Written by: Hannah Tran | September 17th, 2020
Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs (Sung-ho Hong/Moo-Hyun Jang/Young Sik Uhm, 2019) 1 out of 4 stars.
After Snow White puts on a pair of enchanted red shoes and turns into a conventionally attractive version of herself, she must work with a group of cursed princes-turned-dwarfs to reverse their curse and defeat her evil-witch stepmother. This is the story of Locus Corporation’s Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs, a parody film that often feels less like parody and more like a bloated and charmless version of the stories it draws reference from. And while it will likely win the hearts of a younger crowd, its strange messaging, emotionless performances and halfhearted narrative choices are unlikely to earn the affection of many others.
While it may not be nearly as offensive as its initial marketing campaign suggested, Red Shoes’ ultimate message about inner beauty and self-worth still ends up getting bogged down by the film’s insistence on establishing how much more preferable the thin version of its central heroine is. While it is true that her “Red Shoes” self would be more likely to be respected in both her and our society, the movie proves that its premise almost entirely hinges on the supporting male perspective as soon as you realize that her change in appearance only matters so far as it allows her romantic interest to grow past his initial shallowness.
And the shallow characters make for shallow voice performances. While most of the cast turns out to be merely forgettable, lead actress Chloë Grace Moretz (Greta) turns out to be memorable only due to her unfitting lifelessness. On the other hand, Jim Rash (The Way, Way Back), as the movie’s perfectly average central villain, Prince Average, is one of the few who take a more appropriately comedic and energetic approach, his small number of scenes elevating the feel of the film and the performances of those opposite him.
Furthermore, the plot moves from point to point in the same way you might expect an artificial intelligence machine to, all of it feeling a little confused but generally predictable. It rarely has strong motivation for its story choices, and some of the central moments of character transformation feel more like they’re giving up rather than having genuine changes of heart. Although the visual designs are charming and the animation is fairly impressive for a newer studio, Red Shoes’ simple tale of unselfish love and inner beauty is one that’s most unforgivable problems lie beyond skin deep.