January 15, 2015

Into the Woods (2014)

Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp, et al

There are two types of musicals:

1. Classic musicals, where people randomly break into musical numbers, but otherwise talk normally. (Think: The Sound of Music. The real one--not the ridiculous Carrie Underwood version.)

2. Musicals where people sing the entire time, even throughout what should just be dialogue. (Think: every time a regular TV show decides to make a musical episode.)

This, my friends, is not The Sound of Music. Singing comprises about 95% of all words spoken in this movie, which means you have those awkward bridges of people singing to each other without a recognizable song that encompasses them. But, there are no Russell Crowes in this movie, so it's not quite as distracting or painful to watch.
The plot is really quite clever. The fairy tales are widely recognized and the idea of having them all intersect is interesting and at times, funny. The musical number where Chris Pine and whoever plays Rapunzel's prince rip open their shirts on top of a waterfall is slightly disturbing, even in spite of the fact that it's supposed to be satire, but I didn't mind the rest of the musical numbers.

Where the movie fell short for me, was in some of the casting. I found Little Red Riding Hood to be not really cute enough to overcome her bratty demeanor and Johnny Depp plays just another creepy Tim Burton-esque character with too much make-up. Chris Pine, though he tried, made a few too many creepy rapist faces to jibe with his Prince Charming character. I think he was trying to "smoldering." Again, I know he was supposed to be over-the-top, but instead of finding him amusing, I found him to be creepy. Like, you wouldn't want to be alone in the woods with him.

I also never cared for Jack and the Beanstalk, so to have that be sort of the main storyline was disappointing. Despite my beef with Chris Pine, I found the Cinderella storyline so much more compelling and Meryl Streep really brought life to Rapunzel, so the other main characters of Jack and Red Riding Hood really paled in comparison. Seriously though, I don't know what kind of preparation Meryl did for this movie, but her singing was about a hundred times better than in Mamma Mia!.

In all, the Golden Globes decided to recognize the fact that both Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep were excellent in their respective roles and that this movie was, overall, a successful adaptation of a play. It had some obvious flaws (like being a bit too long and Act III being awkwardly edited), but for those who can endure a lot of singing, was enjoyable enough to watch. I think people who didn't like it maybe didn't know what they were in for--perhaps they expected it to be more of a dark, creepy tale instead of the funny, satirical piece that it was. (Just look at the movie poster.) Or maybe it was just too much singing.

Final word: It sure beats watching another sequel.

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