Potential lost in the dark woods
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.