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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: When does casting itself become part of a film’s humor?

Mirror Mirror Lily Collins Armie Hammer

Mirror Mirror has a lot of fun playing with fantasy tropes, and there’s an aspect of the film that serves as yet another sly little commentary on the genre, particularly as it sometimes works out on screen, and it has to do with who was cast in one role. Explaining it contains several spoilers for the film, so I’ve hidden it below. Skip over it if you don’t want the joke ruined. To read it, just highlight the text below:
Throughout the film, we know that Snow White is lamenting her dead father, the kindly King. We also know that her evil stepmother the Queen uses the threat of attacks of a great monster — one that’s possibly completely invented by her — to keep the townspeople in line and paying taxes. At the end of the film, we learn that not only is the monster real, it’s Snow’s father, who has been under a terrible spell of the Queen’s for years. Snow saves him and he is transformed back into human form… the form of Sean Bean. I found this hilarious because, as we all know, Sean Bean always dies in these sorts of movies. The fact that he lives here and gets to have a happy ending is a delightful joke, as far as I’m concerned.

What examples can you think of in which the choice of actor in a particular role adds to a movie’s joke? When does casting itself become part of a film’s humor?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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