With an all-star cast, including Meryl Streep (the Witch), Emily Blunt (the Baker’s Wife), Anna Kendrick (Cinderella), Johnny Depp (the Big Bad Wolf) and James Corden (the Baker), plus working with Stephen Sondheim’s superb lyrics and music, you’d think that Director Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods would be one of the best films of the year.
Well, it is for about 85% of the running time. Then, Writer Ken Lapine veers from the stage Book and the story seems to get lost in the woods, making it somewhat unintelligible for those, like me, who didn’t see the stage production. And, though I was, subsequently, told things were left out which would have made the conclusion more understandable, that didn’t make the popcorn go down any better.
When all the remaining characters in this fairytale gone dark were blaming each other, I was wondering what Cinderella ever did that was wrong and didn’t get why the Witch deserved to die, when she was no worse than some of the others. (And, why did her magic beans, suddenly, make muck when they had been growing beanstalks throughout?)
Then, they sing “Children Will Listen” and I’m wondering what they’re supposed to be listening to, having missed (if it was there) that you have to be careful of what you say…because children will listen. But, most of the people singing are children, so that didn’t make sense.
If this isn’t making sense, here’s the bottom line… If you are taking a child under 6 or 7, I suggest you leave after the initial “happy ending.” That’s right before the supposed earthquake.
For those of you, like me, who don’t mind the dark turn, you’re on your own if you want to stay after the Baker’s Wife is seduced and the Prince gives the best line in the movie. Better to go out on a high, than in confusion.
Still, Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics are brilliant and the performances are top rate. So, I give Into the Woods a 4 out of 5.