*SPOILER ALERT! The plot of Disney’s “Into the Woods” will be revealed.
I was hooked from the very first commercial. “Into the Woods” looked like it was going to be simply amazing. And the fact that Chris Pine plays a prince is just the cherry on top.
When I got home from work on Saturday, my husband and I headed out to our favorite movie theater. We were quite surprised to find that there were only about 20 people in attendance. I excitedly snuggled into my seat and waited for the lights to dim.
About 30 minutes into the movie, a strange feeling came over me. I tried to shake it off. But as the movie continued, it only grew stronger….BOREDOM!
Yes, the film that we had been so anxious to see turned out to be an epic fail. I actually had thoughts about walking out, but I wanted to get my $40 worth (including popcorn and soda, of course). In the beginning, the audience is introduced to five main characters: Cinderella, Jack, a witch, Little Red Riding Hood, and a married couple. Rapunzel gets tossed in later on.
The main plot is that of the married couple, a baker and his wife. They have been trying (unsuccessfully) to have a child. One fated day, the witch from next door blows in to tell them that the reason they are barren is because a curse was placed on the baker for the actions of his father. In order to reverse the spell, the couple must collect the following items: a cape as red as blood, a cow as white as snow, a slipper pure as gold and hair as yellow as corn. And this all must be accomplished in three days by midnight.
Though Disney tried to intertwine all of these differing fairy tales, many of the appearances were short lived. Little Red Riding Hood is literally on screen for about 15 minutes….then she is eaten by the wolf. By the way, for all of the hype that Johnny Depp has received about being the wolf, his role was a cameo, at best. When the baker discovers that the wolf has eaten Little Red and her grandma, he immediately cuts the wolf open, saving the day.
We were then made to suffer through a musical montage recapping the scenes leading up to Red being eaten. Next came the horrible song that Red sang as she was falling down the wolf’s throat. The background was a swirling purple vortex that appeared to have glitter in it. Seriously?
Moving on to Cinderella. I was comforted by the fact that Disney seemed to be staying true to the classic version of the fairy tale. However, Cinderella not only leaves the ball once…but three times. She is not bound by any magical spell that would turn her riches to rags at midnight. What plagues her is doubt about whether or not she should stay with the prince. By the second time she ran away, I had already lost interest in her story.
The witch (who is the next door neighbor to the baker) we soon find out, is the one who is pretending to be Rapunzel’s mother. Unlike “Tangled,” her hair does not have any magic powers. It appears that the witch genuinely cares about her “daughter” and seeks nothing more than her company and love.
I will not regale you with Jack’s story. It is literally just “Jack and the Beanstalk.” The only twist is that a second beanstalk ends up growing in which the recently widowed female giant comes down to take revenge on Jack (who killed her husband).
Here are my personal thoughts as to why this movie is absolutely horrible:
1. It was virtually a musical. And I am not talking about a regular musical like “Hello, Dolly,” where there is actually dialogue in between songs. I mean to say that almost every single word was sung. And not always well. I was expecting something more along the lines of a traditional Disney movie where there are four to five great songs dispersed between an actual, plausible storyline. This felt more like an opera. Unfortunately, it was not in a foreign language.
2. Rapunzel’s character really had no relevance. She lent nothing to the main plot other than the fact that she ended up marrying the prince’s brother. She became a princess…and did nothing more.
3. The witch’s final scene made absolutely not sense whatsoever. She sang an awful song called “Last Midnight.” Her dress swirled around her as she asked her dearly departed mother to curse her again. Why? We don’t know. I suppose that the theme is even though she had her youth, she lost her powers and the only thing that she had ever truly cared about: Rapunzel. The witch ends up being swallowed by the ground, leaving a large tar pit in her wake.
4. In the opening scene, we discover that the witch stole the baker’s sister when she was a baby as payment for the father’s stealing. The baker is shocked to find that he has a long lost sister. So, why does he never try to find her or mention her in the movie ever again?
5. While in the woods, the baker’s wife decides that they should split up in order to find Jack. As she searches, she crosses paths with the newly married prince (Chris Pine). His bride is nowhere to be found…and he promptly begins a make-out session with the baker’s wife. He then leaves and she sings a song about wanting to have the baker AND the prince. So….she turns into a hoe after finally giving birth to the child that she and her husband always wanted? And why was the audience never privy to the fact that the prince was a womanizer? He seemed totally devoted to Cinderella. I think that this was very poor scripting.
6. The prince and his brother sing an atrocious song about being in agony over not having the loves of their lives. At first, I had been taking the film seriously. After I saw this number, I began to view the movie as a spoof. Much in the vain of Monty Python. I remained confused throughout the rest of the movie.
7. I also thought that the film was a bit dark for children. I think that the rating should have been PG-13 as many of the stories held true to the original Grimm Brothers version and not the squeaky clean Disney version. Case in point, Cinderella’s evil step mother cut off various parts of her daughters’ feet in order to make the golden slipper fit. Cinderella’s bird friends pecked out her step sisters’ eyes. The witch made a thorny brier patch grow in front of where Rapunzel’s boyfriend was riding and he fell into the thorns, making him blind. Not exactly the feel good story of the year.
8. The ending was abominable. The witch, widowed giant, Jack’s mom and baker’s wife are all dead.
Cinderella will be divorcing the prince. The baker decides that Cinderella, Jack and Little Red Riding Hood can all come and live with him. As he tries to quiet his crying son, an image of his wife appears to him and he begins to tell the whole story that we (unfortunately) had just witnessed. A reprise of one of the witch’s songs plays as the movie fades to black. I literally turned to my husband and said, “What did we just see?”
There were several aspects of the film that I did like. Meryl Streep did a fantastic job in the role as the witch. She can really act and sing. Her costume was very beautiful. James Corden also gave a wonderful performance and to me, was the stand out actor in the movie.
All in all, I don’t know what Disney was thinking when they created this film. I fear that the company may be feeling a bit too comfortable after their huge success with “Frozen.” I hope that they will be able to find their way out of the woods and onto better projects.