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Friday, December 26, 2014

Into The Woods (2014)

In a small kingdom, a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) are childless, a young girl (Anna Kendrick) is treated as a servant by her cruel stepmother (Christine Baranski) and stepsisters (Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch), a boy (Daniel Huttlestone) sells the family cow for a handful of "magic" beans, a girl (Mackenzie Mauzy) with long blonde hair lives in a tower and a precocious girl (Lilla Crawford) in a red riding hood sets out to visit her grandmother (Annette Crosbie). Meanwhile a witch (Meryl Streep) promises to remove the curse of being childless for the baker and his wife if they go into the woods and obtain for her: a cape as red as blood, a cow as white as milk, a golden slipper and hair as yellow as corn. After the film's opening number Into The Woods, I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew then the film was in good hands and that everything would be okay. I was a bit nervous about the director Rob Marshall whose rat-a-tat-tat style seemed wrong for the project but I needn't have worried. Stephen Sondheim's superb darkly inventive adult fairy tale musical has reached the screen as a real movie, not a filmed adaptation of a stage play and even the purists should be pleased. Whatever "faults" the film may have are inherent in the original play's book by James Lapine (who adapted his own work for the screen). Among the highlights: the clever staging of the Agony duet with Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen and the sock-it-to-'em Last Midnight by Streep. Also in the cast: Johnny Depp as the wolf and Tracey Ullman as Jack's mother.

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