Into the Woods

We might as well accept it. From this point on every time Meryl Streep does a movie, she’s going to get an Oscar nomination. Now given the paucity of good female roles in Hollywood, she’s probably going to deserve it but it will occur whether her performance is worthy or not.
I saw Into the Woods on Broadway years ago. Phylicia Rashad played the witch, not Bernadette Peters. I don’t remember much of the plot except that it was sort of an adult Fractured Fairy Tales. None of the music really stuck with me. A lot of this stuff came back as I watched the movie.
So a witch, played by Meryl Streep, has put a curse on a Baker, played by James Corden, and his wife, played by Emily Blunt. They cannot have children until they retrieve a series of magical items. To do this they must intrude on various well-known fairy tales, including Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood. They spend three nights running through the woods gaining and losing these items.
The director, Rob Marshall and James Lapine the screenwriter, who also wrote the book for the musical, take a pretty straightforward approach to the project. Consequently, the movie has a stagey feel to it. A lot of the action, like Jack’s adventures in the land of the giants, takes place off stage. Of course when the giant’s wife comes down to take revenge, the filmmakers are able to show her, but that really doesn’t do much to distract us from the fact we’re watching a film from a play.
The performances are fine and the singing is adequate. Anna Kendrick, who plays Cinderella, actually has a good voice and Meryl Streep can carry a tune as well. The only one who stands out negatively for singing is Johnny Depp. I gather there was some auto-tune involved, which I don’t consider a blasphemy. If you want to cast actors who are not trained singers for your musical and they need some help staying in key, why not? The guy who plays Superman can’t actually fly either.
This film didn’t really strike me emotionally, either positively or negatively. I enjoyed the visuals, the vibrant and dark blues and greens. The songs are pleasant enough. I’m just not sure that enough was done to differentiate it from the musical.
Meryl Streep was good though.


2 Responses to “Into the Woods”

  1. 1 L Smolucha January 4, 2015 at 12:32 am

    Without Bernadette Peters what’s the point?

  2. 2 theotherebert January 4, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    As I recall, Phylicia Rashad wasn’t bad. I would have like to have seen Bernadette Peters do it, however.

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