Studio: Disney (2 hr. 5 min.)
Plot: A modern twist on several Brothers Grimm fairy tales tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife.
Cast: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, Johnny Deep, Jake Gyllenhaal, Christine Baranski
Bottom Line: *
By Laurence Washington
I had high hopes for “Into The Woods.” But they were quickly dashed five minutes into the picture as I seriously considered excusing myself and heading towards the nearest exit. Instead of a musical reimaging of “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Cinderella” and “Rapunzel,” “Into The Woods” is a failed attempt to spin four beloved Brothers Grimm classics together.
The story’s premise follows a village baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) who are unable to conceive, because the neighborhood witch (Meryl Streep) placed a curse upon them. Years ago, the baker’s father had stolen some magic beans from the witch’s garden – thus the curse.
The witch sets the couple upon a series of task to lift the hex:
1.) find a cow as white as milk (From Jack),
2.) a cape as red as blood (From Red Riding Hood),
3.) hair as yellow as corn (From Rapunzel),
4.) a slipper as pure as gold (From Cinderella).
However, there’s no explanation whatsoever why the witch didn’t add a much needed coherent script to the baker’s scavenger hunt. It would have been a better movie.
Granted, “Into The Woods” is a show stopping Stephen Sondheim Broadway classic, that offers a few chuckles as the baker and his wife set about their task. However, the stage magic just doesn’t transfer onto the silver screen.
Johnny Deep as the Big Bad Wolf is a hoot, and Chris Pine as the morally challenged Prince Charming adds an entertaining take to the character. He tells Cinderella, “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” But that’s all folks. The songs are unmemorable, so forget about walking out of the theatre humming any catchy show tunes – something you’d expect from Disney. The songs just don’t stay with you. And the lavish set designs are just a distraction from the makeshift script.
However, my thoughts of this uneven film don’t add up to a hill of beans (forgive the pun), because the theatre audience during the screening applauded during the end credits. That being said, I will admit seeing The End appear across the screen was my favorite part of the film.
This column was printed in the January 25, 2015 - February 7, 2015 edition