Into the Woods
Director: Rob Marshall
Writer. James Lapine
Based on: James Lapine‘s (book) and Stephen Sondheim‘s (music and lyrics) musical, which is in turn based on a few Brothers Grimm fairy tales
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Lilla Crawford, Chris Pine, Billy Magnussen, Mackenzie Mauzy, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, Tracey Ullman, Meryl Streep, Simon Russell Beale, Johnny Depp, Frances de la Tour
Seen on: 11.3.2015
The baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) dream of having a child, but due to a curse by the evil witch (Meryl Streep), they can’t conceive. But the witch offers to reverse the curse – if they bring her certain items: a cow as white as milk, hair the color of corn, a golden slipper and a red cape. They set off into the woods where they hope to find all of those items. As luck will have it, Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) runs away from her prince (Chris Pine) in golden slippers, Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) tries to sell his white cow, Litte Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) is visiting her gran in her red cape and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) and her blonde hair meet her prince (Billy Magnussen) – all in those same woods. But things don’t go quite as planned.
The first half of Into the Woods is extremely enjoyable. In the second half, the plot completely unravels, but at least cast and production design are still awesome.
A few years ago I watched a stage recording of the musical but I have obviously forgotten the sucky second half. They have their happy end, and then things continue and get really bad. Which I could deal with. But what I could stomach less was the fridging of the baker’s wife in the most ridiculous way. Not only that, it took a story that was already leaning heavily towards him and his point of view and transformed it into a story that is all about a guy learning to deal with his daddy issues and become a father himself. And there are too many stories like that already.
At least up until then I really had fun. Meryl Streep is a wonderful bad witch, Anna Kendrick is a wonderful undecided Cinderella, I almost wanted Christine Baranski to be my stepmother because she was so awesome in her role. Johnny Depp hits all the right wrong buttons as the bad wolf. And when Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen have their agony-off, I actually cried from laughter.
The music and lyrics are also great and very recognizably Sondheim. Not all melodies are easily remembered, for that his music just isn’t pop-y enough, but that doesn’t matter. It’s enjoyable either way. Esepcially since his lyrics are really funny. It’s just not enough in the second half.
On a sidenote:
It took puzzledpeaces and me a bit until we managed to see the film – it seemed like the universe had conspired against us.
First attempt: we reserved tickets in our usual cinema – and fortunately we reserved tickets (we don’t, usually) because that way we got an e-mail a couple of hours before the showing that they canceled it.
Second attempt: The cancelation was not that catastrophic because they showed the film at another cinema at the cinema. So we went there instead, got our tickets, got a drink before the film started and then came to showing perfectly on time, settled in and the film that started was Inherent Vice. puzzledpeaces went to tell them to correct their mistake but it was not to be. Yeah, there had been a very short-term change of schedule and the boss had failed to tell the employees (our tickets still said Into the Woods) and we could now either watch Inherent Vice (or another film) or get our money back. We opted for Selma.
Third attempt: a week later we tried again in that second cinema. We arrived early because we wanted to get our tickets and then grab a drink – and again we were lucky because as we arrived at the cinema, we noticed that they were showing Love’s Labour’s Won that night – for which we had tickets, but we thought that they showed it three weeks later (it is still a mystery how we came by that information). So puzzledpeaces used the time to drive home and pick-up the tickets and we again didn’t see Into the Woods.
But finally, on our fourth attempt, we managed to actually see it. Apparently we had finally gathered enough magical items to reverse the curse.