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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Mirror Mirror

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer star in a scene from the movie "Mirror Mirror."
"Who's the fairest one of all?" The answer may surprise you in "Mirror Mirror" (Relativity), a fresh live-action take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

This go-round, the handsome prince is the center of attention, as the wicked queen and her lovely stepdaughter stage a battle royal for his hand, and the fate of a kingdom hangs in the balance.

Directed with high camp by Tarsem Singh ("Immortals"), "Mirror Mirror" piles on the one-liners and innuendos, along with life lessons that range from the need to help the poor and fight discrimination to the importance of promoting feminism. The end result is a bit leaden and somewhat charmless for a children's fairy tale. But remarkable costumes and grand set pieces go a long way to compensate.

Playing against type, Julia Roberts is the evil Queen, chewing up the scenery in glamorous ball gowns, and revealing her character to be insecure and afraid of growing old. The magic mirror offers a creepy-looking self-image that dispenses bad advice.

With her stepdaughter, Snow White (Lily Collins), locked away in the tower, the Queen sets out to find a rich husband, whose fortune will save her bankrupt realm. The populace is poor and starving as a result of the crippling taxes exacted to support the monarch's lavish lifestyle. Her luxuries of choice include some gross-out spa treatments -- who knew pigeon droppings made the best ingredient for a facial?

Enter on horseback the fabulously wealthy Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer), who catches the eye of both the Queen and Snow White. The Queen eliminates the competition by banishing Snow White and ordering her killed. But the hapless royal butler, Brighton (Nathan Lane), weakens, and Snow White escapes into the forest. There she stumbles upon the Seven Dwarfs.

Viewer, beware: These are not the endearing dwarfs of Disney lore. They are a wisecracking band of hoodlums with names like Napoleon (Jordan Prentice), Wolf (Sebastian Saraceno), and Butcher (Martin Klebba). They steal for a living, but Snow White persuades them to spare the poor and take from the Queen instead. They, in turn, teach her the ins and outs of street fighting.

Cross Robin Hood with Joan of Arc and you get the picture, as Snow White leads a crusade of diminutive warriors to overthrow the Queen, snag her Prince Charming, and live happily ... well, you know.

"Mirror Mirror" takes none of this seriously, and inside jokes abound. At one point, when it looks like the Queen may triumph, Prince Alcott interjects, "Don't change the ending! It's been focus-grouped, and it works."

It does, in its own unique fashion.

The film contains mild action violence, some rude humor, and one semi-profane utterance. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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