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Into the Woods

Coming Soon

Director Rob Marshall’s (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Memoirs of a Geisha) musical venture into the musical world of the Grimm Fairytales hits a little left of center. It hints of pedophilia (Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood) and straight-up infidelity (Baker’s Wife and Cindarella’s Prince), which is just a little too weird for my taste. Maybe I was expecting something a little more wholesome, since it is Disney, but my bad. The music was solid and the characters very likeable but it just went a little darker than I would have liked.

For the first three quarters of the movie the narrative is straightforward. An evil witch played expertly by Meryl Streep curses the Baker (British television actor James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) to be childless unless they can acquire some items for her. This brings the Baker and his wife “into the woods” where they encounter the likes of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (stage actress Lilla Crawford), Rapunzel (newcomer Mackenzie Mauzy) and others. The weaving in and out of each other’s lives is pretty seamless. My main issue with the storytelling is the movie should have ended when the Baker and his Wife resolve their quest. Unfortunately it drags on unnecessarily.

The standout performance here is Meryl Streep’s Witch. Her singing was a little more spoken word but she showed she can perform at her usual top level in a musical setting. Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Scott Pilgrim VS the World) obviously nailed her vocals and was a very believable Cindarella. Johnny Depp was masterful as the Big Bad Wolf and James Corden and Emily Blunt were a cute, believable couple as well (Baker and Wife). The teenagers really held their own in this movie. Lilla Crawford (Red Riding Hood) was a perfectly precocious granddaughter and Daniel Huttlestone (Jack) followed up his impressive debut performance in Les Miserable (Gavroche) with an equally impressive performance here. The only person who really stood out for their bad performance was, as much as it pains me to say it, Chris Pine (Star Trek, Unstoppable). He was so skinny it looked like something was wrong with him, it was very off-putting and I did not like it when he was on the screen. Granted, I disliked his character very much (Cindarella’s Prince) but I don’t think I was supposed to.

Rob Marshall’s background and strength is in choreography, which shows, as the film was choreographed beautifully. The actors interacted brilliantly and everyone always seemed to be where they should. He had a talented cast and got the most out of them. I’m assuming the edginess and more risqué plot lines derive from the Broadway musical but I think he would have been wise to tone it down. The movie was a tad disjointed and didn’t walk the line of serious and funny as smoothly as I think it could have.

I think it comes down to this; if you are a musical theater lover, you will most likely enjoy this movie. You will have to look past some flaws and a gaudy run time of 124 minutes.

Into the Woods is streaming now on the following services:
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