Thoughts on Into the Woods

Now, a quick note on movie-watching: I love it. A lot. But for me, television and movies are mostly a social thing. I don’t tend to watch stuff on my own. And when I do? It’s usually binge-watching.

But Milady and I have kind of made mutual-movie-watching a thing, which means a lot of afternoons cuddled in bed with the remote, and a trip to the movie theatre here and there. (Before we got together, I only went once every two or three years, and again — only ever with other people. It’s not really an experience to go to the movies by yourself.) Last week, we went and saw Into the Woods.

We loved it. Like, a lot. And I’ve been thinking about the movie-musical ever since we saw it, and have come up with some reasons why we loved it so much:

  • It was an interesting twist on the familiar. There were storybook characters that children will recognize, will know and love, but there are unconventional endings for them. Things do not end with marriages to princes and happily ever afters; like real life, the story is more complex than that.
  • The female characters made that movie. There wasn’t a single female throwaway in there; the women were important to the plot and action of the story, and not just as devices. (At least, not in any obvious way.) I don’t get to see that often, but I absolutely love it when I do.
  • Getting what you want isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Dreams can be deceiving; that castle in the sky doesn’t look half so wonderful when you’re walking it’s crumbling halls as it did from the ground. And that is true whether what you want is a friend, money, marriage, a baby, or freedom. Nothing is really simple and neat, and getting what you’ve always wanted doesn’t magically fix all your problems.
  • People — even parents — make mistakes. The important bit is learning from those mistakes, and trying to correct them if and when you can.
  • Bad things happen. Sometimes even to people who don’t deserve it.
  • Family is not just what you were born into. Sometimes, your true family is the one you make, and it is no less valid for that.
  • There was humour. A lot of it, actually, and in some really unexpected places.
  • Putting together a cast for a musical is difficult. Believe, I know — I’ve been in a few. Not only do your actors need to have chemistry to be believable on-stage, but they have to be able to sing, and sound good doing it. Beyond that, they have to sound good by themselves, when singing duets with other characters, and the cast as a whole has to sound good when all the voices are added to the mix for the big numbers. It’s really, really not easy to balance that out properly, but Into the Woods was excellent in that respect: there was never a moment where I cringed because a note was off-key, or the voices just didn’t mesh and what came out was a hot mess rather than a duet/ensemble piece. So, yeah, tipping my hat to the casting director, musical director, and voice coaches for that one, because it was definitely a team effort.

There’s more to love, but I don’t want to hand out spoilers. What I’ve written here is probably bad enough for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie. There were a lot of different things I enjoyed about the movie, and specific moments that stand out. However, that being said: it is a movie-musical, and it will not be for everybody. The rest of my family went to see it a few days later, and while Liz loved it to pieces, Fatherbot and Will could not really be called fans. What it boils down to, then, is a few crucial questions:

  • Do you like fairytales?
  • Do you like/can you tolerate the musical as a genre/storytelling format?

If the answer to those two questions is “yes”, you will probably enjoy the film. If the answer to either is “no”, you might want to pick something else.

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

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