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IN SHORT: Terrifically entertaining. [Rated PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material. 125 minutes]
Understand that, in general, yours Cranky has no great love for musicals. They were great for meeting girls in school but most of what has hit the Broadway stage has no interest for us. The sole exception is the work carrying the name Stephen Sondheim (and we apologize to his collaborative partner James Levine, for the oversight). Lapine has adapted their musical for the big screen but don't ask us to criticize what may have been excised. We don't compare to the Source Material. So . . . Into The Review:
Unless something has gone radically wrong in the last thirty years, there is not a child nor grown up that knows the stories of "Cinderella," "Red Riding Hood," (created by a 17th century French author named Charles Perrault). A revised "Cinderella" and "Rapunzel" (by the brothers Grimm); and an English folk tale better known as "Jack and the Beanstalk." has origins in the 18th century. Most know the stories from movies. Yours Cranky was assigned a collection of original Grimm stories to read in a college class and, frankly, they were not the stories Cranky's mommy told.
These are the stories collected, adapted and musicalized (sic) for the Broadway stage by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Now they are a film, held together by something new. A story of a Baker and his Wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), childless after many years of trying. They make a deal with the devil next door, a hideous looking witch (Meryl Streep) who, for reasons not involving the couple at all -- almost -- once put a curse on the house to render all that live within childless. The witch, herself, is under a curse blah blah blah and offers to lift the curse on the couple if four tasks are accomplished. They must find for the witch: a cow as white as milk, hair as yellow as corn, a cape as red as blood and a slipper as pure as gold. The couple has three days to accomplish the task for at the end of that third day will come a blue moon under which the spell must be cast.
Yes indeed, Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) and Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) are involved as characters in this quest. So, for that matter, is a wicked Wolf (Johnny Depp); Cinderella's evil stepsisters, Florinda and Lucinda, (Tammy Blanchard and Lucy Punch) and wicked Stepmother (Christine Baranski) and Cinderella's Prince (Chris Pine). The Witch also reveals that she abducted a sister that the Baker never new he had. Her name is Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), who has lived her entire life in a stone tower without doors; believing that the witch is her mother. Wait there's one more . . .
In a run down cottage lives a mother (Tracey Ullman) and her dim witted son Jack (Daniel Huttlestone). Times are tough. Their run down cow won't produce milk so Jack is ordered to bring the cow to market and sell it. Need we say more? Of course we will! In a far off stone tower, ten feet tall with no door lives the lovely Rapunzel. Her singing voice attracts a passing Prince (Billy Magnussen) and, well, you know . . .
They all live happily ever after.
No. They don't. Sondheim and LaPine bring the hammer down and what began as a Broadway musical becomes modern American Opera: rich and poor intermingle at a big party; illicit romances occur; betrayals happen and characters die. Essentially all hell breaks loose. But that leaves a whole 'nother half of the film for you to discover. We're not going to spill any of it.
Into the Woods rocks.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Into the Woods, he would have paid . . .
At end-of-year, all films that make some part of our Best Of Lists get a standard "$9" rating. .You should just go see
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