‘Mirror Mirror’ on the screen, who’s the goofiest fairy tale queen?

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Courtesy photo

The evil queen (Julia Roberts), left, stares down her kind and beautiful stepdaughter, Snow White (Lily Collins), in “Mirror Mirror.” The movie is a twist on the fairy tale favorite about the princess who meets seven dwarves while in exile from her kingdom.

Mirror Mirror

2.5 out of 4 stars

106 minutes

Starring: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer and Nathan Lane.

Now playing at West Theatre in Craig and Carmike Chief Plaza 4 in Steamboat Springs.

Classic stories never grow old.

Perhaps not every adaptation of every single fairy tale deserved to see the light of day, but “Mirror Mirror” is certainly among those that reflect pretty well on the film industry.

In a far-away kingdom, a princess named Snow White (Lily Collins) lives in the shadows of her overbearing stepmother, Queen Clementianna (Julia Roberts), who has ruled like a tyrant ever since the king’s disappearance.

Blissfully unaware of just how awful the queen really is, Snow’s first venture out of her castle in years exposes the hardships of the subjects, causing the realization that she has the power to end such suffering by claiming her birthright as the true ruler of the land.

Standing up to the queen is easier said than done, as the vain harpy tasks her footman (Nathan Lane) with doing away with the newly rebellious princess while she attempts to worm her way into the good graces of a visiting prince (Armie Hammer) from a wealthy kingdom.

Faced with death, Snow White is rescued and taken in by a group of seven forest-dwelling bandits with whom she teams up to save the realm once and for all.

The original name of the story may be named after Snow White, but this version may as well be called “The Stunning Queen and the Stupid Girl She Hated” the way one character tells it. Roberts gets plenty of attention playing against type as the villainess who’s not so much evil as she is the poster child for endless self-indulgence and arrogance, speaking to everyone like the ultimate diva, spending money like it’s going out of style and keeping a full supply of backhanded compliments in her holster for any occasion, as well as a store of potions and — as is tradition — a magic mirror that takes the guise of her kinder side, whose advice about being a good person she ignores, demanding supernatural favors instead.

It would have been intriguing to see Julia’s niece, Emma Roberts, playing the title role and the two of them squaring off against each other, but Collins is still capable as the demure princess who’s full of love and sweetness. It’s becoming less and less of a novelty for a fairy tale girl to be able to defend herself these days, but the actress wields a sword with the best of them, putting the chauvinistic Prince Alcott in his place, and sending him home crying in his underwear.

It helps when you have good instructors like her housemates, with a septet of dwarf actors the best thing about this rendition.

You’ll forget all about Grumpy, Dopey and Doc when you see lovesick drunk Half Pint (Mark Povinelli), gluttonous Grub (Joe Gnoffo) and mercurial Butcher (Martin Klebba), to name a few of Snow’s new shorties, whose careers as highwaymen come about after the queen dismisses all the “grotesques” of the kingdom.

The accordion-like stilts used by the dwarves to give them the appearance of giants — not worn in their abode, where a sign indicates the height cut-off — are just one of the elements of this story that’s too silly for words.

Of course, most of these have to do with the queen, ranging from her love for human chess games to gowns that could house a family of four to insane beauty treatments like smearing bird diarrhea on her face and plumping up her lips with multiple bee stings.

Let’s not leave out her enchantments, which leave Hammer with a dog-like obedience and butt-kissing Lane with a buggy new body.

The ornate, opulent design of the kingdom is impressive, as is the wardrobe of the people who live in it, but if this were only lovely to look at, it would be pretty dull.

Fortunately, director Tarsem Singh keeps the energy high throughout the story, full of humor and building up to a Bollywood-style finale, something we probably won’t see in this year’s much darker “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

“Mirror Mirror” doesn’t show us the gloomy, bloody characteristics of fairy tales when they were first penned by the brothers Grimm, although there is a Grimm involved in this version. Tarsem knows what kind of audience he’s going for, and those who prefer the cutesy, girly-girl take on the story will love it enough to sing “Heigh-Ho” and pay for a ticket seven times over.

Still, if you’re waiting for something a little less frilly, the poison apple may be the way you want to go.

Now playing at West Theatre in Craig and Carmike Chief Plaza 4 in Steamboat Springs.

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