My apologies for the Tuesday Edition of Entertainment Monday, which manifest itself out of the business of the holiday season and Jon Bear's forgetfulness. >.<
Into the Woods is a movie starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and a cast of many others. I was aware of the Broadway play Into the Woods that came out several years ago but was not familiar with the story line and I did not know that the movie was an adaptation of the play until it began and the opening song gave it away as a musical. I have seen several movie adaptations of musicals this past year either in the theatre or on video including Mamma Mia and Jersey Boys.
Into the Woods follows several fairy tale stories set around a main story which involves an evil (though I use the term evil a bit tongue in cheek) witch (Meryl Streep) who has cast a spell on a young baker and his wife that will make their house barren unless they are able to gather four things and deliver them to her before the blue moon in three days time. The baker is very dependent upon his wife and wishes to take matters into his own hands to accomplish the tasks set forth by the witch. He also feels a sense of guilt because it was his own father's theft of the witches magic beans that brought the curse down upon their house.
The four items the baker and his wife must collect for the witch include a red hooded robe, a cow white as milk, a glass slipper and golden hair as gold as corn. That's of course where the tales of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Rapunzel all fit into the story. The witch must not touch any of the items collected. She seeks these items to return to the beauty of her youth.
The heart of the movie though is not so much the fairy tales or even the story that they center around, but the message the musical tries to send. It's a message about life and how people must take risks and chances, must have faith in one another, must not only succeed but also must fail. It does not so much dispel the "fairy tale" ending as it reshapes it. All the characters have admirable characteristics but they also all have faults.
I thought the movie was very good. It did get a little long though. It runs a little over two hours and I found myself at one point wondering how much longer the movie was going to be. Once they made the essential point of the film it seems as if it dragged out over the last 20 minutes or so. The acting was very good as would be expected from an all star cast and the singing was WORLDS better then the singing in Mamma Mia. I would give the movie a 7 out of 10, and probably would have rated it higher then that if they had found a way to shorten it a little bit. I think they could have entirely cut out the Rapunzel aspect of the story as it far and away the least developed aspect lending to the central story. Outside of the witch needing the golden hair it lacked a purpose. Well, in truth, it had potential for a bigger purpose in the central story then any of the other side stories, which is hinted at early on, but for whatever reason, be it time or forgetfulness, the fact alluded to a link between the baker and Rapunzel in the beginning of the movie is never developed later on in the film or discussed again. If you see the movie, you might notice it as a rather large and considerable oversight.
It is definitely worth seeing. I don't know that I would watch it in the theatre again, but for dropping a couple of dollars on movie night at home it's a worth while film. Out of the musicals I saw this past year Jersey Boys was clearly the cream of the crop, but Into the Woods was very good as well. It might take a sedative as well as a gurney with some straps on it to get me to watch Mamma Mia again. >.<