I've seen a lot of Disney musicals in my time, and they're all a little campy and corny; but in a way that's expected and almost embraced! People love Disney films because they're quirky, cute and bring the child out in all of us! Unfortunately for Into the Woods, a film adaption of the Tony award winning Broadway musical of the same name, it doesn't do that for me. Instead, it almost feels like it's making fun of the child within me.
Let me explain in more detail before you start looking at me like an idiot. Or you could still, either way I'm going to explain myself. Into the Woods is a musical fantasy film, centering on a group of Brothers Grimm fairy tale characters with a message of "be careful what you wish for". The characters star along with three original characters. The Witch, who is your typical evil witch, casting curses and locking princesses in towers. And the Baker and his Wife, who wish to have a child. The story, being a musical. is filled with tons of songs. But only a handful of them actually merit as good songs. Most of them are really only just talking...but with a sort of annoying singy song tone. It starts off with the Baker and his Wife trying to create a potion for the Witch to get rid of a curse put on their house, by the same Witch.
They need to get (if I remember correctly) A cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold. How do I remember those so well? Maybe it's my great memory, maybe it's because they said it about hundred and forty-seven times in the film.
The red cape of course belonged to Red Riding Hood, who was on her well-known journey to Granny's house. On her way, she meets the Big Bad Wolf, but with a twist. This time it's Johnny Depp! Wearing something from the "Disney ran out of budget for this one" collection.
Speaking of the Big Bad Wolf. Maybe it's because I'm always looking for hidden meanings within films, or maybe it's because I like to take ordinary things and blow them completely out of proportion. But there's something about Johnny's portrayal of the mean wolf that's very...pedophile-ish.
Using terms like "plump, delicious, and fresh" to describe a little girl, all the while making strange sounds with your mouth and staring at her like a wild animal (no pun intended) is probably not the best way to go about things. I won't go into it a lot here, but just watch the film and you'll understand what I mean when I say there's quite a bit of sexual innuendo between these two characters.
Back to the film though. Like I said I feel as if it was trying to make fun of old Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes. For at times it was clearly making jokes of how people act in those types of old films. But then there are times when the movie feels like a real authentic fairy tale in its own right. Making it a bit confusing and causing it to fail at parodying classic musicals, and succeed in making fun of itself. The characters were also a bit, predictable. Red Riding Hood is unaware to the troubles of the real world, Jack is a carefree and foolish young lad and Cinderella has loyalty issues when it comes to relationships. Not to mention she loves to play games with princes who easily forget faces.
The only characters I liked in the film were these guys:
The Baker and his Wife, played by James Corden and the talented Emily Blunt! These guys were actually really funny, and felt like those characters who could really connect with the audience because in a way they themselves are the audience. Get what I mean? Anyway, these guys are awesome. Atleast they were, until the movie takes a surprisingly dark turn. One where, after having a romantic moment with the Prince, played by Chris Pine, the Wife suddenly dies; falling to the bottom of a cliff where she is found by Jack. Let this be a lesson people, DO NOT cheat on your significant others with Chris Pine! Lest you wish to have an unfortunate turn of events.
Which brings me to the message of this movie; it's supposed to be "be careful what you wish for". But to me it doesn't sound like they wished for anything particularly bad. The Baker and his Wife only wanted to start a family, and in return they got a boy but the Wife died a horrible death after trusting an obviously evil Witch. Red only wished to see her Granny in the woods, and in return she was left without her mother or her Granny all because she trusted an obviously evil stranger. Cinderella only wanted to be away from her horrid step-family, and got married to a Prince who would later be unfaithful to her. And Jack only wanted enough food and money to support him and his mother, but got greedy and lost his dear old mother. Who by the way died in a rather unusual way. I mean, she was pushed to the ground, I've been pushed to the ground before but I got up just fine. But then again I'm not an old lady...
The message of the story shouldn't be "be careful what you wish for". It should be "be careful how you go about fulfilling your wishes". It's a bit misleading otherwise. That being said, Into the Woods is a fun film. I don't think it was meant to be some sort of grand expose of a film, it was just meant to be watched during the holidays with the family. It's got a great cast, including Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt and Anna Kendrick and it's a fun little film for all ages! At times it may seem strange, and its second act gets very dark VERY fast; but if you can look past that you'll find a film worth talking about. I recommend you go see this film on or around Christmas with the family so that you all can experience that familiar feeling of joy!