Po­ten­tial lost in the dark woods

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Film -

BIG stars, mu­sic, singing, danc­ing and a twist on beloved fairy­tales fail to bring much joy in the lat­est big-screen mu­si­cal adap­ta­tion Into The Woods.

A child­less cou­ple – Baker (James Cor­den) and Baker’s wife (Emily Blunt) – must col­lect five items for a witch (Meryl Streep) so that a curse can be lifted and they can fi­nally have a fam­ily.

Dur­ing their search, they cross paths with a bas­ket-bear­ing, car­bload­ing Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood ( Lilla Craw­ford) on her way to grandma’s house, mis­chievous Jack (Daniel Hut­tle­stone) who sells his cow for a hand­ful of mag­i­cal beans and down­trod­den Cin­derella (Anna Ken­drick) who is al­ways run­ning away from the charm­ing prince (Chris Pine).

All th­ese sto­ries in­ter­twine in the dreaded woods.

There is a clever nar­ra­tive go­ing on here that re­calls Shrek- like in­jokes for adults, but di­rec­tor Rob Mar­shall doesn’t seem con­fi­dent in bring­ing it from stage to screen.

The flow be­tween sub-plots is as dis­ori­ent­ing as the dimly lit and tree-filled set­ting, char­ac­ters drop in and out seem­ingly on a whim and the tone feels off, with an at­tempt made to make th­ese chil­dren’s sto­ries in­ter­est­ing for adults, but not tak­ing things far enough.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing the dark­ness in th­ese fairy­tales is clever (some are nasty and vi­o­lent when you think about them), it seems like a missed op­por­tu­nity to have some fun with the ma­te­rial.

Pine is a hoot, giv­ing his charm­ing prince a sleazy twist.

The mu­si­cal num­bers range from great to just OK, as do the per­for­mances – Streep is pre­dictably over the top, but Ken­drick and Blunt merely ser­vice­able.

Daniel Hut­tle­stone and Meryl Streep in Into The Woods.

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