Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014 - INTO THE WOODS, another attempt at a film musical

Here we go again, another shot at making a contemporary musical in a genre that is mostly dead these days.  Into the Woods is based on the Sondheim Broadway musical which was a reworking of classic fairy tales with a modern twist.  Sondheim and his associate James Lapine's big insight in this film is that fairy tales don't always have happy endings.  This is something that I will not be going through life worrying about.

As is the trend with contemporary musicals these days.  The cast is made up of actors who can barely carry a tune.  But the nice thing about a Steve Sondheim song is that they mostly don't worry about tunes it's mostly a lot of rhythmic patter.  Between the non singers and the non songs it's fairly easy to juggle a singing performance out of an actor who is not a professional singer.

The chief exception to this non singer actor stuff is Meryl Streep.  After slaughtering about every ABBA song she got near in Mama Mia.  Streep takes a shot at murdering some of the songs in this film.  Streep tops it off with her very broad performance as the witch.  I know the witch is probably supposed to be a larger than life character but she could at least come off like she wasn't phoning it in.

The basic fact is that there is no longer the talent or resources to make film musicals anymore.  This genre died out with MGM in the 1950's.   That a mediocre film like Into the Woods could get decent reviews and box office show how far the musical genre has fallen.  Still, this isn't the worst thing I have seen.

124 minutes

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