Musicals are fun, generally, but in the past few years there have been a couple of musicals filled to the brim with grim (And this one literally took the grim from Grimm, which wasn’t a bad take in my humble opinion). Into the Woods is a good film adapted from a musical, something that seems to be picking up steam these days, so I suppose it’s only a matter of time before we get a remake of the adaptation of the musical (whew that’s a doozey!).
Starring the likes of Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, and what amounts to a cameo from Johnny Depp (though the promotional material would have you believe he’s as important as Rogue was supposed to be in Days of Future Past). When I first saw this I was pleasantly surprised by Christine Baranski’s appearance, though I adore her in The Good Wife and Mamma Mia (thus the pleasantly, if I wasn’t as obvious as I could possibly be). And a few others who, while not entirely unknown, just simply haven’t hit it big yet (but there’s still years to come! Maybe a new YA trilogy will give your shot to fame!).
James Corden is our protagonist, The Baker, and because of the Witch from next door (Streep) having placed a curse on his house for his father’s thievery, must now find four items for a potion so that he and his wife (Blunt) can have a baby. Unfortunately this in turn bleeds into the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk, and Little Red Riding Hood (Rapunzel kind of only tagged along, really they could have cut that whole section out and it still would have made sense without a little bit more drama).
While there is a bit of dialogue that isn’t a part of a song the majority of our tale is told through repeated rhymes because (reasons!) it’s a musical. What can set a musical apart from those that are simply okay is undeniably the cast and its ability to hold a tune, however, this isn’t a musical it is a musical film so the rules are different. While each and every actor in the film can sing (or we simply missed the credit for someone who provided their singing voice for the unfortunate actor who isn’t also a singer or a director) they aren’t necessarily cast for their singing ability. A musical is a straight shot through the entire play, so you cast the actor with the best voice who can play the part, hold the song throughout the duration (especially if they’re a main character), and look good doing so. Not so in a movie, where it is filmed almost entirely out of sequence, like it was a Quentin Tarantino movie from hell, so we are only ever presented with the best take given (and sometimes not even the same take for every actor, thank God for B Roll!).
Into the Woods is dark and dreary but not at all boring because it pulled pieces together it knew would make a good movie and cut out others that couldn’t fit for time, didn’t make sense, or couldn’t be done justice (once again more than likely for the first two reason). The actors provide us with a fun time because, as I said before, musicals are fun!