Here is what I knew about Into the Woods before I went to see it:
- It was a musical about fairy tales, specifically a funny musical.
- I’d heard one song from it.
That was pretty much it. I hadn’t seen a trailer, hadn’t paid much attention to casting, and hadn’t seen anything else from the original musical. It was just the only thing showing at that particular theater that I thought my mother and I would both enjoy, so we got tickets.
I think fans of the musical will probably enjoy it more than I did, because while I really loved the first part of the movie, the ending kind of left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Into the Woods opens with a number of different fairy tale characters—Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (of Jack & the Beanstalk), and a baker—all heading into the woods that neighbors their little village, all for different reasons. Cinderella desperately wants to go to the ball at the palace, Red is going to visit her grandmother, Jack is going to the next village to sell his cow, and the baker is looking to break the curse on his house that’s keeping him and his wife from starting a family.
However, they all should be a little more careful about what they wish for, and that’s what they’ll learn in the woods…
The casting is excellent all the way around. Meryl Streep was perfect as the witch (her introductory song is amazing and hilarious), I absolutely adored Emily Blunt and James Corden as the baker and his wife, and Chris Pine was kind of perfect as Prince Charming.
I loved all the singing and the songs, and really enjoyed the costuming and makeup as well. In terms of production quality, the movie was pretty close to flawless. They did an excellent job of weaving the fairy tales together, so that there are still several distinct stories, but they all intersect in important ways.
I didn’t stop laughing for the entirety of the song “Agony,” a duet between the two princes competing about who has it worse: the one who’s in love with Cinderella or the one who’s in love with Rapunzel. Honestly, it was worth the price of admission just for that scene alone. It is perfect. (This gifset doesn’t even begin to do it justice.)
It did feel like Rapunzel’s story had been cut a little short, or at least, there wasn’t quite as much screen time devoted to it. I don’t know if it was like that in the play or not, but I really wish her stuff had been fleshed out a little more.
So what happened to leave me ambivalent regarding the ending? Well, first off, it looked like everything had wrapped up, and then there was a “suddenly, X!” moment that started an entirely new part of the movie, which had a vastly different tone than the first half. I was already starting to feel the length of the movie by that time, so unexpectedly seeing another 30 minutes get tacked on really wasn’t what I was looking for at the time.
What really irritated me, though, was what they did to one character in particular. There are MAJOR spoilers (regarding a character’s death), so highlight to read:
So I was really, really pissed when the baker’s wife was killed off near the end of the movie for a couple of reasons.
One, she died pretty much solely to further the baker’s character arc. He has his dark moment after finding out his wife’s dead, saying that she was the one who held everything together and he can’t be a father without her and blah blah blah so forth and so on.
Two, it was right after she’d been forcibly kissed by the prince. You could almost argue that her being killed was “punishment” for being kissed by someone not her husband. That entire scene made me so uncomfortable and was so out of character for her that I kept thinking it was going to be some kind of trick of the woods or something.
It’s really frustrating because, like I said, she was one of my favorite characters in the movie. She was practical and brave and flawed, and I absolutely didn’t believe it when she died. I thought they were going to find some way to bring her back to life, but no. And the fact that she was killed off just to add something to her husband’s arc? Really rubbed me the wrong way.
So yeah. The movie was excellent and I had a blast, up until the complete tonal shift. Those who are coming to the movie from seeing the play will enjoy it a lot more, I think, knowing what to expect. But the end really threw me for a loop, and just soured the entire experience.