SYNOPSIS: A re-telling of the classic fairytale Snow White finds Julia Roberts as the evil queen who steals control of a kingdom, and Lily Collins as the exiled princess who enlists the help of seven resourceful dwarves to win back her birthright.

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Violence/Gore: A few sword fights, though no one is seriously injured. Two giant marionettes, controlled by a witch, try to kill Snow White and destroy the dwarves’ home. A mythical beast nearly kills Snow White and the prince.

Profanity: Insults like “idiot” and “stupid”; a few derogatory terms for “short” aimed at the dwarves.  

Sex/Nudity: The queen admires the prince’s physique, including one scene where his shirt is stripped from him. A dwarf flirts with Snow White. The prince falls under a spell where he acts like a puppy, pounces on the queen and licks her face. During a sword fight, the prince spanks Snow White with his sword. The two share a kiss.

Drugs/Alcohol: Grownups drink at receptions and parties. A dwarf acts drunk.  

Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 8 and older who like funny fairytale-themed movies or are familiar with Lily Collins.

Will Parents Like It? It’s fun and lively and, for the most part, good family fare.  

REVIEW: I really wasn’t expecting much from Mirror Mirror. The trailer looked kind of dumb, and I wasn’t totally onboard with Julia Roberts as the queen. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the movie fun, lively and full of (mostly) interesting characters.

With her gaudy, over-the-top costumes and incessantly cruel comments, Roberts is a deliciously evil queen who obviously had a blast with the part. She manages to be both funny and charming (and we get to hear that big Julia Roberts laugh), while at the same time being hateful, ruthless, and the quintessential character you love to hate. Roberts also plays a more demure witch that the queen encounters when she goes “through” the mirror.

As the story opens, we learn that Snow White (Lily Collins) has spent the years since her father the king's disappearance imprisoned in the castle, while her stepmother the queen rules over the kingdom with little care for the poor citizens. Even as they’re starving, the queen imposes yet more taxes to maintain her lavish lifestyle.

When Snow White turns 18, she escapes to the village and is saddened by the poverty she sees in the kingdom. In the woods, she encounters two half-dressed guys tied upside down to a tree -- the result of some infamous “giant” bandits. Snow White frees the men, who turn out to be Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer, who with his good looks and twinkly eyes makes a great prince) and his valet (Robert Emms).

Sparks fly between Snow White and the prince, and they’re later reunited at a castle ball. The queen is looking to marry the prince and become even wealthier, so she instructs her aide Brighton (Nathan Lane) to kill Snow White. Instead, he frees Snow, who runs through the woods and stumbles upon the seven dwarves, a rag-tag group of thieves who teach her how to fight and be more confident.

Mirror Mirror is a panoply of different things. It’s a love story, a dysfunctional family story, a coming of age story, and of course, a fairytale. And at one point, it’s a bit of a horror movie when the queen’s beauty treatments involve gross insects and ugly grubs.

In fact, there’s a running joke about the queen’s wrinkles, which I’m guessing plays off the fact that Julia Roberts is getting older and, yes, has a few wrinkles. She actually looks older than her supposed 44 years, and is perhaps bucking the plastic surgery trend in Hollywood. She also has three kids, which, as every mom knows, are put here on earth to give their parents wrinkles and gray hair.

Lily Collins, who’s the daughter of singer Phil Collins, makes a lovely Snow White (though I admit I kept getting distracted by her bushy eyebrows, which I realize is completely superficial of me), but frankly, her character is a little boring and the weakest link in this story. Collins said in a recent interview that she auditioned for the role of Snow White in Snow White and the Huntsman (in theaters June 1, 2012), but the part went to Twilight’s Kristen Stewart. A friend told me he wished the roles had been reversed – Stewart in this movie and Collins in Huntsman, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Stewart does paired up with Charlize Theron as the queen and Chris Hemsworth as the huntsman.  

Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham (a castle cook) and Sean Bean (the king) add credibility to Mirror Mirror, but my favorite characters are the dwarves. They’re funny, roguish bandits who’ve been forced out of the village to live in the woods, and they give Mirror Mirror a Monty Python feel to it, only rated PG and without the frat humor prevalent in Monty Python movies. I found myself wishing that Mirror Mirror focuses more on the dwarves and less on the other characters. Perhaps a spin-off is in order.

I’ll sum up Mirror Mirror by saying it’s a cute movie with a brisk pace that’s fun for both kids and grownups, but if you’re looking for a fairytale with a little more depth and drama, check out Snow White and the Huntsman in June.   

Reel Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Reels

MPAA Rating: PG for some fantasy action and mild rude humor

Released in Theaters: March 30, 2012

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

Runtime: 106 minutes

Directed by: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar

Cast: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Sean Bean, Mare Winningham 


One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.

Two Reels – Coulda been a contender

Three Reels – Something to talk about.

Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!

Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies and TV. Visit her at Reel Life With Jane; follow her on Twitter; become a friend on Facebook; email