I saw the film version of Into the Woods. I saw it finally at home with my mother who is not a big fan of musicals but we enjoyed ourselves. Meryl alone was worth renting it from Redbox. Emily Blunt and James Corden did marvelous as the Baker and his wife. Anna Kendrick was great as always. Even Captain Kirk(Chris Pine) was nice to see as The Prince but the whole time I was watching it, I kept comparing it to the stage version.
It’s a horrible thing to do to compare a movie to its source material. You never give it a chance to be its own thing. In the bare bones department, this movie stands in line with the film. The main plot is the same: The Baker and his wife go into the woods to get the following items:
- The Cow as white as milk.
- The cape as red as blood.
- The hair as yellow as corn
- The slipper as pure as gold.
They get the item after some run-ins with classic characters and everyone is living happily ever after. But…then the consequences come in to play. The Giants come down and the life after “Happily Ever After” comes into play. People die and new families are made. It’s the same story.
With the cut of the narrator (the biggest mistake in my opinion), the loss of most of Rapunzel’s story line, the loss of some songs that dive deeper into the emotions of the characters, the film felt flat.
Film is about characters and where they go on their external and internal journey. There was so much story to cover that we never got emotional moments with anyone but the Baker and the witch, not long ones. I honestly felt like we were being rushed. Yet, that is the risk you play when you are taking a musical and trying to make it palatable for the mass public and less than 2 and a half hours, something’s got to give.
But like I said above, you can’t compare this film to its source material. You can’t compare film to theater. Theater is solos and a darken stage and seeing the actors react in real time. Film is not. Film is having a real Milky White and fantastical entrances by the Witch and an actual visible Giant.
I think that this film was great on its own. I enjoyed it. My mother, the non musical fan enjoyed it, so that was a good thing. I am just realizing that filmmakers figured out how to adapt stage musicals to film in the 1960s, forgot, figured it out again, and then forgot again. I think filmmakers are experimenting with this. It’s kind of exciting to watch even if the execution is less than perfect.
Side Note: Key and Peele have a great sketch by the way that states my opinion about Into the Woods and other films during Oscar season: