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Into The Woods Movie Review

Reviewed by on Dec 25, 2014
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Get Kidzworld’s review on the twisted fairy tale musical “Into the Woods”. How will you feel if some of your fave fairy tales have a different ending?

By: Lynn Barker

When a bevy of fairy tale characters including Red Riding Hood, the wolf, Cinderella, Prince Charming, Rapunzel, the witch who imprisoned her, Jack of beanstalk fame and a childless baker and his wife all end up in a dark, spooky woods, you know it won’t be picnic-time for the whole gang!

Little Red (Riding Hood) skips into the woodsLittle Red (Riding Hood) skips into the woodsCourtesy of Disney

The Wishes

With the words "Once Upon a Time," we meet fairy tale characters who all have special wishes. Cinderella wants to attend the king's 3-day festival; Jack, a poor boy, wishes that his cow, Milky White, would give milk and a baker and his wife wish they could have a baby. Little Red Riding Hood buys bread from the baker to take to her grandmother's house, Jack's mother nags him into selling the cow, and Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters say no way is she going to the festival.

The baker needs Little Red's capeThe baker needs Little Red's capeCourtesy of Disney

Witchy Visit and the Curse

The baker's neighbor, an ugly old witch, tells them she placed a childless curse on the baker's father and all his heirs when she caught him in her garden stealing "magic" beans. The witch also took the baker's father's newborn child Rapunzel and stuck her in a tower in the woods. The curse will be lifted if the baker and his wife can find four ingredients for a magic potion; "the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn and the slipper as pure as gold," all before the chime of midnight in three days' time.

Witch explains her curse to the baker and wifeWitch explains her curse to the baker and wifeCourtesy of Disney

Into the Woods

All these characters journey into the woods to accomplish their wishes. Red Riding Hood is eaten by a wolf and later rescued. Jack is lost trying to sell his cow, Cinderella visits her mom’s grave and receives a gorgeous ball gown and golden slippers goes to the festival and meets her prince and the baker is looking for those potion ingredients. He buys the cow from Jack for several “magic” beans, which, of course later grow the famous beanstalk from which the giant falls to his death when the stalk is chopped down.

Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) after the ballCinderella (Anna Kendrick) after the ballCourtesy of Disney

Warped Wishes

Although Cinderella gets her handsome prince and the baker and wife gather all the items, give them to the witch and get a baby, Jack has stolen a treasure from the giants at the top of the beanstalk and Rapunzel is rescued from her tower by yet another prince, all is not well. Some of the magic beans have grown another beanstalk and the giant’s wife, angry that these tiny people are responsible for her husband’s death, is out to climb down and kill everyone. Who will survive? Who will end up happy and who will be sorry that they ever made any wishes?

Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy) lets down her hairRapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy) lets down her hairCourtesy of Disney

Wrapping Up

We are going with the idea that most of Kidzworld’s younger visitors would not be familiar with the Broadway musical upon which Disney’s Into the Woods film is based sooo, a few surprises might be in store.

Baker's wife (Emily Blunt) sees the prince in the woodBaker's wife (Emily Blunt) sees the prince in the woodsCourtesy of Disney

All the warped, twisted and interwoven fairy tales might confuse younger audience members and those who expect happy endings all around in a Disney family film, might be disappointed. About an hour and a half into the movie, it seemed that the film was over having achieved a majority of happy endings to its various fairy threads then…whoops, here comes an angry giant with a pile of heartache for several of the characters.

Cinderella's stepmom and step sisters laugh at herCinderella's stepmom and step sisters laugh at herCourtesy of Disney

You will, however, grasp the life lessons represented in the musical tale, especially “Be careful what you wish for” and, as the classic rock band The Rolling Stones sang “You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need”. You will also chuckle especially at the tune “Agony” sung very well by Chris Pine and his ‘brother’ prince who are in agony until they can make the women they are obsessed with (Cinderella and Rapunzel) fall for them.

The prince (Chris Pine) desperate to find CinderellaThe prince (Chris Pine) desperate to find CinderellaCourtesy of Disney

There is no big “Let It Go”-style musical number that you’ll sing until your parents want to wear noise-cancelling earphones around the house but the Sondheim musical numbers (from the 1987 Broadway version) tell the story and are pleasant enough. We knew Anna Kendrick of Pitch Perfect could sing but so can Emily Blunt as the baker’s wife and Chris Pine as a vain prince. Meryl Streep, as the wicked witch, blasts out a sad and forceful “Last Midnight” as her character loses her powers and goes down for the count.

The witch (Meryl Streep) expresses love for RapunzelThe witch (Meryl Streep) expresses love for RapunzelCourtesy of Disney

Overall, older fans of the 1980’s musical will probably be satisfied with this Disney version and for two thirds of the film, tweens and teens might be too, although you might think it’s just too long and be a little confused at the way several fairy tales are mashed together. For a teen and tween audience, we go 3 stars. 

Into The Woods Movie Rating: 3

Johnny Depp as the Wolf Into The Woods PosterJohnny Depp as the Wolf Into The Woods PosterCourtesy of Disney

Into The Woods is in theaters now!