A couple nights ago, after the Rose Bowl, which is a football game that is a big deal, some friends, the kid, and I went to see Into the Woods at the Oak Grove 8 in Milwaukie, Oregon.
I like the Oak Grove 8. It’s a nice little independent theater with a few thumbtack holes in the walls where they hang the coming attractions posters straight into the wallboard. They might note have aggressively raked stadium seating, but you know what? The seats are just fine. The screens are huge, the picture is good, and the sound is just dandy.
Also, and this is a huge plus, the ticket price for an evening show is only seven bucks. For a first run movie! Did you know that such a thing still existed in the world? There is hope for us yet, I tell you. (Although, on a side note, I did take a trip to California last week, a trip that involved a visit to a chain cinema there and, boy howdy, the tickets were thirteen dollars a head.)
So, the kid and me got in for just a smidge more than what I paid for one ticket in CA. Brilliant! Already, before we even get to our seats, I am loving this movie.
As for the movie itself, I mostly liked it. I didn’t know much about it before going in, other than James Corden, whom I am biased toward due to his recurring role during Matt Smith’s run on Doctor Who, was in it. And fairy tales were involved. And singing. I didn’t realize that it was a film version of a 1980s Broadway musical based on Grimm fairy tales.
Now, we are all, at a point inthe progress of Western Civilization, familiar with the sanitized Disney version of the folktales that sprang into the collective unconscious from the primeval forests of central Europe. What we’ve mostly forgotten is that in their earlier versions these tales, especially the ones the Grimm brothers recorded on their ventures into the villages of the Schwartzwald, were pretty messed up.
Into the Woods reminds us of the troubling themes presented in these “children’s stories” very quickly by presenting us with a letchy, rum-soaked Johnny Depp as Big Bad Wolf saying things to a young and virginal Little Red Riding Hood that not all members of our viewing party felt comfortable hearing. There are also moments of implied violence and grievous bodily harm. I don’t want to spoil anything, but some of the traditionally pulled punches were allowed to land. Still, it was nothing compared to your average episode of Game of Thrones.
The kid was unfazed. She was weaned on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a wee bairn.
The one thing she pointed out was that the accents between the characters were inconsistent. Some were more or less Britty, some more American, and one was that Johnny Depp thing that Johnny Depp does. When I pointed out that, if we were going for authenticity, all the characters should have German accents, she laughed and went with it. Honestly, I think all the actors went with the voice the thought fit the role. Kudo’s to Chris Pine for the artfully Shatner-iffic delivery of his lines as one of the Princes Charming. It was almost like he thought, ‘for Star Trek, I did Kirk my way, I had to prove that it could be done, and now’s my chance to show the world I can do Kirk Shatner’s way!’
For the most part, the film was very enjoyable, but, toward the end, things got murky. The resolution wasn’t clean and crisp the way you expect a Disney fairy tale to work out. Maybe that was the problem. And, perhaps, we need to remember that this production has it’s roots in the mid 80s, a time when murky, unsatisfying resolutions were de rigueur. Or maybe we were just tired.
Upon reflection the next day, the kid and I both concluded that we liked the movie quite a bit, and perhaps we needed a second go just get the ending part figured out. There seemed to actually be a moral in there that we hadn’t expected. Something along the lines of, the important people in your life aren’t always the ones you started out with, sometimes they’re the ones your thrown together with when you venture into the woods.
The Oak Grove 8 has a five dollar matinee. We might just find our way back.