Once upon a time combining four childhood tales into one musical is no easy task but the result is comedically twisted in Walt Disney Studios new film called Into The Woods opening today.
When the Baker, played by James Corden, was just a young boy his father, played by Simon Russel Beale, stole magic beans from the Witch’s garden and was caught. The Witch, played by Meryl Streep, had a curse placed on her making her old and ugly since she lost the magic beans but she made sure to cast an evil spell on the Baker’s house. It is this evil spell preventing the Baker and his Wife from having children but they are not aware of it until the Witch announces it. She needs their help to reverse the curse before the blue moon rises and gives them the task of finding four items: a cow as white as milk, hair as yellow as corn, a cape as red as blood, and a slipper as pure as gold. The only way to retrieve these items is to go Into The Woods and find these four items from four different fairy tales.
Cinderella, played by Anna Kendrick, makes an incredibly beautiful Cinderella with an amazing voice whose evil stepmother is played brilliantly by Christine Baranski. Stepsisters Florinda, played by Tammy Blanchard, and Lucinda, played by Lucy Punch, are the girls you just love to hate.
Lilla Crawford plays Little Red Riding Hood who encounters the Wolf, played by Johnny Depp. The Wolf is a perfect role for Depp to show off characteristics he is known for, although seeing more of him would have been an added benefit to the film.
Rapunzel is played by MacKenzie Mauzy who might be confused as a Frozen character with her long blond hair had it not been for the isolated tower.
Jack, played by Daniel Huddlestone, is forced by his mother, played by Tracey Ulman, to sell his beloved milky-white cow in order to provide food for his family.
All of these characters have a wish. They say be careful what you wish for as they journey together to find and lose all four items in order to lift the curse so the Baker and his Wife can have a baby.
Cinderella’s Prince is played by Chris Pine whose most memorable scene is with the other Prince played by Billy Magnussen as they sing a duet causing the audience’s laughter to almost make their song inaudible, much like Pierce Brosnan did singing in Mama Mia.
Stephen Sondheim’s music provides so many humorous moments through song and expertly weaves the storyline together.
Although this film is produced by Disney, it doesn’t quite have that Disney feel we’ve come to expect as it takes four very familiar children’s classic tales and weaves them together in a way that makes you scratch your head when the climax of the movie is not the end but merely another beginning. There are definitely moments of laughter but it is the music that really stands out. Meryl Streep is excellent and there could not have been anyone else to play the Witch. Even though it has a stellar cast, nominated for three Golden Globe awards, and I am absolutely a fan of Disney and musicals, this movie is just one Disney film I do not plan to buy for our movie collection.
Many people have asked if Into The Woods is appropriate for children. If your child saw Maleficent then they should be fine to see this movie. It is not advised for younger children due to the confusion with storylines, some inappropriate mentions of body parts, and the length. At just over two hours long, younger children will frankly lose interest in the movie. My 11 year old son loved Into The Woods and wanted you to know the Witch was the only part that was scary to him.
[quote]”Into the Woods” is a modern twist on several beloved fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), all tied together by an original story involving a Baker and his Wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the Witch (Meryl Streep), who has put a curse on them. Rob Marshall, the acclaimed filmmaker behind the Academy Award®-winning musical “Chicago” and Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” directs the film, which is based on the musical stage production by legendary eight-time Tony, Grammy® and Oscar-winning composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and Tony® winner James Lapine, who also wrote the screenplay. Produced by John DeLuca, Marshall, “Wicked” producer Marc Platt and Callum McDougall.[/quote]
Into The Woods is rated PG for some suggestive material, thematic elements, fantasy action and peril.
Images courtesy Walt Disney Studios. Used with permission.
Media tickets to an advanced screening were provided to facilitate the Into The Woods movie review.