1/19/15

Into the Woods . . .

We finally went and saw "Into the Woods" the other night. If I am being totally honest I've been excited about this movie since I first heard rumor that they were making and casting Meryl Streep as The Witch. If she was the cornerstone . . . how could they go wrong?!

I probably knew more about Into the Woods than most people (a friend of mine went to see it and didn't realize, until the first words were intoned that the movie was a musical) in that I was not only aware that it was a, um, musical but I had seen the musical on the (proverbial) Great White Way at least a dozen years ago. I enjoyed it then and I loved the idea that fairy tales could overlap and that the notion of happy ever after not always being as simple as the characters had hoped . . . how could they go wrong?!

Well, dear reader, I'm here to tell you - they went wrong. There were a few things I enjoyed about the musical. The casting was almost entirely great - both in the people that I knew (Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Christine Baranski, Anna Kendrick (I still hate the "cup" song), Tracy Ullman, Christopher Pine, etc.) and those I was not-yet familiar with (I don't know their names off the top of my head). I hated, hated, hated Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf.

While certainly the lyrics and lines he recited were not his own his version of a pimp/pedophile/sexual deviant character were almost too much for me. I was also not crazy about the casting of Rapunzel. I didn't find her "believable" as a fairy tale creature set away from the world for her entire life.

I thought the sets, in Disney tradition, were great and I enjoyed that they made most of them feel about the right size and scope for scenes that originally played out on a stage. A notable (and probably my favorite part of the WHOLE movie being the river/waterfall set for "Agony".

Generally speaking, that was about it. I thought the director (the experienced Rob Marshall) focused too much on the dark and gloomy parts of the source work (acknowledging here that the show is about people who have their own selfish motives spending three days in dark, dense woods) and not enough on idea that sometimes what we really need is not as obvious as what we want and that - if we can survive the darkness - the light is warm and gentle.

I didn't hate the movie - not by any stretch (I secretly cheer for any movie musical (the kiddo and I have been working through the classics like Fiddler on the Roof, Little Shop of Horror, Evita, and the more-recent Les Miserables)) but I didn't love it and I don't know how much I would push anyone else to see it.