Into the Woods (2014)
Fairy tales converge in this musical extravaganza. When a humble baker and his learn they’ve been cursed with childlessness by the Witch who lives next door they embark on a quest for the objects she requires in order to reverse the curse. They need a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and slipper pure as gold. They swindle, lie and even steal in order to procure the items from Cinderella, Little Red Riddinghood, Rapunzel and Jack. Every has their wish granted but what comes next is not at all what any of them expected. Disaster awaits them unless they come together and put their individual needs and wants aside. Starring Ann Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Tracey Ullman, Lilla Crawford, Simon Russel Beale, Johnny Depp, Billy Magnussen, Mackenzie Mauzy, Chris Pine, Richard Glover, Frances de la Tour.
Into the Woods isn’t a new brain child of the current fairy tale obsessed society. Composer Stephen Sondheim and writer James Lapine unleashed the musical onstage in 1986. It brought a darkness to the upbeat sunny world of fairy tales that surprised and stunned audiences. The movie version of Into Woods carries this darkness through and while I haven’t seen the Broadway show to make a true comparison it feels authentic to what I would imagine the stage show is. Ultimately if it weren’t for the classic Sondheim sounds and the outstanding cast performances I might have completely written it off and left it to the scary scary woods.
Always a fan of fairy tales I find the Into the Woods take a unique one. However, it feels like it needs explanation at the end and when something needs to be explained I think it failed in its goal. The morals of the stories get convoluted so at some point I sort of stopped caring and just sat back and enjoyed the amazing music and the stunning performances of the likes os Streep. No one can doubt the composing brilliance of Sondheim. The songs feel natural and classic, his specialty. To add to that the talent deliver on their characters. Streep is a hoot to watch as the Witch. She was caster perfectly in my opinion. Blunt and Kendrick shine as well. Honestly I can pin point a bad performance especially given the outrageous nature of the roles of Pine and Magnussen as the Princes. They do such a fantastic job of not taking themselves seriously given the ridiculous nature of their songs and actions that you can’t help but appreciate their ability to look stupid in a brilliant way.
Still all the greatness of the music and performances didn’t create a musical that I would say I want to watch over and over again. Nor would I want necessarily to share it with my children because I would have to explain way too much in the way of meaning and morals to make it worth the effort. I can see why so many love and appreciate Into the Woods but I don’t think it will make my regular rotation of musicals for viewing.
6/10 Stars – Talent definitely delivered but as a musical lover I have to say I was disappointed.
I went into this movie with no idea what to expect. The trailers never really gave much to the story/songs so my expectations were quite low. Within the first 10 minutes I wanted to get up and leave, and that is saying something for having low expectations already! The story is weird and super thin. An old lady puts a curse on a family preventing them from having babies because someone steals from her garden?!? That’s the story! These fairy tale characters proceed to run around the woods from skit to skit trying to obtain artifacts to lift the curse as they sing… a lot! I know this is a musical, and the production value is well done for a musical (unlike the new Annie), but the songs all sound the same. I’ve seen plenty of good musicals, and they have different songs with different sounds. Into The Woods seems to take the same central sound and run wild with it causing it to be old by the end.
Speaking of the end, I don’t know what the point of the last 30 minutes of this movie is about. It has absolutely nothing to do with the first part of the story where the Baker and his wife must collect the items. This movie should have ended right as they were saying “and they lived happily ever after,” but something happens to scratch that idea. No idea why! It makes this movie WAY TOO LONG and I really wanted to leave by this point as the movie over stays its welcome.
When it is all said and done, Into the Woods is a well producted musical with catchy songs that I just couldn’t stand! Women are going to love the jokes, satire and idiotic characters while the guys will roll their eyes. The unexpected stupidity of the characters irritated me and I couldn’t tell if the movie was making fun of itself or just being that naive. Some people are going to say that the acting is “award worthy” and I could agree that Meryl Streep does a nice job, but the rest of the cast… ha! Just because a cast can sing doesn’t mean they are worthy of awards. The consideration of Into the Woods for awards other than production just speaks to how thin 2014 is. When going to the movies this holiday season, ladies should see Into the Woods while guys see American Sniper! Everyone wins!
5/10 Stars – Might have high production quality with good songs, but the story is thin and way too long!