Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Movie Review: Mortdecai (R – 106 minutes)

After seeing Into the Woods, I made the official decision that I was “over” Johnny Depp.  Having been a fan of the original 21 Jump Street back in the 80s, I took it a bit personally when he self-sabotaged his way off that TV show. He prefers to create carefully crafted, eccentric characters that he can disappear into during the course of telling a story.  That is why his partnership with Tim Burton has worked well (or at least worked).  In the 12 years since the first Pirates movie (yes, it’s been 12 years!), he’s made some questionable choices, and the movies have ranged from weird (at best – Rango and Sweeny Todd), to horrible (at worst – and there’s almost too many to list here, but let’s go with Transcendence, The Tourist, Alice in Wonderland, and Lone Ranger).  He still has legions of fans, and he has done movies that I loved (Chocolat, Ninth Gate, and Don Juan Demarco), but those were a long time ago.  He also really lost my respect when he blamed the failure of the Lone Ranger on “bad press”.  No Johnny – the movie failed because it was bad, not because it got bad press.

Apparently, the inspiration for the movie Mortdecai is a series of comic thriller novels written by English author Kyril Bonfiglioli.  The series contains the adventures of an aristocratic art dealer named Charlie Mortdecai, who is accompanied by Jock, his manservant.  The books are “Don’t Point that Thing At Me”, “Something Nasty In The Woodshed”, “After You With A Pistol”, and “The Great Moustache Mystery”.  First publisher in the 1970s – they have apparently gained cult status.  

This particular movie is based mostly on the book “Don’t Point That Thing At Me”, in which Mortdecai is pursued by police, after being charged with the theft of a priceless Goya painting. 
The Movie Mortdecai starts off with Charlie Mortdecai in Hong Kong, selling a vase to some generic Chinese gangsters.  The gangsters however, are upset at having been stiffed on their last deal with Mortdecai, and decide to keep the vase, the money, and attempt to keep one of his fingers as well.  He is rescued by his manservant Jock and they head home to the English countryside where Mortdecai is very excited to show his wife Johanna his new mustache, which he has grown because “all the Mortdecai men have had them”.  After attempting to kiss him with the mustache (leading to the first of several running “jokes” in the movie) she gags – causing his sensitive gag reflex to kick in, then decides to sleep in one of the guest rooms until he shaves it. 

Mortdecai then receives a visit from his college friend Martland, who now works for MI-5, occasionally comes to Charlie for help with art issues, and is in love with Johanna.  A woman who was working on restoring a Goya painting has been murdered, and the painting stolen.  Martland believes it was stolen by an international terrorist named Emil, who will use the secretly scrawled old Nazi bank accounts  on the back to get a lost fortune that will fund his terrorist activities.  Mortdecai and Jock then head to visit one of their contacts to inquire about the painting, which introduces the second running “joke” – Jock has a lot of sex.  Seriously – that’s the joke.  Also - Jock's last name is Strapp - although, thankfully, this is never mentioned in the movie.  In this case, he has slept with a local farmer’s daughter, who then comes after them with a shotgun. 

Jock and Charlie stumble into a sequence with Russian gangsters (one of which is very excited to electrocute Charlie’s nether region as torture – which becomes another running joke of the one Russian just saying “balls” over and over again).  While they are doing that, Johanna begins her own investigation – but for the life of me, I cannot figure out why.  She actually makes a little more progress than the police or Mortdecai.  Charlie and Jock get back from Russia, and Charlie is eager to see Johanna, but Martland intercepts him.  Hoping to spend more alone time with Johanna, Martland encourages Charlie and Jock to immediately leave for Los Angeles as they were heading there anyway to sell a Rolls Royce to one of Charlie’s clients, Krampf – who apparently has a nymphomaniac daughter named Georgina.  At this point, I could not tell if that was supposed to be another joke, or just a character trait.  Krampf is happy to get the car, and promptly pulls the painting out of it.  Krampf then throws a party, during which Jock and Charlie attempt to steal the painting back, but are thwarted by Emil and Georgina (who are apparently in love).  Emil sprinkles all the seafood with a liquid that gives everyone food poisoning to create a distraction.  There’s a bit of a chase, during which Martland and Johanna both show up in L.A., and the painting is destroyed.  On returning home to England, Charlie and Johanna hatch a plot to get the real painting (the destroyed one was fake), then let everyone know they have it – then catch everyone red-handed at an art auction.

Okay, if that sounds crazy – you’re right.  And honestly, the plot is not bad, and could have made a decent movie.  There will be a lot of people comparing this to old Pink Panther movies, and while it’s not nearly that good (not at all nearly), that’s a good comparison of the zany plot and storylines.  There are a lot of really quirky characters, and while that should have made for a  really strong comedy – I just felt like it was too uneven and had too many holes.  Director David Koepp (who is from Pewaukee, Wisconsin) has worked with Johnny Depp before, on Secret Window.  He does a good job of directing the nonsense in this movie.  It looks great - I loved the transitions from city to city, I thought they were cleverly done, and visually interesting.  As with all book translations – I can’t help but wonder if some of the issues I had were due to character quirks from the book?   

  • This movie is absolutely a Johnny Depp movie. He completely commits to Mortdecai, which I suppose is something, but I was a little confused about the character.  I feel like he should be either an eccentric art dealer, or a bumbling buffoon, but he seems to be way too much of both.  He does know the art world, and is very knowledgeable in his career, but why then is he so infantile in his interactions with his wife, what is the deal with his pouty obsession with that mustache, and why are they going broke?  Mortdecai comes off as a whining, sniveling, child-like moron who also knows a lot about art.  I’ll let you come up with your own analysis of the accent.

  • Gwyneth Paltrow plays Johanna, and I couldn’t tell if she was playing her as disdainful and manipulative, or if that is simply Gwyneth coming through the performance.  I did not buy Johanna’s relationship with Charlie at all, and really expected her at any moment to announce she was the villain and was only with him with for the money (which he no longer had). 

  • Every time I see Paul Bettany in a Johnny Depp movie (Transcendence, The Tourist), I keep thinking that he should be better than this - but now, after the third outing, maybe I’m wrong.  His portrayal of Jock Strapp is over-the-top, but I guess that fits this movie?  The running “joke” that Charlie has accidentally shot Jock on multiple occasions (he does it at least three times in this movie) is not funny, and makes it even more perplexing as to why Jock is still completely devoted to and protective of Charlie.  He is always willing to take a beating, wrestle a dog, get shot, get hit by a car, and have his multiple sexual encounters interrupted.  There is one scene where Charlie encounters the Chinese gangsters about to remove Jock’s finger and was sneaking away until Jock spots him – Charlie explains that he’s too afraid to help, and Jock seems to have no problem with that (“I’ve got nine others, sir.”).  Charlie does find some ounce of courage and saves Jock from the gangsters.  It should have been a great moment of redemption, but I found it annoyingly too little, too late.

  • Ewan McGregor plays Martland, and seems to be recycling the character he played in Jack the Giant Slayer.  He’s all business, until Johanna appears, then he completely loses his mind and allows her to manipulate him into drinking on the job and giving away information.  McGregor, like Bettany, does a fine job with what is there, it’s just that what is there is so irritating it’s difficult to deal with.

  • Olivia Munn plays the nymphomaniac, Georgina.  Within 15 minutes of meeting Mortdecai, she’s insisting he fondle her on her father’s front yard.  By that point in the movie – did I mention that it’s over two hours? – I couldn’t tell if that was funny anymore.  She and Jonny Pasvolsky, who plays Emil, have zero chemistry as well, but they are barely together, so I suppose that doesn’t matter. 

  • Jeff Goldblum plays her father, the American art collector Krampf who secretly has Mortdecai smuggle the painting to him.  He basically plays himself, was really entertaining, and was in the movie far too little.

Overall – a really capable cast in a really terrible movie.  The central characters seemed to be going for a 60s or 70s vibe, so the modern setting makes no sense, and comes off a bit jarring.  I found the rating a little perplexing as well.  It’s rated R – but felt like a PG13 movie, the violence was off screen and there was no blood, there is only one use of the F-word in the movie, no nudity, and every other time it could have been used  - there are the sharp comedic cuts away, like in a PG13.  Perhaps if it had gone a little harder into the R, it would have at least had a more consistent tone?  I don’t have any other suggestions on what would have made it better.  Certainly it could have been shorter, and certainly the tone could have been more even across the board, and certainly it could have been a little more grown-up (laugh uproariously as Charlie attempts to serve really old cheese to Martland!).  If everyone had been doing their character at the same level of over-the-top that Depp was, it may have been more even.  If you really enjoy Johnny Depp doing weird characters, and you don’t mind really silly, poorly-put together comedy – check this out.

4 out of 10.  Gained points for Jeff Goldblum, the city transitions, and for what could have been an interesting plot.  Lost points for Paltrow’s performance, for the characters in general, and for the running gags that weren’t funny.  Also – lost points for that mustache and the weird tooth gap, but I think that is the point of the mustache – so nevermind on that one.
Bonus Video 1;  The Tourist – easily one of the worst movies I have ever seen – called a “comedy” by the Golden Globes, and featuring Depp and Bettany again.

Bonus Video 2:  The Thomas Crown Affair – if you want a really quality art heist flick – rewatch this.

Bonus Video 3:  The original Shot in the Dark – Peter Sellers at his best.

Bonus Video 4: Cast Interviews:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Movie Review: The Wedding Ringer (R – 101 minutes)

Once again we find ourselves in the frozen wasteland that is January, February, and March at the movies.  This is the traditional dumping ground in which studios release those movies that they have no faith in, basically to fill time between the re-releases of their Award-Season movies and their early summer blockbusters (yes, I will see Seventh Son –  which I have no doubt will be this year’s Season of the Witch…hopefully Ron Perlman is it).  If you’re lucky, you can find a hidden treasure or two in this season – a surprising comedy or a fun, nonsense, fantasy action movie.  The Wedding Ringer is close to being a comedy treasure, but I feel like it comes up just short (that was an unintentional Kevin Hart pun).

I am a huge Kevin Hart fan.  I find him completely hilarious, and I really enjoy both his stand-up and his BET show – The Real Husbands of Hollywood (it’s streaming on Netflix – watch it now if you haven’t yet).  Kevin Hart is basically the Donald Driver of comedy, he may not be the funniest or smartest, but no one (NO ONE) is going to out-work him or out-hustle him.  He works almost non-stop, and works hard to make comedy that is wide-ranging with appeal across all demographics. 

In the Wedding Ringer, Hart plays Jimmy Callahan, a slick business man who rents himself out as a Best Man for hire for grooms in pinch, who find themselves suddenly without a Best Man or enough Groomsmen for their upcoming wedding.  We also meet Doug Harris – who is a hard-working ‘nice guy’ about to marry a ‘hot chick’ named Gretchen.  Doug is shocked to learn that he has no friends and no one to turn to for Best Man duties.  His wedding planner directs him to Jimmy, who at first balks at having to find 7 additional groomsmen, but then agrees to help for a huge fee.  From there – hijinks ensue, and over the course of the movie (spoiler alert) both Doug and Jimmy try to stay in a business relationship, but realize that they have become good friends. 

Therein lies both the genius and the weakness of this movie.  Both Hart and Gad are hilarious, and have a great rapport.  It feels like they could improv with one another for hours.  And the majority of the movie is hilarious.  Scenes like Jimmy learning that Doug told his bride-to-be that his Best Man “Bic Mitchum” is a priest in the army are just as funny as you want them to be.  Also hilarious are scenes where “Bic” meets her family, and the introduction of the very random group of groomsmen.  I loved the scene where the groomsmen fake a lot of photos from the past of fun trips and activities they’ve done, and where they each determine their party distraction to use in case they get cornered at the event.  However, scenes at the bachelor party go from funny to gross, and the football game between the groomsmen and the father-of-the-bride’s buddies go from funny to mean.  It felt a little like the movie tried to push for the R rating with a few scenes that it honestly did not need.  It could have pulled it in a little tighter, and gone with the PG13 and a little more funny.

The movie is directed by Yale Graduate Jeremy Garelick (I threw in Yale Graduate so you could be impress by him), and while he did write the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston Break Up (which was more depressing than funny – so tone-wise, very similar to this), this is his feature directing debut.  I’m not sure that matters – I think he does a fine job, and honestly I think that directing matters less in a straight comedy than in other genres.  Basically in this case, he just needs to point the camera at Hart, Gad, and the rest of the cast, and let them be funny.
  • Kevin Hart plays Jimmy Callahan – and yes, as stated, I am a huge fan.  He’s funny, and does what is known among my family as “Warbuton-ing” a line.  Named for Patrick Warburton, it’s where an actor delivers a line in such a way that makes it hilarious, even if the writing itself is not that great.  For an example, watch any episode of Rules of Engagement.  The lines are not funny, but his delivery is.  I almost would have preferred Kevin Hart a little more cut loose, but as it was, he was very funny – and I appreciated his work in some of the more quiet scenes when Jimmy starts to realize how empty his own life has become.  He’s only going to get better as time goes on.

  • Josh Gad is another up and coming comedic talent who has already been nominated for a Tony for his performance in the Broadway version of Book of Mormon.  He’s been very quietly stacking up hilarious bit parts and best-friend roles.  It’s good to see him starting to move more to the center of the cast.  He’s charming and funny in this movie, and you really feel for him once Gretchen’s true colors are revealed.

  • Speaking of Gretchen – Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting is capable of great comedy, as was proven first on 8 Simple Rules, then Charmed, and now less so on Big Bang Theory.  She is funny – but is given next to nothing to do here.  Honestly, the movie could have done with a little more of her and her crazy bridesmaids.  She has a couple of moments, and then at the end, a sudden reveal of a personality that we saw glimpses of during the movie.

  • Affion Crockett (who is one of those dudes that you have seen in everything) plays Reggie – one of the crazy groomsmen hired to fill out Doug’s roster.  His party trick is some pretty crazy dancing.

  • Jorge Garcia plays Lurch – another of the groomsmen fill-ins.  He’s funny, he’s always been funny, and I look forward to seeing him in more movies, and yes – the last line of this movie is a Lost reference. 
  • Dan Gill plays groomsman Bronstein, and while his party trick of dislocating his shoulder is disgusting, he’s pretty funny for the rest of the time.

  • Veteran Actor Ken Howard plays Gretchen’s horrible father, Ed Palmer.  And I mean it when I say horrible, he’s an ass for what feels like no reason.  There was a bit that had the potential to be hilarious in that he challenges the young guys to a football game, and ends up being friends with Joe Namath – but that sequence quickly goes from funny to mean, so I’m not sure it fit in.

  • Also – this movie sets a record for having Cloris Leachman in it, and using her NOT AT ALL.  She is hilarious, has been for years, and they do not use her.  She becomes a visual joke.  Bad call, guys.
  • Hart’s Think Like A Man co-star Jenifer Lewis plays his co-worker/secretary in this movie.  She inserts some heartfelt wisdom just when he needs it the most.  It was refreshing to see her play something a little different than she has been playing everywhere else recently (but only a little different).
  • Also – Smallville’s Aquaman, Alan Ritchson, plays Kip – one of the groomsman.  He’s given a stutter, for no good reason (stutters seem to be go-to bits in comedies, and guess what?  Sometimes they are just not funny).  The rest of his performance was pretty funny, and shows some potential for him in future oddball comedies.  I did try to pull up a picture of him to put here, but apparently he has done some underwear modeling, so I don’t recommend Google-ing images of him at work – but when you get home – I really do recommend you Google images of him!  Here’s a picture of him from Smallville:

  • Mimi Rogers is also completely unused as Gretchen’s mother, and Olivia Thirlby shows up as her sister, and could have used more development than to just be suspicious of “Bic” through the movie.

Honestly, the pieces were all there, and the majority of them work really well.  The groomsmen were all funny, kidnapping Doug for his bachelor party was funny, then having a dog clamp down on his genitals for the remainder of the party was not funny.  This movie seemed like it could not decide if maybe it wanted to throw in a little low, slapstick, blue humor for that R rating.  The truth is, it would have been funnier if they had skipped the dog, and setting grandma on fire (seriously) and just kept with more scenes of Doug trying to bond with his fake friends, or even a few scenes with Gretchen and her friends.  Oh well – it’s close, but no cigar.

6 out of 10 – Gained points for the dance sequence; lost points for the bachelor party.  Gained points for the rehearsal dinner; but lost points for the wedding reception – which should have gone on longer.

Bonus Video 1– Wedding Crashers, another rated R comedy that could have been streamlined into a PG13.

Bonus Video 2 – About Last Night – a rated R romantic comedy where Kevin Hart really shines.

Bonus Video 3 – Cast Interviews

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Movie Review: Into the Woods (PG – 124 Minutes

If you know anything about me, you know I’m not all that into plays/musicals.  I don’t have any particular issue with them - they just tend to be not my cup of tea.  I did see a high school production of Into the Woods many years ago – and always remember finding it very entertaining, so I was looking forward to the movie. 

The play is by Stephen Sondheim and debuted in 1986 in San Diego.  It quickly went to Broadway for an extended run, and in 1989 the Broadway production was shown on PBS.  Essentially, the play Into the Woods introduces 4 characters from known fairy tales and weaves them together with catchy tunes and complicated morality lessons. 

Director Rob Marshall is well-versed with bringing musicals to the screen (He did Chicago and Nine) as well as random non-sequels (Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides), and elegant book translations (Memoirs of a Geisha).  As a fun bit of trivia, he also did the 1999 TV version of Annie that starred Kathy Bates and Victor Garber.

The movie, which has been kicked around for some time, is mostly a faithful translation of the play, with just a few changes here and there.  There’s no narrator, but there is a voice-over by the Baker.   The audience is introduced to four characters each with a wish – The Baker and his Wife wish they could have a child, Cinderella wishes to attend the King’s festival, and Jack wishes for his cow to give milk.  The Baker and his Wife learn from their neighbor the Witch that they are unable to have a child due to a curse she placed on their family when the Baker’s father stole from her garden.  Also – she claimed his older sister, Rapunzel.  The witch offers to remove the curse, but only if the pair can get four items for her to create a potion (a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold) by the third midnight.  The Baker sets off, stating it is too dangerous for his wife, who follows him anyway.  They encounter Jack in the woods, on his way to sell the cow he loves because his mother demanded it.  The Baker and Wife convince him the beans they found in his father’s coat are magic, and he parts with the cow for five ‘magic’ beans, after making them promise he can perhaps buy the cow back one day.

Little Red Riding Hood is on the way through the woods to her Granny’s house when she meets a wolf, and the Baker, who asks for her cape.  After a bit of song and dance with the wolf, she gets distracted, and he goes to eat her grandmother.  The baker runs into her, and wants her cape, but she refuses – continuing to on to Granny’s, only to be eaten by the wolf, and then saved by the Baker.  She gives him the cape as a reward.  Meanwhile – Cinderella has helped her horrible stepsisters get ready for the festival, and goes to her mother’s grave in the woods to ask for assistance.  She is given a golden ball gown and slippers by her mother’s spirit – or the tree disguised as her mother’s spirit.  She has a lovely time at the ball, but runs away at midnight after dancing with the prince.  She runs into the Wife in the woods, who asks her about the ball, and requests the slippers, but Cinderella runs off, and the Wife loses the cow.  The Witch shows up to remind them one midnight has passed.

The next day, the Wife spots two princes bemoaning their loves – the one with the running Cinderella, the other with Rapunzel high in her tower – with her yellow hair.  The Wife goes to see, and steals a bit of Rapunzel’s hair.  The Witch also learns that Rapunzel has had the prince visiting her, and cuts her hair and banishes her to a swamp, as her Prince is blinded by thorns trying to get to her tower.  Jack climbs the beanstalk that grew outside his house when his mother threw the beans and gives 5 giant gold pieces to the Baker in an effort to buy back the cow, which he doesn’t have at the time – and Jack goes back for more.  The witch reminds them they have one more day.
The Wife waits for Cinderella in the woods – she has left one of her slippers on the steps on the palace for the prince to find, and gives the other to the Wife.  The Baker and his Wife get the three ingredients, and find the cow – which then promptly dies.  They take them to the witch, who brings the cow back to life.  They feed the ingredients to the cow – and milk her.  The witch drinks the milk and the curse is lifted – and immediately (and I do mean immediately), the Baker’s wife is pregnant and the witch is suddenly young and beautiful.  Rapunzel’s prince finds her by her singing, and her tears cure his blindness – you know, as tears do.  Jack gets the cow back (and cut down the beanstalk – killing the giant), the Baker and his wife get a baby, the witch is young and pretty, and Cinderella has married her prince (after the whole shoe-fitting thing, during which her stepmother cuts bits off her stepsisters feet to attempt to get them into the shoe). Yay – happily ever after!  Except – in the play, that’s just the end of act 1.  In the movie, it feels like the first two-thirds, but either way…

The Baker worries he’s a terrible father because he had a terrible father, the Prince strays on Cinderella, and the Witch has lost her magic when she gained her youth and beauty.  A second beanstalk grows after Cinderella had thrown away the remaining bean, and the giant’s widow comes down and begins wreaking havoc on the kingdom.  She wants Jack and at this point, a bunch of crazy stuff happens really quickly – for such a long movie, this bit felt rushed.  The Wife is temporarily seduced by Cinderella’s prince (what?!); Jack’s mother is killed by the Prince’s steward (he just shoved her!?); Red Riding Hood’s mother and grandmother are killed by the giant (we don’t even see that, someone just mentions it !?); Cinderella’s stepsisters are blinded by her bird friends (who then tell her the Prince was unfaithful); and the Wife falls off a cliff to her death (yes! Falls off a cliff!  At least she didn’t get crushed by a tree like in the play).  The remaining alive characters (the Baker, Jack, Red, and Cinderella) blame each other, and finally the witch – who reverses her own spell reversal then simply disappears.  They put together a plan to kill the Giant and move forward with their ruined lives.  Cinderella leaves the prince, and seems to immediately decide to move in with the Baker, and they take in Jack and Red as the Baker begins to tell the story to his son, starting with “once upon a time”.

If that sounds confusing to you – you’re right.  And that’s leaving out random bits from the play like the brief inclusion of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty – Rapunzel in the desert, the ‘mysterious man’, and the narrator – who at one point gets thrown to the giant, not to mention a bunch of songs.  Rob Marshall knows how to direct a musical, and it feels very much like the play, which I would say is a success in this type of thing.  I did find that each of the songs sound similar, but maybe that’s due to the fact that a lot of them get layered over one another.  Usually, when a musical movie is produced based off an existing play, an original song is added to compete for the Best Song Oscar.  Apparently Sondheim did write two new songs just for the movie, but neither made it in.

In terms of the cast, everyone did as well as you expected them to do:
  • James Corden from Hulu’s The Wrong Mans plays the Baker, and if there’s a lead in this movie, it’s him.  He successfully carries the whole thing, and is completely believable as the frustrated baker.  Also – what a great voice!

  • Emily Blunt – who also worked with Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada – plays the Baker’s Wife, and she’s got a great voice too, which I did not know.  She does a good job with what is there, I just found the character a bit weird, but hey – it’s a fairy tale/musical.
  • Anna Kendrick – who proved to us she could sing in Pitch Perfect, plays Cinderella, and is very good.  It’s a tough role, because not much of what Cinderella does makes sense, and she seems indecisive for most of the movie.

  • Daniel Huttlestone – that annoying little kid from Les Miserables – plays the annoying little Jack in this movie.  Actually, he’s just fine, I still haven’t gotten over how annoying he was in Les Mis…although, almost everything in that movie annoyed me, so maybe it’s not his fault?  Tracey Ullman plays Jack’s mother, and she’s just fine.  I found her death really odd, since it happened so quickly.  A lot of people quickly die off-screen near the end of this movie.

  • Christine Baranski vamps it up in the small role of Cinderella’s stepmother, and when she takes the knife to Tammy Blanchard as Florinda and Lucy Punch as Lucinda, it creeped me out.  I know you want them to fit that shoe, but yikes!

  • Broadway vet Lilla Crawford plays Red Riding Hood, and does a really great job. Her duet with Johnny Depp as the wolf was apparently ‘jazzed up’ to make it seems less pedophile-y.  Apparently in the play, Red is usually 20ish, so the double entendres in the wolf’s song are more appropriate.  You don’t really notice them here, and Crawford is great at being sassy.

  • Speaking of which, why Johnny Depp is in this is a bit of a mystery to me – seems a bit like stunt casting.  He was for sure mentioned in every commercial for the movie, and really has 5 minutes of screen time.  I know that Marshall directed Pirates 4, so maybe that’s why?

  • Meryl Streep plays Meryl Streep as the witch.  Inevitably, she will get nominated for another Oscar for this – although I will leave it to you to decide whether or not the performance deserves it.  Yes, she’s good, but Oscar good?  I guess it depends who else is nominated!

  • Billy Magnussen and Chris Pine play the two princes, and as with the play, the song Agony is one of the best in the movie.  It is hilarious, and over-the-top, and who knew Chris Pine could sing?

  • Mackenzie Mauzy plays Rapunzel, and she and her prince, once reunited, are almost never heard from again.  Also – what about the fact that she’s the Baker’s sister – why is that never mentioned or followed up on?  Doesn’t the Baker want to get to know her?

Overall,  the movie is very entertaining.  I felt the length, but not too much.  It is definitely not for little kids – which is a little confusing, since it is by Disney, and there are several Disney princesses in the movie.  There is a lot of dark stuff in the movie, and while they did move a lot of the deaths off-screen, there are still some scary sequences, and it doesn’t really have a happy ending, unless you leave halfway through – so maybe don’t take your kids until you pre-screen it.

7 out of 10 – Gained points for Agony – lost points for almost every other song sounding the same.  Gained points for the sets – it looked really good.  Lost points for Jack going back up that beanstalk so many times, and Gained points for Little Red being all proud of her knife and wolf-skin coat.  Lost points for Johnny Depp – it would appear that I am officially over Johnny Depp (although, maybe I have been for a really long time).

Bonus Video 1:  Rob Marshall’s Chicago, Honestly, I think Taye Diggs should have also narrated Into the Woods.

Bonus Video 2:  Nine, another Rob Marshall musical that I never saw:

Bonus Video 3:  Cast Interviews