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Brave-Heart

"INTO THE WOODS"--FILM REVIEW

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On December 25, 2002, I went to see the movie musical “Chicago” and during the two weeks after that I went back to see it 4 times. On December 25, 2006, I went to see the movie musical “Dreamgirls”, fell in love with Jennifer Hudson and the movie, went back to see it 6 times and bought the DVD. In 2009, on December 25, I went to see the movie musical “Nine” and have never seen it again. In 2012, December 25, I went to the opening of the movie musical “Les Miserables” and returned to see it 4-5 times and watched it on HBO a couple of times. Today I went to the opening of the movie musical “Into The Woods” and won’t be seeing it again.
I came to the movie with some prejudices including not being a fan of Meryl Streep which I know is sacrilegious to the world of acting but I always seem to feel and I can see, she is ‘acting’. She does sing her numbers well but her last big number just lays there.
My other prejudice is that though I love and think Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics are genius I don’t feel that most of the shows his music has been in are worthy of his songs. In most cases the books, including this one, by James Lapine, have not been up to the task.
For those who don’t know about the movie it is old, known fairy tales most without the happy ending we know. There is the baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), Jack and his magic beans (Daniel Huttlestone), his mother (Tracy Ullman), Cinderella (Ann Anna Kendrick), her stepmother (Christine Baranski) the two stepsisters (Tammy Blanchard and Lucy Punch) her Prince Charming (Chris Pine) and his brother (Billy Magnussen). There is Red Riding (Lilla Crawford), the big bad wolf (Johnny Depp), Rapunzel (MacKenzie) and a Lady Giant (Frances de la Tour).
Depp’s appearance is a cameo and sort of salacious. Ullman is spot on and should have given more to do while Emily Blount, James Corden are standouts and Chris Pine gets the funniest line in the movie which I let you discover for yourself.
The production values are all first rate and Rob Marshall direction isn’t as frantic as it has been in previous movies. Those familiar with the stage version will walk out humming a couple of the songs while those new to the score will know the title tune by the time they walk out.
I don’t feel it is a film for kids because of the change in the paths of the fairy tales and I only can recommend it to adults familiar with the stage version and/or Stephen Sondheim fans such as me.



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