MINI MOVIE REVIEW: “Into the Woods” (2014)

If you know the show you're already humming the tune. You're welcome for the earworm.

If you know the show you’re already humming the tune. You’re welcome for the earworm.

Let me just preface this by saying that I am a theatre major, with a BA in general Theatre Arts and an MFA in Scene Design.  So I know me some theater.  I happened to be in New York when Into the Woods was playing on Broadway, but it wasn’t on our schedule, and I opted to see Mikhail Barishnikov in Metamorphosis on our night off.  But I’ve seen at least 3 — possibly 4 — productions of Into the Woods as well as being an enormous Sondheim groupie, in the way that only a theatre major can be.  So I honestly came to this movie with trepidation, knowing how tenuous (and possibly disastrous) a movie version of a stage production can be.  The film versions of A Little Night Music*** and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum come to mind (both Sondheim!).

Into the Woods, though, does surprisingly well.  It’s not an easy show to translate to film, but I think if you can go in with a fairly open mind, you will be pleasantly surprised.  The Narrator as a separate character has been removed, and the appearance of the Old Man/Baker’s Father is also reduced, but it works just fine.  In fact, what they do with the “narrator” adds a kind of sweetness to the overall picture.  I think the movie is charming, funny, sweet, and thoroughly enjoyable — and even passes the strict demands of this theatre major.

The only thing that gave me pause — and kind of kept me from wanting to see this — was the idea of Johnny Depp as the Wolf.  Over the years, it seems that Johnny Depp has gotten, well, overrated.  Seriously.  It’s as if producers think to themselves, let’s just throw Johnny into the mix and everything will be all right.  The end result, though, is that we’re watching Johnny Depp pretend to be a wolf, and we know it.  Johnny does okay with the characterization — in fact, his wolf is the smarmiest Wolf I’ve seen — but certainly the costume doesn’t scream Hi, I’m a Wolf! to me.

“Woof, baby.”

Really, he looks more like a pimped-out version of Top Cat to me.  Maybe if he had more wolf coloring in his face?  Maybe if he had a wolfy-snout?  Maybe if he was as anatomically correct as the original stage costume was?

“Can’t look anywhere else, can you, Red Riding Hood?”

Okay, for a Disney film, wherein the wolf actually sings to an actual child, maybe not so much.

So.  Is it good?  Yes.  Is it worth seeing?  Definitely!  It was a treat.  Especially the song Agony as sung by the two Princes, Chris Pine and Billy Magnusson:

“My codpiece is bigger than yours!”
“Is not! This water is cold!”

*** BTW, speaking of A Little Night Music, keen eared listeners will hear two small instrumental bits from this show playing during this movie.  See if you can find them.

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About The Knitting Cinephile

I'm obsessed with good yarn, bad movies, and the Hubster.
This entry was posted in But It's So Bad It's Good, Mini Movie Review, Snarky with the Cinema and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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