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INTO THE WOODS (review)

Review by Caitlyn Thompson
Produced by Rob Marshall, John DeLuca, 
Marc Platt, Callum McDougall
Screenplay by James Lapine
Based on Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine
Directed by Rob Marshall
Starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, 
Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, 
Christine Baranski, Johnny Depp

This production was perfect to me.

Some musical productions don’t translate well to film but Into the Woods is actually mesmerizing on the big screen.

Centering around a childless baker and his wife, Into the Woods intertwines several familiar fairy tales stories (Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel) as the main characters scramble to find ingredients for a potion that will lift a witch’s curse of infertility. Charming and hilarious we follow each character through mishaps and songs as shenanigans ensue.

Hilarious and witty, the entire cast is lovely and on point.

While every line is sung, the movie is never awkward because of the lack of dialogue. Look at Les Miserables–it was a powerful production, intense and imposing, but there were times when it felt just incorrect on-screen–the singing dialogue was unnatural where it wouldn’t have been in stage.

Some productions should just remain there, on stage. Les Miserables is one. And Rent is another. I won’t even discuss the atrocity of that film adaption.

Into the Woods is rich with stellar performances. Meryl Streep is, as ever, spectacular. Emily Blunt and Anna Kendrick having excellent timing and charm. Chris Pines is hilarious — I didn’t know Captain Kirk had such a sultry voice. Everyone’s enthusiasm is infectious and delightful.

The majestic settings and exuberant story are so incredible and exciting, enthralling even. The camera immerses you into the thick woods, rich with detail and color. And through each adventure we bounce along with wonder and smiles with the story.

Really I could not stop smiling.

I really enjoy musicals, hence my intense compliments of this film–truly it’s a wonderful and visually pleasing movie that should be enjoyed by the whole family. Perhaps not the young ones however, the second half is a bit more mature, even depressing–albeit still surprisingly upbeat. The overall life lessons are appropriate and well-delivered.

Into the Woods emphasizes that “nice is different than good”, illustrating the flaws in fairytale characters and the importance of recognizing reality versus fantasy.

An odd fact considering this show is full of magic.

While I’ve seen it twice already, and have been listening to the soundtrack non-stop, I’ll be making a third trip this Christmas.

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