Barking Up the Right Tree

Barking Up the Right Tree

When looking for a movie to watch I stumbled across Into the Woods. My partner straight away said it was an awful movie with awful singing and not to bother with it, but I thought it looked brilliant. See, I love action and comedy films, but I have a horrible secret; I love musicals.

Into the Woods is a mash-up of four different famous fairy tales with an added twist. Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Rapunzel  are all sub plots which relate to the main plot about the baker (James Corden) and his wife, (Emily Blunt) who desperately want a child. However, their house is cursed by an evil witch (Meryl Streep) and the couple cannot conceive unless they retrieve an item from each of the four fairy tales listed above, all of which are iconic items. Can you guess what items they might be? So the structure of the storyline takes on a hinged approach interweaving these fantastic fairy tales subtly but interestingly while creating a new fairy tale.

I found that the movie created an amazing universe which is believable and immersive. Each of the fairy tales have been adapted into the plot flawlessly and nothing jars. At no point did I think “nope, that wouldn’t happen.” Fairy tales are somewhat farcical and so the genre itself does allow suspension of willing disbelief to some extent but it is the tiny little details intertwined in the plot which help us enjoy the story rather than question it. A good example of this is because Cinderella’s step mother and step sisters are a part of the royal family they are invited to the fancy parties. As this is explained early on we don’t have to ask the question, if there is a massive ball going on then why are none of the other characters invited?

Which brings me onto musicals because it is the songs and singing in Into the Woods which help set up this fairy tale universe. The musical themes help define the fairy tale setting which in turn makes this universe believable… I’m sorry, but I can’t go on without expressing my undying love for musicals. I really don’t understand how somebody could not like them, what with all the catchy tunes, upbeat music and memorable scenes. Man I love them. Do you want to know what my favourite musical is? Grease. I do love Grease. I know, I should talk about Grease… No, I can’t talk about Grease, it is totally irrelevant to Into the Woods.

(Liam takes five minutes out to pull himself back together after dancing and falling over.) 

Since Disney started making fairy tale animations with songs, like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella the idea of fairy tales having songs and music has become the norm. Now we always expect a fairy tale to have at least one tune in it. The idea of a fairy tale story having songs and dancing reinforces the world which has been created.

Admittedly, Into the Woods does suffer from “the first bit of the movie was fantastic and the second half lagged” syndrome. What made the first part of the movie was the humour James Corden seems to be able to pull off, even in the serious situations. A good example of this is the whole cow situation. Dead cows can be funny too! (Ermm, ok, you really need to watch it to understand, but it’s funny I promise.) Even Meryl Streep causes a few chuckles. Sadly some of this humour disappears in the second half (and although I thought the movie was amazing) if I had to choose my least favourite part, it would be the second half of the movie. The main plot dilemma is solved mid way through and everything is tied up nicely making it feel like the ending. Why could they have not ended the movie there instead of adding in an extra crisis out of the blue, purely to complete the classic movie structure. Sadly, it really ruined it for me.

But overall it is a fantastic movie and an even better musical. Songs can make or break any movie, but Into the Woods managed to pull it off with no issues whatsoever. If it ever came near me as a stage show I would jump at the opportunity to see it. What stuck out the most to me, or shall I say who, was Johnny Depp’s character. He plays a very minor role but the fact that he had such a massive impact on the film says a lot. I would urge everyone to see it as it is the perfect avenue for escapism. You don’t just feel a part of the story, you WANT to be a part of it.

I award this movie the same amount of stars as iconic fairy tale items.

I give this movie four stars out of five.


Written by Liam Gore

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