Tarsem Singh does it again!
When the word “Re-imagination” is thrown about by Hollywood, this is what they’re talking about. Admittedly, Disney has created my understanding of the tale, but a quick check of Wikipedia confirms that the 1937 animated classic hews closely enough to the Grimm tale. This film does not. It takes certain core elements and then completely shuffles the deck. The dwarves are now bandits in the woods, Snow White is still a Princess, but now she’s also a Robin Hood figure. There’s a CGI Chimera-type creature I don’t recall ever having been in the story before, the mythical “Poisoned Apple” makes but a token appearance, and the credits roll with a Bollywood style dance number.
Welcome to the tale of “Snow White” as presented by Tarsem Singh. It’s mildly humorous on occasion, but the “Adventure” element – which they ARE trying to interject here – falls completely flat. That’s ok! There are excessively extravagant costumes throughout! (Honestly, this movie was wardrobed by some kind of fairytale fetishist.) The Queen presides over a Louis the XIV style court, while Snow White swashbuckles in the woods with the Prince. Meanwhile, the dwarves spring along on accordion legs and act more like the mini-merry-men of
Sherwood Snow White forest. Singh even renames them! Instead of Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Dopey we have Napoleon, Half Pint, Grub, Grimm, Wolf, Butcher and Chuckles.
I kid you not.
Julia Roberts snarks, sneers and snidely smiles her way through her self-absorbed Wicked Queen. She’s relatively abusive to Snow White, I recall thinking – well, that’s not going to endear audiences. And yet, the movie definitely plays her as kind of co-lead. It’s obvious she’s supposed to be one of the comedic charms of the film, they devote as much time to her as they do to Snow White. I just couldn’t get with it I guess… I wasn’t amused. Its humor for women with vanity issues I guess. As to Snow White and her Prince, Armie Hammer and Lily Collins are a mere three years apart in age. Yet he looks 30 and she looks 14. It was a little distracting. They both do fine in their roles, however, I absolve them from any blame here. Collins is pretty and believably sweet, Hammer is funny enough when called upon.
What little humor there was in the film came via the Dwarves. Between their interplay with each other, their training Snow White in combat, and the times when they rob people, they deliver some occasional mild humor.
I’m going to stress the occasional here. I went to this one at the 7:00 showing on opening night, and the theatre wasn’t full (not a good sign), but there was a strong representation of children there. Lots of families with little kids. As such, I expected a responsive audience… lots of laughing when this film tried to make the kids laugh… But there really was none. There was one scene where the dwarves infiltrate a party that the Queen is having, and a couple of them hide under women’s skirts, getting their faces close to women’s butts. THAT drew the laughs out of the kids. Pretty much not much else though…
It made me wonder who the target audience for this movie is supposed to be? It’s way too kiddified to be for adults, yet it’s way too slow and not frequently funny enough for little kids. It’s nowhere near risqué enough for today’s tweens, which leaves us with an age range of about 8-10. And I’m 50/50 as to whether or not to say we should eliminate 8-10 yr old boys from that pool as well.
I’m not going to totally thrash it with my grade… I have a feeling a lot of my discomfort was that I’m the total antithesis of this movie’s target audience. Younger children and those with more feminine sensibilities may approve far more than I did.