From Broadway to the big screen is a pretty good route to take lately. With plays like “Chicago”, “Les Miserables”, and “West Side Story” becoming hits, Hollywood has found a new mine to find gold. With every piece found though, you find things that are not so shiny, films like “Jersey Boys” and “Rock of Ages”, but over all it seems finding success is a little more common than delivering a dud. The next play to throw its hat into the ring is “Into The Woods” a musical that explores just how “Grimm” a fairytale can be.
It is a pretty simple idea; what if all your favorite characters from fairytale land all inhabited the same world, and they all sing. Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) slaves for her evil stepmother (Christine Baranski) and her stepsisters as they do all they can to prevent her from going to the King’s Ball. Lucky for Cinderella she can talk to birds, who help her complete the chores she needs to do before she can go. Meanwhile The Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) want nothing more than to have a child, and when a witch (Meryl Streep) offers them a way to make that happen, The Baker must collect four items, A cow white as snow, a gold slipper, a red cloak, and hair the color of corn. So over the hill and through the woods The Baker goes, along the way helping Little Red Riding Hood (Lila Crawford) escape The Wolf (Johnny Depp) and giving Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) some magic beans for his cow that is as white as snow. Things don’t go as planned and get a little crazy, we even get to see two Princes singing on top of a waterfall about who is better. With all that going on, it makes you wonder if fairytales really do have an ending let alone a happy one.
I think most Broadway plays have the chance to make a pretty good movie. While I don’t know why some succeed where others fail, since they all have things in common, well at least singing. “Into The Woods” is a mess, with so many stories overlapping and some of the musical numbers just plain bad; it is hard to get through. I have enjoyed most adaptations and with a cast like this film has, and directed by Rob Marshall, what could go wrong? It seems just enough to make “Into The Woods” about as fun as finding a big bad wolf in the bed your grandmother used to occupy. Blunt, Steep, and Kendrick do their best to raise above the material, Chris Pine lives down to the material and makes you wish he was stepped on by one of those giants that come down the beanstalk. I wish I could have gotten through this, and while I realize that there is an audience out there for this film, this audience of one did not have my happy ending with this film.