Review - Into the Woods

Into the Woods (2014), PG, 124 minutes - Ordinarily, I'm not much of a musical fan but this big screen adaptation of the Broadway show caught my eye thanks to its cast and the way it mashes up a number of fairy tales (including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel).

The story opens with a in which we learn what the various characters wish for but the film primarily revolves around the baker (James Cordon) and his wife (Emily Blunt) and their task to collect four items so that the witch next door (Meryl Streep) will reverse the curse that she had put on the baker's bloodline many years before. Only then will their wish of being able to conceive a child come true. The items they must obtain just happen to be items from the other fairy tale characters and their stories: one of Cinderella's (Anna Kendrick) slippers, Jack's (Daniel Huttlestone) cow, a lock of Rapunzel's (Mackenzie Mauzy) hair, and Little Red Riding Hood's (Lilla Crawford) cloak. The hunt for these items plays out, as one may have guessed as these characters venture 'into the woods' as each of their journeys begins.

Those primary characters are well performed, both musically and theatrically in the rare occasions that they are not singing. Johnny Depp (Wolf), Chris Pine (Cinderella's Prince), Christine Baranski (Stepmother), Tammy Blanchard (Florinda), Lucy Punch (Lucinda), Billy Magnussen (Rapunzel's Prince), Tracey Ullman (Jack's Mother), and Frances de la Tour (Giant) round out a cast that brings this fairy tale mash up to life, sometimes a bit more cheesily than others, but almost always entertainingly.

Into the Woods runs just over two hours, which felt just a little long to me. The story reaches a point where it looks as though the characters will get their 'happily ever afters' only to have events spiral out of their control. I didn't mind this turn in the story, but I felt as though it dragged on a bit in resolving things afterwards.

If you don't care for musicals stay clear of this one. But if you do enjoy musicals, or even just interesting, alternate takes on classic stories, then Into the Woods could provide a fun and relaxing break from the hectic holiday season.


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