Into the Woods: A Very Short Review

by Brenda W. Clough

ITWThis is a show, and a movie, about what we want. Do you really know what you’re wishing for? If and when you get it, will it pan out? Or will you discover that what you wanted was an illusion, something that you didn’t really want after all? And if that happens, how do you live with it?

All very mature questions, which makes this movie an unusual Disney movie indeed. Good Heavens, Walt, are you guys growing up over there? What happened to Cinderella assuring us that a dream is a wish your heart makes? But all the difficulties with the stage show are here on the big screen, without raw theatrical power to obscure them. (There has always been a problem with those giants, a deus ex machina that one has the sneaky feeling the had to resort to to get the plot moving.) So this movie is one of those valiant tries that is not quite successful.

Nevertheless this movie is well worth seeing. Visually it is a treat — the settings, the costumes. The score is, and shall ever be, delightful — better than the script. It is worth the price of admission alone to see “Agony,” as the two Princes rip open their shirts and try to out-angst each other. The film does reasonable justice to the Sondheim musical, but the unlucky composer has never been served well by the big screen. We have not yet seen the perfect Sondheim movie musical. My pick would be Follies. Because it would be such a titanic leap to the screen that the adapters would have to really bring something big to the table. Also you can hardly ever fail with showgirls. This would fit in great with Disney’s new Realistic Human Relationships marketing direction. Enchanted and Frozen put paid to the love at first sight some day my prince will come thing, and Into the Woods takes out the dreams come true happily ever after nonsense. Follies would move them on to the frustrations of aging and bad life choices. I don’t see how it could miss.

The ebook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe. And it is available now in an audio book edition which is read by Bronson Pinchot!

How Like a God, by Brenda W. CloughMy newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.

I also have stories in Book View Café’s two steampunk anthologies, The Shadow Conspiracy and The Shadow Conspiracy II, as well as in BVC’s many other anthologies, including our latest, Beyond Grimm.

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About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.

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Into the Woods: A Very Short Review — 2 Comments

  1. I think I liked it better than you did (I thought Emily Blunt and James Corden, in particular, was wonderful, and I really liked that Johnny Depp got in and got out…too much Johnny Depp would not have been good).

    I got to see the director in a post-screening Q&A–apparently many of the cuts to the original show were not just approved, but suggested by Sondheim and Lapine (according to Rob Marshall, he kept saying “but that bit? I like that bit!” and Sondheim kept shrugging and saying “nah, it can go.”

  2. No, I am done with Johnny Depp in movie musicals. (He was really disappointing in SWEENEY TODD.) I loved Emily Blunt! And wasn’t Meryl Streep perfect? No, it was as good as we are going to get, for INTO THE WOODS. But I want more, better!