A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mirror Mirror is a kid-friendly take on the Snow White fairy tale. Expect a few (bloodless) sword fights and some suggestive jokes that may go over kids' head (including references to a "May-December" romance and a quick reference to being "taken advantage of"). There's also a chaste kiss, a few longing looks, and a couple of dog-like licks on the queen's face while the prince is under a spell. In addition to the sword fights, the Mirror casts some malicious spells, and there are two killer, giant marionettes that try to destroy Snow White and the dwarfs. Unlike Disney's Snow White, Lily Collins' princess ends up learning how to stand up for herself and fights the queen's (Julia Roberts) evil beast alongside the prince.
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What's the story?
Snow White (Lily Collins) has spent the years since her father the king's disappearance imprisoned in the castle, while her greedy stepmother the queen (Julia Roberts) ruthlessly rules over the kingdom. The day of her 18th birthday, Snow escapes to the village and witnesses its poverty. On the way, she encounters two half-dressed men tied upside down to a tree. She frees the men -- who turn out to be Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) and his valet -- and is instantly attracted to the tall and handsome royal hero. The two reunite at a castle ball, but the queen has set her sights on marrying the prince to have access to even more wealth, so she commands her aide (Nathan Lane) to kill Snow White. As she runs through the woods, Snow stumbles into a tiny abode, which is the home of the seven dwarfs (though unlike the Disney dwarfs, these seven guys are marauding thieves who teach Snow their warrior ways). With the queen still determined to marry the prince, Snow White is in grave danger when it's revealed she wasn't murdered after all.
Is it any good?
Roberts obviously had a ball playing the Evil Queen; the Academy Award winner is funny and charming, even as she's hateful and uncaring. Dressed in sumptuous, over-the-top gowns and spewing incessantly cruel comments, she's the kind of deliciously evil villain audiences love to hate. Her vanity and self-aggrandizing comments provide some of the movie's biggest laughs -- especially as she attempts to woo the much younger Prince Alcott. Snow White, on the other hand -- or, more specifically, ingenue Collins -- is quite the opposite. Instead of being adorably innocent like Amy Adams or Anne Hathaway, Collins is beautiful but boring.
Hammer, who was excellent in The Social Network, was born to play handsome princes. He's all broad shoulders, twinkly eyes, and gleaming teeth, but even he can't elicit much chemistry with Collins. To say their romance is underwhelming is an understatement. The only redeeming scene is when the two have a brief sword fight with some zippy dialogue. Otherwise, it's really the queen and the prince who have better rapport. And as for the dwarfs, they're probably the coolest part of the movie, because they're nothing like you'd expect. They're rogueish stick-up artists who've been forced out of the village to live on their own in the woods. They teach Snow White how to be more assertive and confident, and she encourages them to stop their thievery. This Snow White is dazzling to watch from an art direction and costume perspective (with the bonus Roberts' villainy), but the princess' personality is as flat as her skin color is fair.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this take on Snow White compares to other versions of the beloved fairy tale. In what ways is this Snow White more assertive than other representations of her? How are the dwarfs a bigger part of the story?
What does Mirror Mirror have to say about vanity? What are the literal and figurative costs of the queen's vanity? Should it matter if you're the most beautiful person around?
Why are princess tales so popular? Does this spin on the princess story have a more progressive message for girls than previous versions?
- In theaters: March 30, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: June 26, 2012
- Cast: Armie Hammer, Julia Roberts, Lily Collins
- Director: Tarsem Singh
- Studio: Relativity Media
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Great Girl Role Models
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some fantasy action and mild rude rumor
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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