Right off the bat, I should note that I’m not a fan of musicals (either on stage or as movie adaptations), and Rob Marshall (Chicago and Nine) may be a huge reason why. So I went into his take on Stephen Sondheim’s fairy tale reimagining with much trepidation, but I walked out slightly amused, thanks to a truly heartfelt performance from James Corden as a childless baker who discovers his family’s line has been cursed by a witch (Meryl Streep) and embarks on a perilous quest (involving acquiring artifacts from a collection of fairy tale characters) to remove it.
Much more attention will be paid to the showy turns by Streep, Emily Blunt (as the baker’s wife) and Chris Pine (as Cinderella’s less than charming prince), but it is Corden who comes across as the kind of Everyman figure that we never see in these stories, a believable person making tough choices with more on the line than happily ever after. He makes Into the Woods worth far more than a song. (PG) Grade: B