil, more of The Mildly Unlikable Queen.
The film also suffers from the worst timing since the film "Space Camp" was released after the Challenger explosion. "Mirror, Mirror" opens while a very compelling version of Snow White's life plays out in the TV series "Once Upon a Time" and a dark Arthurian version starring Kristen Stewart is ready to ride into theaters. It's like having two beautiful stepsisters and one ugly Cinderella.
Despite the impossible odds of the bad script, Collins manages to give a spirited performance. But it's not enough for the film to live happily ever after.
"Mirror, Mirror," rated PG for mild violence. Stars Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane. Directed by Tarsem Singh. Running time: 95 minutes. Running time: 95 minutes. Grade: D+ Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com
or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.