Published on December 25th, 2014 | by Sasha Glenn0
Into The Woods
For those seeking a big dose of magic this holiday season, Disney’s “Into the Woods” aims to deliver just that. Adapted to the silver screen from the original Broadway musical production by Stephen Sondheim, the plot intertwines several of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales to create one story.
At the center of the story is The Baker (James Corden) and The Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt) who are desperate to break the curse, which keeps them from having a child. The Witch (Meryl Streep) who placed the curse weaves a devious web, entangling all of the characters in a tumultuous adventure.
Streep is terrifying and highly entertaining to watch in her role. Her vocal and facial expressions exude a character of pure evil.
Other characters incorporated into the story include Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy), just to name a few.
Disney toned down several aspects of the original plot, which would not have been appropriate for children. However, the story still maintains a racy mix of seriousness and humor. Each scene highlights the absurdities of fairy tales only noticed by adults.
One scene which will have adults rolling with laughter is the sudden duet between Cinderella’s Prince (Chris Pine) and his brother, Rapunzel’s Prince (Billy Magnusson). They sing about the challenges of literally chasing the ladies of their desire and their refusal to acknowledge any possibility of rejection.
Certain scenes test the limits of appropriateness and are almost perverse, or perhaps even err on the side horror.
One example of this is the role of The Wolf (Johnny Depp). As he stalks Little Red Riding Hood through the forest he sings about how she is fresh, supple, and young. Through the lyrics and the choice to use a human in the role, rather than a CGI wolf, a strange glimmer of pedophilia surfaces. This is taken a step further when The Wolf reveals a jacket full of candy in his attempt to lure the child.
The element of horror enters the film in a scene where Cinderella’s Stepmother cuts the feet of the ugly stepsisters to try and force them into the glass slipper offered by the Prince. This is not graphically shown. However, it is implied as she waves around a knife and sings about it.
Despite a few of these adult twists, the film should be fun for the whole family to watch. Just keep in mind that, like the original tales, some short scenes may be a bit horrifying for young children.
As is tradition with fairy tales, the good comes with the bad. The moral messages of each fairy tale are combined into one larger message: One should be careful what they wish for, because in the grander scheme of life the ramifications of those wishes may be unforeseen.
It is also a visually stunning piece of work. Nothing comes off as overdone or cheesy. The tales truly come to life and transport viewers into a land of fantasy.
The majority of the film is very exciting and fast moving. That being said, the film is lengthy with a runtime of 124 minutes. Unfortunately, the last 30 minutes begins to drag on and feel tiring. This would have been an easy fix if perhaps the last few songs had been shortened, or the last thirty minutes was cut completely.
All in all, the film is a truly magical cinematic experience. I give “Into the Woods” 4 out of 5 stars.