I admit I was not the most enthusiastic of fairy-tale-enthusiasts when I saw the trailer for Mirror Mirror, with its heavy dose of Julia Roberts (of whom I am not a big fan) and seemingly endless slapstick.
But my interest piqued when Once Upon a Blog: Fairy Tale News posted about a very different review that the film had gotten: one comparing the plot to the real life assassination of Indira Gandhi. Suddenly that outrageous swan dress didn't seem so off-putting, and Julia Robert's half-assed attempted accent was something I was just going to have to bear with.
So I coaxed (paid for) one of my friends to accompany me to the little local theater and we sat through the previews talking about how horribly wrong fairy tale adaptations could go. (I'm looking at you, Red Riding Hood.)
And honestly... I ended up really enjoying this film. If nothing else, it's worth going to see in the theater for the lush costumes and stunning set work.
Once I found out about the Indian ties (maybe the director's name should have been my first clue...) it was impossible not to see all the Bollywood Influence. (And I like Bollywood movies; if you're not a fan then I'm not sure how you'd feel about the movie, generally, but it's still interesting from a scholarly/cultural perspective -- always nice to see fairy tales that aren't entirely Western-cultural.)
I think the best way to describe this movie is... kind of cartoony. It's tongue-in-cheek through and through, with the prince even commenting on focus groups. It's hard to say it takes itself seriously, yet it drew me in enough to care about the characters (except the queen, and I'm not supposed to care about her anyway, right?), and I was impressed with the time spent to develop some of the secondary characters, like the dwarves and Snow's mentor Margaret. A lot of fairy tale retellings, especially in film, skim over secondary characters to the point where they are interchangeable.
For me, the biggest downfall of the movie was Julie Roberts, which is no surprise. But even my friend said the accent was pretty atrocious: everyone else seemed perfectly happy to just speak in their native accent but Roberts waffled back and forth between a vaguely British slur to her normal American vocalizations. And honestly I do not feel like the woman understands comedic timing or any of the other fine-tunings that come with getting a laugh out of an audience. If you are a fan of hers this might not be a problem for you so I'll leave it at that.
If you prefer darker retellings, this one won't hold as much appeal -- though I think that Indian Assassination angle is worth looking into (which I honestly haven't done, but hey I am a light scholar at best). Here is one other blog post, from pinayredeemed.blogspot.com, drawing the parallels between the political situation and the movie.
So should you see this? If you are a fan of the Snow White story, yes. This has enough of its own twists to be worthy of a viewing; Tarsem Singh does draw in the modern sensibilities of women rescuing themselves and in the end it's easy to cheer for this Snow White. Should you see this in the theater? I would encourage it -- like I said, the costumes are fabulous and the scenery is just yummy.