Into the Woods

Anyone else see this one? It’s an adaptation of the Sondheim musical, of course. A number of fairy tales are mashed together, where they fracture, deconstruct, and recombine. It’s like that ABC show Once but unlike Once it’s not a horrible waste of time. The songs are ridiculously ear-wormy. I’m still humming them a few days later. The highest point was Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Pitch Perfect) as Cinderella. She tackles this song about procrastination, which on the page or in a under-talented high school production could be a word salad, and illuminates the clever wordplay like a poet. The rest of the cast is more than game on the acting and singing fronts. I was especially impressed by the guy who played a baker, James Corden, and my wife tells me that he is going to be a late night talk show host.

I was dimly aware that this adaptation was missing a few songs and subplots and a Tolkien joke from the second half, but by then, my bladder was begging for sweet relief. It was just as well that it wrapped up earlier. Unlike the stage productions, there are no intermissions here.

So, Into The Woods: Children are awful, parents are worse, adults follow their base instincts more often than not, stories told to their natural conclusion are miserable. Perfect for the holidays with the family!

Thanks for starting a thread. I love the old broadway version that gets shown on PBS periodically.

So, seriously, would you take a family to it? I know there was some innuendo and dark turns in the stage version, and I kinda hope those are still in there; that’s fine. I’m more concerned with them being bored or confused by what’s going on. What do you think?

Hmm, how old is the family in question? The first time my little sister and I were exposed to Into the Woods, I was in eighth grade and she was in sixth. Part One was clear as a bell. There’s a narrator and the characters repeat their goals through prose and song. It’s like the best written and friendliest Fed-Ex quest ever. There’s no way they will be confused or bored.

Younger viewers might appreciate that some of the cast members are close to them in age. Jack d’Beanstalk has a certain Cousin Oliver thing going on. Little Red Riding Hood displays a hilarious, merciless naïveté, and has not yet begun to grow the dark moustache she will no doubt one day be furiously plucking.

Part Two descended into the darker parts that you mentioned. They have been blunted a bit in the movie version (and speaking of blunt, Emily Blunt was absolutely wonderful as well. What an incredible range on the Pragmatist Axis she has shown this year between this and Edge of Tomorrow) but the foggy morass of morality is still present. So while twelve-year-old-me understood that the baker’s wife and the prince were doing some dilly-dallying in the woods, I didn’t understand WHY they would do any dalliances since they already had perfectly good spouses. It was slightly more frustrating than confusing. Then there are the apocalyptic goings-on, and the movie refrains from revealing if our surviving heroes will wither and expire like the poor bastards in On the Beach, or live on and thrive like… Lot and his daughters. At best it might spark some great family discussions, open them up to how literary criticism and analysis can approach and dissect even childish fairy tales. At worst it might cause your children to question familial bonds and the possibility of a just God. If they saw and could handle Tangled, they could probably handle this.

Also, Meryl Streep was great.

My 8 year old daughter and 10 year old son both loved it. My daughter said it was her favorite movie ever. I thought it was excellent as well.

There is a little bit of darkness in the second half (the adultery bit from the musical is still in the movie, but it’s fairly tame). And we whispered a couple of things to them during the movie so they could keep track of what was going on, but I mean, heck, they get fairly tales better than we do. So they were pretty much in on the jokes and cleverness the whole time.

Seriously, a great movie.

Saw it and enjoyed it. My wife’s a huge fan of the musical, so she filled me in on the missing story beats. While it does hang together thematically as a film, there are definitely some huge missing points that would make it a lot more compelling with the missing hour. As she noted, it isn’t trying to be anything other than a filmed musical, so it’s basically like a Broadway production with an infinite stage budget (and edited for time).

the musical

Specifically, Rapunzel’s death and how that informs the Witch’s later actions and “death”. Of course, many of the central themes of parenting still worked, but the the Witch’s arc didn’t really make much sense. In fact, the whole second act kind of falters.

Also, by removing some of the “I wish” / reprise, some of those themes, including the more ominous nature of the ending, are muted.

The kids (Red and Jack) were surprisingly good, and James Corden was charming. Since I mostly recognize him from his brief Dr. Who appearance, I will now consider him typecast as “guy who is terrible with babies”. Chris Pine (either intentionally or not) was basically playing the Prince as William Shatner, so if it isn’t an intentional joke about his Star Trek work, I can see in retrospect how well cast he may have been in those movies.

Johnny Depp’s involvement was inoffensive.

Highlights for me were probably Red’s whole arc and the Agony song.

It isn’t saying anything new about the musical, but It’s clear that Sondheim thought a lot about fairy tales and read his Bettelheim and all that. It’s very weird to see a trailer for the new Disney Cinderella before this, when this has so much to say about fairy tales and the only thing the new Cinderella has to say is “Uh, it’s Cinderella…just, you know, more of it.”

I wanted to see it because of all the recognizable names in it, so I ended up seeing it on a date because I don’t think I could have gotten over the shame of going to the theater to see a musical by myself. My date didn’t like the movie at all, which I thought was kind of funny because she is normally into Disney movies and musicals and that kind of stuff. For my part, I liked it more than any of the Hobbit movies, although I thought it was overly long and the fact that it was like… 90% singing and 10% spoken dialogue kind of wore on me as the movie went on. Going into it I only knew who the actors were, so it being a musical was almost a complete surprise… or as much of a surprise it could be while being a Disney fairytale movie. It was a lot funnier than I thought it would be, which is always a plus.

The obvious metaphors throughout the movie weren’t so heavy handed as to be too annoying, but obvious enough that a kid might remember some of them and think back on the movie when they’re older and be like “Oooooo… THAT is what the Woods were!”

I saw this in NYC when it was first running. A wonderful show.

There is a High School play version of this going around, and from what I understand that version is ONLY the first act - which is a horrible idea. I have had fears that the film follows suit to make it more pleasing to a wider audience…

Is the second act of the musical mostly in the film? Judging by this comment:

So, Into The Woods: Children are awful, parents are worse, adults follow their base instincts more often than not, stories told to their natural conclusion are miserable. Perfect for the holidays with the family!

it is, but someone please confirm it for me.

That comment seems pretty accurate to me.

Yes, the second act is in the film, and it’s very well done.

A surprisingly great adaptation of a wonderful musical.

The second act is in there, but I believe it received more cuts than the first act. It also felt like they cuts they made were more expository, so the talking:singing ratio goes up significantly as they need to insert dialog to tell you what’s going on.

From what I gather, only the Baker/Jack arcs play out to completion. Rapunzel is almost entirely absent, meaning the Witch gets a confusingly truncated arc. While we do get the Baker’s wife meeting the Prince, the second Agony song is gone, and although there’s a brief scene between Cinderella and her prince that hits the same themes, they don’t have much impact.

I couldn’t wait to get Out of the Woods. I was bored out of my mind. I appreciated the intention of dispelling pat fairy tale tropes, and hey, who doesn’t love Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick?

I probably would have been more receptive to it as a live theatrical production, but somehow the movie just didn’t work for me. I did like James Corden, with whom I wasn’t that familiar. He just snagged a fave of mine, Reggie Watts from Comedy Bang Bang as his band leader in the upcoming late night show, so I’ll have to give it a watch.

Yeah, the lack of reprises definitely hurt the whole ‘before and after’ theme of the musical. I especially wish they hadn’t skipped the 2nd “into the woods” song, as that really nailed together the whole parallelism of it