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Reel Critics: 'Mirror, Mirror' a shiny new adaptation

By John Depko and Susanne Perez

9:36 PM PDT, April 5, 2012

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The Brothers Grimm story "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" has a long history of being performed in plays and movies.

We've all heard the catch phrase: "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?"

The line from the classic fairy tale is uttered by the Evil Queen and stepmother who is jealous of the younger Snow White's beauty.

The new film "Mirror, Mirror"is the latest production of the famous yarn. It features a goofy charm with some witty political and cultural satire thrown in for good measure. Julia Roberts plays the nasty Queen with sarcastic relish. Nathan Lane is her fawning henchman who reluctantly implements her orders.

Beautiful Lily Collins is Princess Show White, whose rightful place on the throne has been usurped by the evil Queen. Armie Hammer plays the handsome prince hoping to rescue the princess. But the legendary seven dwarfs often steal the show with their swashbuckling exploits and good humor.

First-rate special effects and production values give a rich look to the enchanting scenes. There are plenty of familiar elements at work here. It may not be great cinema, but there's enough originality and snappy dialogue to make it an amusing diversion for many viewers.

*

'Bike' gets the heart racing

In this excellent little story from Belgium,"The Kid with a Bike"is Cyril, an 11-year-old foster child trying to find his father.

With unwavering tenacity and manic energy, he refuses to believe his papa could have actually abandoned him and sold his bike; he must see it for himself. And even then, he refuses to accept the truth.

Cyril is reunited with his beloved bike through a random kindness by a stranger, Samantha (Cecile de France). Cyril boldly asks if he can stay at her place on weekends, and she surprisingly agrees.

Thomas Doret gives an intensely convincing performance as this willful boy and is present in virtually every scene. You worry for him, are annoyed by him, and your heart breaks for him in his search for love and acceptance.

While Cyril's every thought and emotion is plainly visible, it is Samantha who is a mystery. We are never told why she went to the trouble of finding the boy's bike, why she took him in as a foster parent, or why she chose to keep Cyril in her life even over her boyfriend.

It's yet another facet in this quietly compelling film that makes it so rewarding.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.