INTO THE WOODS (2014)
You know, it’s somewhat fitting that the tagline for this movie is “Be careful what you wish for” because people have been waiting for an Into the Woods movie for years now. And guess what? It sucked enough to earn the final spot in my year of the 52 worst live action Disney movies. Oh, and since it’s a musical, Bill also spent some “quality time” with this film this year.
All the fairy tales you know and love are brought to the big screen with a darkish twist. Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) does her whole ball thing, but her prince (Chris Pine) is a skeezy asshole.
He wants to show her his captain’s log.
Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) gets eaten by the wolf (Johnny Depp), but this time it’s sexual.
He wants to show her his wolf penis.
Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) climbs a beanstalk and… nothing different happens really?
He wants to show you his giant beanstalk (but that’s not an innuendo).
Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) is also in this movie.
Then there’s a new fairy tale that the movie actually centers around. A baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) are unable to have any kids. This is because they stole some beans belonging to Meryl Streep (a witch).
She agrees to reverse the curse if they gather a bunch of dumb shit for her and feed it to a cow.
This cow eating a shoe is the best moment of the film!
Feeding the stuff to the cow turns Meryl Streep into a less witchy version of herself, but takes away her magic powers. Also, a big lady giant comes and kills several people. Everyone is pretty shaken up about it, but they all agree that it’s pretty hard being a parent.
You know that one scene in Into the Woods where [insert anything] happens? It’s about sex, or parents. I feel bad even writing about this, because the film’s whole deal is that it’s cheekily displaying the subtext of various fairy tales. If subtext were a penis, Into the Woods would be arrested for constantly whipping it out.
Instead it got nominated for three Oscars.
See, that scene where Little Red Riding Hood is tempted by the wolf isn’t actually about the wolf wanting to eat her. It is about sex. You might not be able to tell from Johnny Depp’s subtle performance, but it is totally about sex. One clue that it is about sex is all the sexual lyrics. Another might be the fact that instead of looking like a wolf, the wolf looks like a pedophile.
Fun fact: Wolves are not known for their creepy jackets full of sweets.
Other scenes about sex include Jack’s encounter with a lady giant (he sings about her giant boobs) and pretty much anything with the princes.
It’s funny that this is the movie where Kirk tears his shirt open.
And everything else is about parents. Baker and wife want to be parents, but don’t think they’ll be good at it. They can’t have children, because of one of their parents. The Witch is a parent, but isn’t very good at it. Jack hates his mom. Riding Hood has absent parents (leading to sex!). Cinderella prays to her mom who’s in a tree. Blah blah blah. I’m done. If you can’t suss this out for yourself, go ask a freshman theatre major, they’ll be all too happy to tell you about it.
WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE IT?:
There are so many possible answers to this question that I don’t even know where to start, but I think one of the largest problems is the film’s tone. The musical explores a number of fairy tales in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner, but throughout the film it seems as though the characters are in on the joke. This is a problem, because if the players in the story aren’t invested in their own stories, why should the audience care?
“The fuck is this shit?” they constantly seem to be thinking.
Also, the darkness is a little too… obvious? As I mentioned before, the movie wears its subtext on its sleeve. And a lot of that was present in the stage play. But the thing is, I always felt like everything in the musical was kind of light and cheery with really creepy lyrics giving it a wry twist. Here you know the wolf or the prince (traditionally played by the same actor to great effect) are creepers before they even open their mouths. The lyrics take a back seat to the visuals, and since all of Sondheim’s charm is in his lyrics, that’s a bit of a problem.
There was also too much singing about beans. What are you going to do?
MOST REGRETTABLE MOMENT:
When the Witch’s infertility curse is lifted from the baker’s family, his wife suddenly balloons with pregnancy.
This did not occur in the stage version, she just got pregnant the old-fashioned way over the year that passes during intermission. So why the change? Either Disney decided that the implication of the baker having marital relations with his wife off-screen was too inappropriate (which would be odd, considering the film also contains a child-raping wolf) or they just didn’t want to bother with a time jump and this was the only solution they could come up with on short notice (which would be insultingly lazy). Either way, this is needlessly disturbing. Is it the Baker’s bun in there, or is this the Witch’s baby? Did the baker’s wife suffer any extreme physical or mental trauma jumping from 0 to 9 months pregnant in a couple seconds? I just don’t know.
I’m afraid that I really haven’t done this movie justice. There are too many shitty elements to talk about, and I feel like I haven’t delved into enough of them. The bottom line is this movie is unbearable. It manages to be ridiculous, off-putting, and boring all at once—not an easy task. I cannot even remotely consider recommending it. Go listen to the original Broadway recording if you’ve got a Sondheim hankering. If not, just stay away.
Nothing. I’ve finished reviewing the worst 52 live action Disney movies. I am now out of the woods. Zing! Going out on a shitty pun!