Into The Woods – Almost A Great Movie – Review

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Photo Courtesy Disney

This is not your father’s Disney musical, so get all of those images of Frozen out of your head, and, more importantly, out of your kid’s head.  This one is more for teens, and adults with a sense of humor.

James Corden and Emily Blunt star as a Baker and his Wife who greatly yearn to have children, but an old curse has stood in the way of their familial desires.  Years ago, The Baker’s father wronged the next door neighbor, a mean Witch (Meryl Streep), who put a curse on successive generations.

She has offered to lift the curse, but The Baker and his Wife must collect several items from fairy tale lore in order to help The Witch regain her beauty.  Along the way, they run into Jack (from Beanstalk fame), Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and so many more.

Into The Woods is an amazing, fun, fantastic, hilarious movie … for the first two-thirds of the film.

Who the heck ruined it with that last act?

Adapted by James Lapine (based on the musical he wrote with Stephen Soundheim), the first two-thirds of Into The Woods are AWESOME.  Into The Woods is a sassy, funny, humorous send up of classic fairy tales with wonderfully twisted takes on the characters we know all mish mashed together for our entertainment.  This is the movie I wanted Maleficent to be.

Meryl Streep is amazingly fantastic as always.  Within the first three lines, you want to give her the Oscar as this menacing, angry, bitter witch.  Then, Lilla Crawford steals the show as the snotty Little Red Riding Hood.  Her brattiness yields the movie’s best laughs as this kid storms through Into The Woods with no regrets for her behavior, playfully oblivious to the offenses.

However, the last act, even though it is true to the original, is a mess.  Director Rob Marshall can’t find a way to elevate the finale from the lifeless, directionless, unsatisfying, pointless, plodding flop it is.  Action and plot twists happen for no reason other than some lame attempts to justify the last act’s existence.  It’s as if someone else with absolutely no talent wrote the last act after someone awesome wrote the first two-thirds of the movie.  This last act has a completely different tone and feel that loses the fun.

Lapine and crew just don’t know what to do once we get past the original story and try to take our characters beyond the superficial.

What happens in the woods stays in the woods.

2_5waffles_sml2 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

Into The Woods is rated PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material.

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1 Comment

  • Emily Grace Rowson

    If you’re going to write a review on a musical-to-movie adaptation, it’s actually important to have seen the musical prior to the movie, which you clearly did not. The second act of the musical is all about the “be careful what you wish for” aspect of the Grimm Fairytales that the musical is based off of. The first act is what’s supposed to give you more of a “Disney” feel, and why I suspect most of the cuts were taken from the second act. A lot of the character’s points were lost in cutting so drastically from the second act. The song “No More” between the Baker and the Mysterious Man could have been an Oscar winning moment for James Corden, but instead they cut the part of the Mysterious Man almost entirely and replaced the song with a brief conversation.
    The biggest problem with this movie was not the “jumbled mess” that you call the last third of the movie, but the fact that due to either casting choices or cuts from the show, we lost the depth of a lot of the characters. Cutting Agony Reprise made it seem like only Cinderella’s Prince was a jerk, not the concept of men in general, like it’s supposed to be. By casting Jack and Red so young, we lose the adult natures of the characters.
    Overall, this musical adaptation was actually my favorite one I have seen, besides MAYBE Phantom of the Opera. Heck, I even kind of enjoyed Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the Wolf. At least everyone in this movie could actually sing their music well.

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