Into the Woods (2014)

(On Cable TV, August 2015)  I honestly thought I’d enjoy Into the Woods a lot more than I did.  Having a pre-schooler running around the house means watching a lot of Disney films, so the thought of a musical parodying classic fairy-tales has a certain appeal to it if only as a change of pace.  To be fair, Into the Woods does have its good moments.  Princes dueling for attention while signing dramatically; Anna Kendrick with a singing role; Meryl Streep playing a demented witch; clever twists and turns of plot –especially in the first section of the film.  But then comes the second section of the film, which seems determined to frustrate even viewers hungry for parody – the tone turns far darker, the musical number get less interesting, heroes are revealed to be villains and the film sort of degenerates into a mush of unsatisfying endings.  Cue my flagging appreciation.  And that’s not mentioning the various missteps along the way, not the least of them being Johnny Depp showing up as a lecherous big bad wolf.  But much of the so-called flaws of the film are intentional, and so is its intention to frustrate those looking for more conventional fare.  The bigger surprise here is to realize that Into the Woods is a Disney production tweaking the nose of fairy tales closely associate with Disney itself.  I suppose that, given Disney’s recent willingness to remake even its animated classics into live-action films, that an affectionate tweak on those same classics wouldn’t be out of place. 

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