Into The Woods is based on a musical that originally premiered in San Diego back in the 80’s before moving to Broadway and I think London in due course. Stephen Sondheim penned the musical and returns for the film adaption. Directing duties are undertaken by Rob Marshall who is best known for the film version of Chicago (2002). The film features a varied cast of well known names led by the ever reliable Meryl Streep. The film weaves together numerous well known fairy tales into a narrative around a baker and his wife, played by James Corden and Emily Blunt, who must complete a variety of tasks to overcome a curse placed on their house by the witch next door (Streep).
Into the Woods is a stink bomb, a complete turkey, a howler of a mistake from Disney. It has many problems which begin with the music which is completely unmemorable. It utilises the same half dozen chords from start to finish. There’s no hook or catchy melody to sell it to audiences – it sounds like the filler music you normally get between the big set pieces. There is a (mercifully) brief appearance by Johnny Depp as the Wolf who comes across as a bit of a pervert describing Little Red Riding Hood as “lush”. There is a scene in which the Witch refers to the “rape” of her garden and such language feels out of kilter with a Disney family film.
The uneven tone is why I think this film fails. From what I have learned Disney has removed some of the adult themes from the original musical but appears to have left some more grown up language in the lyrics. I think the adaptation has been done in a really lazy fashion, a few tweaks here and there then stick in theatres. The music should have been redone completely. The best moment in the film is a song called Agony that features Chris Pine as a Prince Charming character. It’s over the top and tongue and cheek – this is the tone that Disney should have adopted for the whole piece and I think they would have had a winner.
I loved Enchanted (2007) and I think this could have been better. It certainly had the cast and an interesting premise that was under utilised. My recommendation is don’t waste your money and go to the cinema. Sit on the couch and put on the Enchanted or Frozen (2013) DVD for the millionth time. Score 1/5.