If the dead are cognizant of what occurs in the land of the living, then somewhere in the Great Beyond, Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm are weeping bitter tears along with Monsieur Charles Perrault. The reason for their sorrow is the travesty of a movie which purports to be based on several of their folk and fairy tales. I am speaking of the train-wreck that is Into the Woods.
The TL;DR version of this movie review is, “that’s two and a half hours of my life and $22 I’ll never get back.”
To go a little more in depth, the movie was oddly reminiscent of fingernails on a chalkboard. If a warden in some American prison happened to force the inmates under his control to view this film, he would be brought up on 8th Amendment violations before the ending credits rolled. If any of the nine SCOTUS judges have seen the movie, the plaintiffs wouldn’t need to go through any appeals process because the offended judge would likely issue an immediate writ of certiorari and declare original jurisdiction over the case. It really is that bad.
First of all, it commits the mortal sin of being a musical on screen. Musicals, with only a handful of exceptions, belong on a stage, not on a screen. Furthermore, if the movie is going to test the snake infested musical movie waters, it should at least have memorable songs eg “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria,” “Memories,” or “Cell Block Tango.” None of the ditties making up the score of Into the Woods is the least bit likely to become an earworm. Of course, what the movie lacks in memorable songs it makes up for in interminably LONG songs — think “Freebird” or better yet “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” For instance, the first number lasted at least twenty minutes. Exposition has no business being sung.
Secondly, the movie itself is entirely too long. I counted at least three good points where they could have rolled the credits and ended the audience’s misery. The film clocks in at 124 minutes running not counting coming attractions and believe me, after the previews, it was all downhill. The last third of the production is an unending series of ham-handed attempts at an M. Night Shymalan style twist ending and I’m talking Lady in the Water, not Sixth Sense.
To make matters worse, I simply could not feel anything for the characters. Whenever I started to develop a tiny bit of genuine connection or sympathy for Cinderella, Jack, or Red Riding Hood, the character in question would burst into one of those godawful songs and whatever goodwill I’d managed to dredge up evaporated “like snow in the glance of the Lord.” Over and over again something would happen that was completely inexplicable. For instance, why would Meryl Streep’s witch burst into the bakery and tell the baker and his barren wife about the curse she placed on the house when the baker was a baby? What’s the point? Is it supposed to be like, “I’m a witch and now I’m going to be a bitch, too?”
Speaking of characters, Johnny Depp needs to fire his agent, get into rehab, or do something else to stem the tide of truly hideous movies he has “starred” in lately. Depp is a fantastic actor when he’s playing a character worth playing such as Captain Jack Sparrow or Edward Scissorhands, but recently, he has managed to sign on to some serious stinkers. I can only imagine he is in some sort of horrible debt and has large, sweaty men in cheap suits threatening to break his kneecaps so he has to take whatever drivel comes along. What else can explain Dark Shadows, The Lone Ranger, and now this groaner? Thankfully though, Depp has little to do in this film. If you remember Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Deep Blue Sea or Steven Segal in Executive Orders, you know what I mean.
Finally, I’ve sat through some terrible movies. Maybe one day I’ll relate my experience with the artsy-fartsy film Prospero’s Books which remains the worst movie I’ve ever seen and I endured it in its entirety, In the case of Into the Woods, however, the only two things which kept me from walking out twenty minutes in and cutting my losses were the facts I was with my extended family whom I love dearly AND Budge had the car keys. Otherwise, I’d have bolted long before the giant showed up.
So, avoid this movie, keep your feet clean, and remember I love y’all!