“Into the Woods” is a live-action Disney musical starring Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, and Johnny Depp based on the Grimm fairytales. If you love musicals, then “Into the Woods” is the movie for you. If you’re like my family, then don’t bother. I however, am different from the rest of my family, I have read the fairytales that this movie is based on. This is a fair movie, and that is at it’s best. “Into the Woods” has near constant Disney/ theater style singing. There is actualy one rap song in this, which I will talk about later. This movie is 3/4 singing with the whole first 15 minutes hardly penetrated by a single non-crooned word.
I will elaborate on what I previously said about liking it because of the fairytales. “Roly, aren’t the cartoons much better than this? Why wouldn’t you just watch the cartoons instead?” Well, the cartoons have very different stories. The cartoons are much better, but they diverge drastically from the Grimm fairytales, from which most of them get their origins. “Into the Woods” sticks very close to the fairytales in the tellings of their origins. First, Cinderella was not originally from Grimm. Grimm is the most famous of the storytellers. So I will judge it on that. There is no Fairy Godmother. There is only a tree, planted over Cinderella’s mother’s grave, which magically gives her a dress and slippers. They don’t go with the fairy godmother story. They stick to the tree, which is much better.
Rapunzel is different as well. In the fairytale, she is locked in a tower because her father stole something out of the witch’s garden. The evil witch pretends to be her mother until she finds out that a prince has been visiting (and more) Rapunzel. She then cuts off Rapunzel’s hair, and pretends to be Rapunzel. When the prince climbs up, the witch pushes him out of the window. He then lands in thorns, which cushion his fall and cut his eyes out. Rapunzel, who was banished by the witch, then finds him and heals his eyes with her tears. The cartoon has not a prince, but a rogue coming to Rapunzel. He gets stabbed, not pushed out a window. “Into the Woods” sticks to the story (minus him getting pushed out a window and making Rapunzel pregnant.) The witch merely makes thorns magically appear in front of the prince, which then cut his eyes out.
Jack, from ‘Jack and the Beanstalk,’ and Little Red Riding Hood are also in the film. I will not take the time to go into them. Jack, as far as I know, is not a Grimm character anyway. The story of Little Red Riding Hood is consistent with the Grimm version.
Oddly, “Into the Woods” is a much better mashup of fairytales than the movie, “The Brothers Grimm.” The first two thirds are straight from the fairytales . The part after that, which I will talk about later, is about what happens after the fairytales.
The singing is my big complaint with the movie. It is what kept this movie from being great, to being a mediocre at best movie. The witch sings a song near the beginning which sounds very much like an attempt to rap. Leave the rhymes to Snoop Dogg, Meryl. She rhymes at a slow pace to music that plods along. It sounds much less like a fairytale chant, and more like rap. I can’t cover all the songs, because that would take as long as the movie. The girl playing little Red Riding Hood’s singing, plainly put, sucks harder than a man whose friend was just bit by a rattlesnake. Anna Kendrick (Cinderella) and the boy who played Jack were the best voices in the whole movie. Any time that the evil stepmother or sisters are in the movie, and sing, it becomes unbearable. Johnny Depp’s voice cracked like a 12 year old’s while singing.
The people who tie them all together are the baker and his wife; who are not from the Grimm fairytales. They all go into the woods, coincidentally. The witch put a curse on the baker’s family, that they would have no children. To lift the curse, they must bring back several items; all of which one of the other characters has. They get them, and get their “happily ever after;” and so do the other characters. This is a satisfying ending; A classic Grimm style ending. They all live happily ever after.
Then the writers royally screw things up. A giant comes and causes an earthquake, and they must go into the woods to find the giant. The giant somehow made the woods a jumble, so the paths are no longer there. That means, they can’t get out. They turn on each other. The baker’s wife goes away, and meets Cinderella’s prince on the way. The prince is a two-timing cad and seduces the baker’s wife. By the way, the baker’s wife has a little baby. They smooch and tongue, and we find out that the baker’s wife has as many morals as the before mentioned Snoop Dogg. I won’t give any more away, as I believe I have told enough.
If you want to watch a cinematic version of the Grimm fairytales and can tolerate constant crooning, then give this movie a try.