Directed by Rob Marshall and adapted to the screen by James Lapine from his and Stephen Sondheim‘s Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name, Into The Woods is a modern twist on several of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales. A witch (Meryl Streep) tasks a childless baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt) with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree, intertwining the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy).
Musicals: you either love them or hate them. You won’t have gone to see Into The Woods if you can’t stand a musical, so if you did see this in the cinema this year then you probably left having had as much fun as you had hoped.
Into The Woods is the kind of film that you’ve got to take with a pinch of salt. If you let yourself be taken in by its humour and fun then there are a lot of laughs to be had, but it’s a film that you can’t take too seriously. It takes a while, admittedly, as it’s difficult to understand its tone at first. But soon enough, when you see two Princes in tight pants splashing water at each other and singing about love, you’ll be laughing along as well.
At first I thought Into The Woods did have a serious edge to it, and it times it fools you into thinking it does, but with a cast led by James Corden this was only ever going to be a light-hearted comedy with the addition of some excellent songs. The story may have its cheesy moments, but the musical numbers really are a treat. This is in huge thanks not only to the writers and their original play, but to the brilliant cast members involved.
As a Disney film that connects many of the Brothers Grimm fairytales, Into The Woods is obviously full of morals, as well, as it explores the consequences of the characters’ actions to get what they want. Some of these morals are clever and insightful, and for a younger audience they may have some effect, but others are slightly ridiculous (for example, if you have an affair you will die). Again, you can’t take it too seriously otherwise you will over-think its flaws and weaknesses in plot.