Into the Woods takes the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical and translates it for the big screen. I had big hopes for this film, but there are a few bumps along the way. All the ingredients for it to be a huge success were there. Solid cast? Check. Solid musical score? Check. Johnny Depp? Check. While I enjoyed certain performances, unfortunately I wasn’t too thrilled with this magical tale as a whole.
The film adaptation of the musical brings together the stories of multiple Grimm fairy tale characters including Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Prince Charming (Chris Pine), Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy), Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) and The Wolf (Johnny Depp) in an original story following The Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) as they try to collect ingredients for The Witch (Meryl Streep) to perform a spell that will give them a child.
The film’s best musical performance has to go to Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen’s over-the-top rendition of “Agony,” while the worst would probably go to Johnny Depp’s pedo-y version of “Hello, Little Girl.” The entire audience was cracking up as the handsome-yet-campy princes professed their, well, agony over the princesses they longed to be with but couldn’t attain due to differing obstacles. You can tell the pair had fun with it while filming – which certainly had an effect on the audience, who had fun while watching. Johnny Depp’s turn as The Wolf, on the other hand, made me feel like I needed an adult and a shower. I’m sure this was just Johnny Depp playing Johnny Depp in a wolf costume, but when there’s a little girl on the receiving end of Depp’s Depp-ness, it comes off a little… wrong.
Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick and Emily Blunt gave overall standout performances. Streep maintained an impressive balance between effortlessly funny and evil as The Witch. Although her reason for imparting the curse on The Baker’s family may not be the most convincing, I believed that she genuinely cared about Rapunzel just as much as I believed she would give a young boy up to a giant without a second thought. Anna Kendrick was enjoyable as the indecisive Cinderella who eventually learns a lot about the fine art of making choices (and look out for funny performances from Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard and Lucy Punch as Cinderella’s Kardashian-like stepmother and stepsisters). Emily Blunt gave a sincere performance as The Baker’s Wife and watching her often comical interactions with onscreen husband James Corden were pretty entertaining.
I guess where my issues come in are with the inclusion of the seemingly meaningless Rapunzel plot. Certain scenes seem a little underdeveloped, and I had the feeling that I’d missed something at certain points. Perhaps, I may not have felt that way had I seen the play beforehand. The acting was solid overall, but the story could have used a little more work. While aware that this is a film adaptation of a musical and knowing some things have to be left out for time’s sake, it just seemed like in some cases the wrong things were left out (or included). That’s all I’ll say about that without getting spoilery.
Into the Woods is a musical’s musical, so if you aren’t fond of the genre, steer clear because there’s definitely a song every other minute (not that I’m complaining). I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going in, because I’d never seen the play and decided against researching beforehand, so that I could watch with an open mind. I did enjoy the beginning of the film and seeing how all of the stories were intertwined. Visually, it’s gorgeous, but as the movie went on I found myself feeling less and less enchanted overall.
‘Into the Woods’ Review: I Wish… I Liked It More
‘Into the Woods’ Trailer
Photo Credit: Disney