Into the Woods suffers from serious cases of a) the cutes; b) the dull production design; c) the egregious casting; and d) the sloppy direction. Let’s take the last part first. Is there a reason we can’t see the giant? It’s not like we’re going to reveal a famous person playing her. Budget problems? Otherwise it seems needlessly coy.

 

Casting: Johnny Depp as the wolf? Snore. Those two child actors? The boy doing the street-urchin thing? The girl doing the Hailee-Steinfeld-in-True Grit-thing but without the charm or nuance?

 

Regarding production design, if you’re shooting the entire movie in the woods (or on sets made to look like the woods), shouldn’t someone make an effort to not make it distractingly dull looking? And back to directing, what’s with obscuring the actors’ faces?

 

Forgot about e) the photography—that’s some dreary camera work. How many different ways can one shoot trees? (In this movie, apparently two.)

 

As for the cutes, does director Rob Marshall not know that Into the Woods is a send-up and deconstruction of fairy tales (albeit a loving one)? So what’s with the earnestness of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) and Rapunzel? And the uneven tone overall?

 

That said—or questioned—there are three good things about Into the Woods. First, Chris Pine gives, possibly, the best supporting actor performance of the year as Cinderella’s Prince. (Finally, he channels Shatner!) Second, Meryl Streep is nothing short of wonderful—no surprise there. Third, it all eventually ends.

 

INTO THE WOODS

Directed by Rob Marshall

With Streep, Pine and Emily Blunt

Regal Stadium 14

PG
126 min.