Into the Woods
Fairy tales are timeless. Their characters are timeless, their morals are timeless, and more importantly, their entertainment value is timeless. These stories have been around for hundreds of year, being told by an adult to a child about how ones wish can come true. I got my fix from the story books I received for Christmas and through Disney movies. As a writer, I continue to be inspired and encouraged by their odd characters and simple a bizarre tale can be. These stories are still popular because they are simple and is something that a lot of fantasy writers for children miss.
Telling these fairy tales in a different way is also nothing new. Shrek took it to satire levels and Snow White and the Huntsman gave it a darker spin. You could even argue that Disney’s way of telling Cinderella and Rapunzel is significantly different from the original source material.
Once such musical that takes in several fairy tales is Into the Woods. Famed musical composer Stephen Sondheim crafted this fantasy onto the Broadway stage back in 1987 and won the heart of critics and audiences alike, now becoming a popular community theater show. Into the Woods now gets its turn for the stage to film adaptation.
Right at the start, the introduction song gives us our main characters and their dilemmas; a Baker (played by James Corden) and his wife (played by Emily Blunt) want a child, but seem to have a lot of trouble conceiving. Little Red Riding Hood simply wants to visit her grandma without running into strangers. A young Jack is being forced to sell his white cow by his mother (played by Tracey Ullman) for gold. And finally, Cinderella (played by Anna Kendrick) wants to go to the three day festival and meet the prince.
The Baker and his wife are visited by their next door neighbor, a Witch (played by Meryl Streep) who tells them that she can remove that curse that’s preventing the couple from having a baby. All they have to do is collect a white cow, a red cape, yellow hair and a red cape. All of these things are in the woods as the witch says before disappearing. The baker and his wife depart for the dark forest and meet up with the other characters as they solve their own problems and consider that maybe “happily ever after” is not the end.
Earlier this year, I’ve talk about already knowing plenty about Jersey Boys and Annie. Into the Woods is a show that I’m not familiar with, though now I’m curious to see what the production is like on stage. Into the Woods may seem like a done-to-death idea, but director Rob Marshal (same man behind Chicago) has creating something that had to be seen around the holidays; a fun spectacle that will be of constant rewatching for years to come. This ranks up there with Wizard of Oz and Hook for taking such a fantasy and giving it a very awesome atmosphere.
This is a movie where everyone is casted correctly. Everyone is a great singer, great comic and well fits their fairy tale part (I didn’t even mention Johnny Depp as the wolf or Chris Pine as the prince). Like in her other roles, Meryl Streep steels all her scenes as the witch. The given instructions create for an easy story for our heroes; it’s just the final act I only have an issue with. While not a bad climax, it just takes a little long. Maybe a song or ten minutes could have been cut, but that’s just a small complaint.
I’ll give this five sets of fairy tale woods out of five. Into the Woods is definitely too scary for children under eight, but those children above and beyond (adults mostly) should be filled musical magic and a spell of enjoyment.