From stage to the big screen, Into the Woods belts out some catchy showtunes. Believe me, these songs will be stuck in your head all damn day but that’s ok because the musically star-struck talent (Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Daniel Huttlestone, Lilla Crowford and Johnny Deep) helped uphold the film. Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) goes back to his Broadway roots and adapts Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s highly known adult fairy tale into a mostly satisfying result. Even with its PG rating, Into the Woods is still undeniably dark so don’t fret Sondheim fans. The plot interweaves familiar tales of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella to revolve around a lonesome Baker (a charming Corden) and his beautiful wife (Blunt, wonderful), who’s longing for a child, in this fantasy crossover.
Bam! Enter the Witch (Streep, marvelous as ever) from next door. And does she make an entrance! Her tremendous presence over powers the crowd with oohs and awes. Streep has continued to add to her hefty list of nominations by receiving her 29th Golden Globe nom for this film. She has made her path through film history as one of the greatest actresses ever to be on screen. With her blue hair and gothic entire, Streep is capable of all kinds of magic, good or bad. Her performance alone completely made the film for me. The Witch tells the Baker that she put a spell on his family years prior when she discovered his father stole from her precious garden.
The items were magic beans and the Baker discovers them, conveniently enough, in his father’s old coat pocket. As you can guess those beans make their way into the hands of a young boy named Jack (Huttlestone). The Witch tells the Baker if he wants to uplift this curse he needs to obtain four items: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold. This is where the other characters come into play and we're off into those alluring woods! Into the Woods hits all of the right notes and at times can be a bit drowning with its over-the-top in you face numbers, but it's always performed to the highest from these actors.
Kendrick gives us a different take as the runaway maiden, Cinderella, by adding a timid side to her character. Deep comes in for about 20 minutes to deliver a spooky performance as the Big Bad Wolf. Pine sweeps in as the seductive prince and is down right hilarious every time he makes an appearance on screen. The brother’s duet (Pine and Billy Magnussen), “Agony,” is killer funny and is the most entertaining number in the film. Long side the cast is Red (Crowford ) and Jack who are delightful throughout all of their numbers. And finally, that leaves us with Corden and Blunt who are the heart of this story. Corden (One Chance and Begin Again) is finally making a name for himself and brings absolute charisma to the Baker. Blunt is with him every step of the way, even when she makes some last minute wrong decisions at the end. Even when the final act gets shaky and veers off the path, Into the Woods is a fun adventure. The film ends, sings some more, and then it finally ends, but it’s still a magical sing-along ride worth taking.
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