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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Into the Woods (movie)

Before the movie came out, Sondheim fans were worried that Disney would pour syrup all over the original musical and fuck it up. After the movie came out the complaints seemed to die down, but I still think the movie has been sugarized and messed up.

Let's not kid ourselves. The marketing campaign for the movie gave it away. The movie was marketed as a "family film" and it is adapted in that way. People who had never seen the original musical or the video of the original musical or who didn't know Sondheim from Speilberg took their kids to see the film. How could they possibly be given the musical in its original way as intended by Sondheim and Lapine?

Case in point is how the Wolf is kept --- but not really --- in the movie. The sexually suggestive song he sings to the Little Red Riding Hood ("Hello Little Girl") is quickly gotten out of the way in a blur. Not to mention the costume ... Awkward ...

And the movie does nothing for one of the main themes of the musical: parent-child relationships. No one would come out of the movie with any enlightenment or insight about this. What a waste. Into the Woods was, in some ways, Sondheim's psychological processing of his troubled relationships with a narcissistic mother and a father who escaped to save himself and left his son to drown. Damned if you got any of that from the movie.

The most important song in the musical is "No One is Alone." In the movie, the setup for the song gives you a fraction of its meaning and emotional depth. Everything is dumbed down and dashed off, as if afraid the audience would actually think about the lyrics and messages and meaning, and feel slightly disturbed.

One critic observed that the tempo of the songs in the movie is too slow. I think the reason is that most of the actors couldn't sing them properly. Movie actors are shit at singing, especially such difficult songs. The much revered great Meryl Streep was pretty shit at playing the witch too. Bernadette Peters can destroy her performance with a few verses.

This is why I prefer the stage to movies. 

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