I’ve never seen Into the Woods on stage. I was lucky enough to see a PBS broadcast of it many, many years ago, and liked it quite a bit. So I was very much looking forward to this movie. Did it deliver?
Well, sort of. The first two acts, wherein our heroes meet up, deliver goodies to grandma, climb beanstalks, and deal with a wicked witch, are quite great. The songs are wonderful, and the casting is excellent. The story is light and enjoyable and flows along at a good pace.
Then comes the third act.
If you’ve seen the musical you know about what happens after “happily ever after”. Now I have no problem with dark and Grimm (as it were), and I’m ok with the concept of the movie darkening up quite a bit. I’m sure it works out wonderfully on the stage.
But this version of it, at least, draaaaagged. The pacing was terrible, and the third act just went on and on and on. It was also quite a bit lighter than the stage version of the third act, and that is not to its benefit. It’s very much like Disney wanted to have their cake and eat it, too, and instead we just get something vaguely warmed-over and not that appealing.
I will say the movie is great for those first two acts, and if you leave at the right point, you’ll probably leave happy. Of course doing so means you’ve basically seen the children’s version, but frankly, that’s better than staying for the last part.