Into the Woods (Movie, 2014)

Into the Woods (2014) movie poster from IMDB. Links to IMDB page.
Into the Woods (2014) movie poster from IMDB

Just finished* watching the movie Into the Woods and I thought I’d write something about the experience. I have long thought that it would be fun to write some thoughts on movies and other things I experience but so far haven’t gotten started. So why not start here.
All in all I found the movie surprising. First surprise was that Netflix thought we would consider it a 2-star movie. In Netflix world a two star grade simply means “Didn’t like it”. I found this surprising considering it was a Disney movie jam packed with well known faces such as Meryl Streep, James Cordon, Chris Pine, Emelie Blunt, and – future Miss Squirrel Girl – Anna Kendrick. I have yet to see any movie with any of these actresses and actors I haven’t enjoyed. Chris Pine and the reboot of the Star Trek universe is a longer thought for another day. Oh, yes. Johnny Depp was in it too. Anyway. A two star review felt a bit surprising but undeterred I suggested we watch it anyway. An important side note here is that I most often watch movies at home with my girlfriend. She enjoys many of the fantastic movies I enjoy, more on that later, but also enjoy the occasional tear jerking drama where everything starts less than great and, as a reversed heroes journey, gets increasingly worse from there just to get your hopes up just in time for a devastating end that often leaves you reexamining your life choices (most pressingly: why on earth you watched that movie). Ok. I admit. I’m not entirely truthful here but I’m the one writing so stop reading or get over it. Now, where were I? Oh yes. Into the Woods.

So. We had the movie on our to-watch-list since about last week and feeling a bit uninspired but curious this lazy Saturday I halfheartedly suggested we watch that movie. The other option close at hand was “Oz the Great and Powerful”. That’s something for another day if my girlfriend will ever let me chose a movie again. At any rate my girlfriend agreed and we started the movie. It started like many other Disney movies with a song and my first thought was: “Nice. It’s another live action Disney movie.” You know the kind, fairytales with occasional song numbers, like Enchanted (which I thoroughly enjoyed for many reasons). The opening song continued and after about 10 minutes I realised that it was probably a musical. I do enjoy musicals but not having read anything about the movie prior to pressing play might have put me in an unexpected situation. After about 30 minutes of singing I no longer doubted that this, in fact, was a full size musical with the occasional non rhyming speech. At this time my girlfriend had sighed one too many times and I decided to pause to check if we should watch something else instead. She didn’t really like it but was intrigued enough to keep watching. After another half hour I did the same thing. She answered in the same fashion as before. After another 30 minutes of sighing I paused for a third time and told her that it’s only 30 more minutes to go. We soldiered on. Right now I cannot remember one movie I started watching but never finished. There are a few, I’m sure, but right now I cannot name them. Another reason for me to write a few thoughts on things I’ve experienced. To help me remember. Anyway. 30 minutes after we finished and I asked my girlfriend what she thought. I take grading movies very seriously since I’m a fan of Netflix suggestion algorithm and want it to work with good data when it comes to us. So much so that if we disagree on a grade I put my grade on the movie on my profile so Netflix can use it for my personal recommendations. Being aware my girlfriends sigh-levels I expected a low grade from her. Myself I liked the movie. Had I known, and I’m the only one to blame for it, that it was a musical I would probably have chosen to see it at a more musical-susceptible-time. And maybe by myself. At any rate she didn’t think it was worth any stars but since that’s not a gradable option she voted for one. Myself, being a fan of Disney movies and musicals, thought it was a well deserved three. So, after some kindergarten arithmetics we evened the grade to a two, and Netflix, once again, demonstrated that their algorithms work.

About the movie. Like I said, I’m partial to these kinds of movies and had I been better prepared for it, let’s say with a bottle of wine (read: a few Gin and Tonics) I would probably have been up in the sofa giggly with this movie. The movie, which is actually based on a musical, is a clever mix of several fairytales and how they blend into a new one. The average theme of the movie is suitable for any age but occasionally the throw in a rather grown up curveball that added to my general surprisedness. The characters are well performed with varying degree of absurdity and silliness. The actors sometimes seem to act an actor who’s acting in the movie. It fits with the absurdity of some parts of it. Chris Pine does a better job of channelling William Shatner here than in the Star Trek reboot. So, in his case, Chris Pine seemed to play William Shatner playing Prince Charming. Hilarious. And also, the song lyrics are downright clever, dark, and deliciously witty at times.

I won’t go into more details because I don’t want to rob you of the experience. Just remember to “hydrate” properly before and while watching.

My girlfriend said: “You don’t make many mistakes, but this was one, and that goes for most of the involved actors too. I will never be able to see Star Trek the same way again.”. (Well, entertaining as they might be no one serious about Star Trek sees the rebooted movies the same as Star Trek in general, but like I wrote before, that’s for another time.)

Anyway. Into the Woods. I was entertained and chances are you’ll be too. If you like musicals and have something to drink.

(*This was written 2016-10-09)

Read more about the movie at IMDB.