Dave’s 3-Word Review:
OMG, just stop!
I like to see myself as a musical-appreciator. I do. I’ve seen a good fair share of musicals that I have enjoyed…more so than not. However, there is a guy in the musical industry that I just can’t stand, and his name is Stephen Sondheim. For instance, I hate Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street mostly for the songs that aren’t catchy, but instead repetitive and annoying. Into the Woods, on the other hand, takes all that and kind of brings it one step further by having a workable storyline and then completely destroying it halfway in. It’s hard to explain, so let’s first start with plot.
Alright, so this is the land of fairytales intertwined…sort of like in Shrek or more so like TV’s Once Upon a Time – and of course, it is filled with music. Now, the story is more or less focused on a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) as they are dealing with infertility. That is, until a witch comes around, promising them a child if they obtain four objects for her…which they need to get in the woods.
The woods in question is basically an international highway where all the fairytales cross paths. Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc. That part is really cool, and probably the best part of the film – how they were able to mix, mash, and weave all of these stories together was all sort of impressive. That being said, it’s also a flaw. As far as movies go, this was really jumbled storytelling from the get go. There were far too many characters to keep track of, and in my opinion, that distracted from the Baker’s story. He was clearly the main character because he was ultimately the glue that held the rest of the story and characters together…but because of a huge, never-ending cast…he was drowned out a bit. However, out of every flaw this film held, this was the most trivial.
Next comes the music. It’s a musical and music is unavoidable, that I get. However, it’s Sondheim. That means 90% of the film is filled with music, and not even great music at that. If none of the songs are sticking in my head; if I’m not singing or humming them later on throughout the day or week, I don’t think it did its job. In fact, the only feeling I got while listening to these songs was OH MY GOD, JUST STOP! – and I actually enjoy musicals! I can’t even begin to explain how annoyed I was with the music in this film…so you can understand my absolute rage when it overstays its welcome.
This is without the doubt the biggest flaw Into the Woods has: everything the plot sets up in the beginning – through all the characters, elements, and goals – ends exactly at 1 hour 15 minutes. After that, we’re given another hour or so of bad ideas and horrible writing. The events that follow in this film do not add to the plot, but instead subtract! It destroys everything the film had already set up for itself – making us question why we watched it in the first place. Include really annoying music that never ends and you have a film that’s just plain bad. Maybe it works in the Broadway play in which it’s based, but not here. Not here at all.
That’s not to say that people here didn’t do a good job. They did. There were talented singers and actors alike, and beyond that – there are some really nice set designs and overall visual imagery. Plus, somewhere deep down lies a very interesting and smart idea as far as combining beloved fairytale characters together goes. At the same time, I’d much rather just watch an episode of Once Upon a Time, because that’s a TV show – and doesn’t restrict itself to a certain time limit…plus there’s no singing. This was like taking 10 seasons of that TV show and mashing it up all together – and THEN adding a bunch of music that sounds like it was put together on one drunken and lonely night.
Everything else. The music was torture, the pacing is jacked, and the writing makes no sense because it singlehandedly destroys what was actually good about the movie (see above). In short, this movie makes me mad.
Johnny Depp, no one is going to believe you’re a wolf.