The girls and I saw the trailer for Mirror Mirror during the Academy Awards last month and have been counting down the days until spring break rolled around—while I will happily go see a movie any day of the year (I am my mother's daughter) I especially like to take the girls to see a movie during spring break. We know people who are traveling to warm and exotic vacation destinations this week—Hilton Head! Honolulu! Orlando!—but I am of the mind that while warm and sunny is all fine and good, there is something to be said for two hours of smiling at a screen* in a darkened theater. Or so I'm training the girls to believe.
We loved, loved, loved this movie. It had so much to love—Julia Roberts! Snow White! Gorgeous costuming! A great sense of comedic timing! I'm not sure who comes up with these ideas over at Disney to completely redo the plot lines of classic fairy tales, but like Tangled, it totally worked. The story is simultaneously familiar and completely new; in one of Disney's fantastic nods to quirky, graphic story-within-a-story shorts, we get more detail about the loss of Snow White's father than the original Snow White provides. Queen Clementianna (Roberts) narrates the history, immediately becoming a wicked queen with depth vs. the cartooned caricature of evil within the first few scenes: she is mean! fickle! spiteful! arrogant! funny! You can't help but love to hate her and hate to love her—no one better than Julia Roberts (disclosure: my all-time favorite actress) to pull this off.
The movie contains a few other notable departures from the original Disney version: the dwarves are not nearly as clownish, though they are at first far less honorable as bandits rather than miners. Their names are different, too—Grimm, Half Pint, Napoleon, Grub, Chuck, Wolf, and Butcher. Snow White (Lily Collins—Phil Collins' daughter!) makes them dinner as a gesture of gratitude, but she is no housekeeper in this story—she learns practical skills from the dwarves in a plot turn that provides both action and a strong female character to cheer. The prince is funny but is never a fool (except for when he is under a spell) and his respect for Snow White at the story's end gives the movie its modern feel. That and the hilarious nod to Bollywood during the closing credits. Bridget already asked me to put that song on her iPod. Watch out, Mumbai. Have you seen Bridget dance?
And the costumes... oh, the costumes... they were perfect. Gorgeous. Fitting in every way.
As for the scary factor: I have the best way to measure this in the entire universe—the Scale of Gracie. You might remember that Gracie couldn't make it through Cinderella for years because Lucifer, the cat, sent her into hysterics. Gracie is seven now and can giggle over her previous fear of the black cartoon cat (which ended when she was about 5 3/4, ahem), but she is still an excellent measure of scary. She was a little freaked out by the forest scenes at the beginning (they were in fact a little creepy) and by the beast that makes an appearance at the end, but she only covered her eyes for about 30 seconds of the entire movie and didn't cry once. (Bridget, in comparison, watched the entire thing without blinking, I think.) I wouldn't take a child under four to see this movie, but then again, I think movies with three year olds are best enjoyed at home anyway : )
As for older kids: Maddie sat next to her friend C; they were cracking me up because they did find it necessary to cover their eyes and squirm at least twice during some very innocent kissing scenes. Hee. Almost ten-year-old girls. Maddie got all the jokes; it is awfully fun to see an almost ten-year-old giggle at all the right places and understand the subtleties of the less in-your-face humor. I've read a few reviews that throw some minor criticism for being a little fluffy on the humor, a little too light on the script and storyline. I'm here to say: Hollywood, make more movies like this, because families will pay to see them. A movie like this is all at once appropriate, interesting, and funny. What's the problem, again?
*you may find an explanation of the Willis Smiling Disorder here.