“The way is clear, The light is good, I have no fear, Nor no one should. The woods are just trees, The trees are just wood, No need to be afraid there. Into the woods without delay, But careful not to lose the way, Into the woods, Who knows what may Be lurking on the journey?”
So to you I say, into the woods…
Okay, so I know not everyone is a musical junkie like me or my fellow podcast hosts. And let me be frank, I dare not propose that even I am as much of a musical junkie as say Ryan or Watson. But – I have seen my fair share of musicals, and I propose to you that I am no expert, but do have an opinion to share.
Now, I cannot claim to have seen this on the original broadway stage. Nor can I claim to have seen this on any stage. I saw Into The Woods at the theater, and just the other day nonetheless. So my theater experience of Into The Woods is just this one experience as well – I can only compare it to other musicals, honestly, much different from this.
And finally, I don’t have any excuse as to why it took me so long to see Disney’s Into The Woods. Call it short-sighted, call it laziness, call it lack of respect for Disney doing another damn musical. But regardless of the reasons that kept me away for so long, I am glad I finally saw it. I only wish…. I wish….. I wish I had seen it sooner.
So now that my disclaimer is out of the way – Here is my rating: 10 out of 10 Magic Beans.
What is charming about this movie, musical, “experience” (call it whatever you want), is that there are surprises around every corner of the story. From the way that the actresses and actors interact, to the poignant and scintillating voices that belt out ballad after ballad. I expected to hear each scene sung to a pleasing melody, but then I was stunned when the realization slapped me in the face that this “melody” interlocks and weaves its way through each character’s story. The melody not only connects the stories together, but also the prologue, interlude, and finale. I’ve never seen a melody do that before. I’m used to songs being singular, and separated from one melody to the next. I’m not used to some sweeping experience that transforms the characters along the way taking you with them until you too are changed. From start to finish you are whisked away into their “woods” whether you knew it or not.
You may wonder if the performances matter, since this is a sung story. Yes, the performances matter. You’d expect that each cast member should have some type of singing ability. But who knew how far and vast these talents were going to go. I already knew Anna Kendrick had some pipes, after seeing her in Pitch Perfect. But what I didn’t know is how wonderful Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, James Corden, and Chris Pine could sing. We’ve seen actresses/actors take up singing roles within movies before; take for example Les Miserables, Chicago, Mama Mia, etc. And in such movies you have some of the cast members that run away with the show, and others that fall into the background. In this case, the main cast of characters all have their shining moment. And it’s not like they just have one moment, the cast within this movie was stunning. Without giving too much away, Meryl blew me away. I was in awe of her range, depth, and ability to pull me into her world. Shame on me for not knowing this about Meryl before, but now I do. My only criticism is against Johnny Depp as the Wolf. I wasn’t impressed with this performance, but it didn’t matter in the end since the rest of the cast was so unbelievable.
Is this movie laced with a fairytale? It is. As you would expect. But, is the story so laced in old Disney tropes that you are bored because you know what’s coming next? Absolutely not. And this is what solidified this musical as an “experience” for me. You see, I thought I knew what was going to happen in the story, but I was always wrong. There is a theme throughout the story that you pick up right away, but you don’t know how or if that plot line will get resolved. And when things start to unfold, and sometimes it unfolds in a very dark way, you realize that you’ve not seen this fairytale before, it’s something new, and something you’re okay retelling others in your own way.
So to sum it up (and honestly, to stop babbling on) I implore you to give this movie a chance. Remember the buzz around Anne Hathaway in Les Mis? (This beats that). Remember the critics applause for Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago? (Child’s play in comparison). Now take some of the hottest actresses/actors in hollywood, add an ingenious script, more than exceptional talent, and a budget that only Disney could provide, and you’ve got the phenomenon that is Into The Woods.
“Into the woods to get the thing that makes it worth the journeying. Into the woods – Into the woods – Into the woods, then out of the woods before it’s dark!”