Into the Woods
Running Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
A childless Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) live in a village on the edge of the woods and dream about having a child. One day a witch (Meryl Streep) storms into their shop and tells them that she can undo the curse keeping them from conceiving if they can bring her four special items before midnight three days hence. The Baker and his wife are to enter the woods and find a cow as white as milk, a hood as red as blood, hair the color of corn and a slipper as pure as gold. Their quest causes them to cross paths with Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) and Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and pulls them into a greater adventure than they could ever imagine.
I had a blast watching Into the Woods. Based on the Broadway musical of the same name and filled withStephen Sondheim music that is clever, funny and catchy, it is a very enjoyable time at the movies. The cast is a nice mix of Hollywood stars and musical theatre pros which blend together to make sure we get theatre-level vocals without the cartoonishly broad performances that can sometimes accompany them. Streep is, of course, amazing as she explodes through every scene with abandon, but the movie is really a showcase forCorden and Blunt. There is a spark between them and they (Blunt especially) have a twinkle in their eyes as they throw themselves into the adventure. Corden gets a chance to display impressive range both vocally and emotionally which may prove to be invaluable as an introduction to American audiences as he is about to take over the reigns of The Late Late Show. Chris Pine is also startlingly good during his musical number with Billy Magnussen as princes arguing over whose unrequited love is more painful.
The younger actors, led by Huttlestone and Crawford are bursting with charm and wit and they never get overshadowed by the bigger stars. You may recognize Huttlestone from his role as Gavroche in Les Miserables a few years ago and while he was great then, he is even better now. Crawford makes Red Riding Hood a motor-mouthed dreamer who steals every scene she is in. The only drawback to the film versus the stage show is that it had to be trimmed down and therefore there are some plot shifts that are very jagged. When the film loses a few characters, it is jarringly abrupt with little build-up and even less payoff which kills some of the key emotional scenes. The storyline between Mauzy’s Rapunzel and her prince (Magnussen) is also truncated and by far the least explored of any in the film. Those things are unavoidable in this type of adaptation and so I don’t judge Into the Woods too harshly for it. A-