Into the Woods (2014): Be Careful What You Wish For

Posted: February 21, 2015 in Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Musical
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into-the-woods-poster1A baker and his wife. A boy selling a cow. A red-hooded girl. A woman in a tower. Another controlled by her family. These seemingly unconnected people become intertwined when a witch seeks to break a spell placed upon her years ago. She appears before the baker and demands that he gather key items for her within three days time and she will remove a curse she placed on his family, allowing him and his wife to bear a child. Of the items he needs to find are a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold. As the baker and his wife head out to retrieve the items, they find that each item is attached to one of the others bound to them by destiny. Each of the encounters also begins to muddle the idea of happily ever after and unleashes a potentially large threat upon the land.

Review: In an adaptation of the 1986 musical, Rob Marshall aimed to take the mashup of these Brothers Grimm fairytales and get the story onto the big screen after 15 years of trying. Overall, the musical was entertaining, but it was also not the full story as originally projected. With Disney at the helm, there was a slightly lesser focus on adult themes, even though there were significant swings in the tone of the story. While only Meryl Streep (the witch) has received recognition for her performance, the overall cast balanced each other out well. James Corden (the baker) and Emily Blunt (the baker’s wife) present a great back and forth conflict of partnership and individuality, Daniel Huttlestone (Jack) shows off a solid singing voice, Lilia Crawford (Red Riding Hood) maintains a fun sassiness, and Anna Kendrick (Cinderella) shows off a combination of her vocal talents and fun energy.

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Where the film succeeds is with its light-hearted humor. One of the best scenes included Billy Magnussen (Rapunzel’s prince) and Chris Pine (Cinderella’s Prince) in a battle of angst put to a flighty ballad. Cinderella’s inner turmoil over running from the prince was also another great moment. Each of these elements helped to keep the overall feel whimsical without taking away from the overall story.

While imaginative, the part when the fairytales start to go wrong ended up being where the musical lost a bit of steam. The witch’s purpose for breaking the spell on her seemed fruitless. The ragtag group is united, but ultimately falls short of a truly happy ending. Rapunzel’s (Mackenzie Mauzy) story felt like an afterthought, considering her hair was not truly the ingredient needed by the witch. Shortcomings, like these, and the potential Disney (or some other production company) could have taken to be a little more risqué with their storytelling take away from this musical truly being larger than life.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5

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