Director: Rob Marshall
Writer: James Lapine
Cast: Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep
Studio: Disney

“Into the Woods” was one of those shows that used to divide the drama nerds. The serious drama types thought it was a forced mature take on proper fairy tales. The musical types just liked dressing up as Cinderella and singing. Disney thought they could gut the musical, force a repackage and then dump it out onto the Holiday audience. The use of death hasn’t been removed, but manipulated for lame effect. The music felt out of place and Johnny Depp continued his Disney decline. Naturally, I can’t say that I was a fan of the show.

Adapting a musical to the screen takes a clever hand. Recent offerings have handled the change pretty well, so we were due for a misstep. James Lapine wrote the original show and I feel that he was pressured too much into making changes. People don’t realize that the film was initially planned as Rob Reiner’s follow-up to “The Princess Bride”. The Baker couple were supposed to be Goldie Hawn and Robin Williams, just to give you a taste of how long this project has been gestating. So much talent had been involved with the film leading up to now. However, very few people stuck with the material for long. That’s a shame, as I feel that something was lost in waiting so long to cut a definitive film take.

Disney should be applauded for trying this out after several decades of planning. It’s just that if so much is riding on the film, I’d go for a better creative team. Rob Marshall was great back in the 2002-2005 era. However, time is a cruel mistress and it has revealed that he’s a lower edge creator who needs the help of the Weinsteins rather than the Mouse House. Who could’ve done better? I’m not terribly sure, but they would’ve created a movie with personality that could stand on its own during the Holidays. Sadly, this Christmas is going to belong to Hobbits, Ben Stiller and Kim Jong Un…if you’re near an indie theater chain.

RELEASE DATE: 12/25/2014

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