Hollywood seems to prefer revisiting fairy tales and putting new twists on them to coming up with genuinely novel fantasy stories. And one of the ones they keep going back to time and again is the story of Snow White. 2012 had two competing films that both told different tales of the errant princess and her dwarven cohorts. Snow White and the Huntsman was the serious take on the story, directed by Rupert Sanders, and it was mediocre.
Mirror Mirror is the more comedic take on the tale, directed by Tarsem Singh, and it is also mediocre.
Strangely, the two are mediocre in similar ways, though they are tonally opposites. In both cases, the overall narrative — which deviates from the classic tale significantly in both — is fairly solid. And in both cases, where they fall short is the attempt at coaxing some sort of emotional reaction out of the audience. Where Huntsman failed to impress dramatically, Mirror Mirror fails to be all that funny. It’s not that there aren’t any laughs to be had, mind you; Nathan Lane gets a few as the Queen’s assistant, the dwarfs are reasonably amusing, and there are a few other chuckles here and there. It’s just that there’s nothing that really gets a strong laugh, and there’s a lot that falls flat, such as the “puppy love” spell cast on the prince. Having Armie Hammer act like a dog briefly isn’t worthy of a laugh, it’s just worthy of an eye-roll, and it’s typical of the humor in the film.
Part of what’s hurting it is the staidness of the main actors. Julia Roberts is cool and calculating as the Queen, and there’s not much in the role to provide amusement. Similarly Lily Collins is prim and proper as Snow White (even while taking up banditry). Armie Hammer is stiff as a board for most of his performance as the Prince. The side characters are the only ones whose actors seem to put any personality into them, and the script doesn’t devote any attention to them. At the same time, the script doesn’t seem to pay any mind towards the idea of giving its leads any jokes.
It’s just an empty film on the whole. I didn’t hate it while I was watching it, but I watched it with about the same level of interest as a very middle-of-the-road sitcom. And it’ll probably stick in my memory about as long.