From the get-go the Disney film, Into the Woods, released in theaters on Christmas Day, 2014, has the spectacle of a Broadway musical. That's because it is an adaptation of a theatrical production from the 1980s featuring a score from none other than Stephen Sondheim. The fact that it is a musical may be enough to turn some people off. However, the songs are not just fillers. The song lyrics are the core of the story and one must be able to listen to them for they tell the tale and do so beautifully in this film. Into the Woods is a must-see for theater buffs. Continue reading to determine whether or not it is suitable for your family.
My 12-year-old son would have no part of it, not even when I tried to entice him by telling him Captain Jack Sparrow - I mean Johnny Depp - is in it! (Although, honestly, that may have been more of an incentive for me.) My younger son, aged 10, is the film buff and, therefore, sat down to watch out of curiosity if nothing else.
The story takes four favorite Grimm Brothers' fairy tales: Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel, tweaks them just a bit, ties them together with an original story of a childless baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt - who is magnificent) and meshes them together into one musical extravaganza.
The plot centers around Baker and his wife trying to procure the ingredients the witch (played by Meryl Strep) is demanding in order for her to reverse a curse on the couple that has rendered them childless: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold. Sound familiar?
Into the woods the Baker goes in search for the items requested by the witch. But these aren't any ordinary woods. These are fairy tale woods where wishes do come true and where "right and wrong doesn't matter." You know that old saying, "be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it"? Well, we're about to learn that not all fairy tales end happily ever after.
"Careful the path they take, wishes come true, not free." ~ Children Will Listen (song)
The woods are where we stray from the path, in other words, make mistakes. But it is also here that we learn our strengths and re-emerge, back on the path, stronger than ever knowing we are not alone.
Into the Woods is rated PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material and is now available for home viewing. It has a star-studded cast too big to mention, although I'd like to because they all did an impressive job! The costumes, set designs, not to mention the incredible music, all make for a magical movie experience. There are a few "dark" scenes, plus a not-so-scary witch and a giant that is "terrorizing the kingdom" that might scare very young viewers. Otherwise, if you don't object to the almost constant singing, you will enjoy this film. My son complained about the singing throughout the entire movie, BUT guess who was humming the songs the following morning?
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