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Home Before Dark? INTO THE WOODS Movie Review

January 6, 2015 Blog, Review No Comments

Into the woods, and out of the woods- I was definitely home before dark. Not only that, but I could not stop humming all of the memorable tunes from the Disney’s musical adaption of Stephen Sondheim’s “INTO THE WOODS”.

Before I dive into this review, I just want to give a heads up to readers that I will be discussing certain plots of the film that may reveal spoilers so, proceed “into the woods” with caution! 😉


Logo for “INTO THE WOODS”. Courtesy of the Walt Disney Company.

INTO THE WOODS is about the “What if?” that comes into play after a fairytale concludes with the stereotypical happy ending. What if your wish came true but it wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be? Fairytale characters like the Witch, Cinderella, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood & Rapunzel go on an adventure into the woods to see if a happily ever after will come to fruition in Disney’s adaption of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical, “Into the Woods”.

I wasn’t worried about Disney adapting this musical when the project was announced. First of all, director Rob Marshall (“Chicago”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”) knows what he is doing. He has worked on several other musicals before, including the 1999 Wonderful World of Disney T.V. film “Annie” starring Kathy Bates, Alan Cumming, Audra McDonald and Kristin Chenoweth (we interviewed two members of the kid cast which you can listen to here), Nine and Chicago- which are all fantastic. He goes back to the source material and finds what works & doesn’t work for the screen; for example, he condenses the role of the Old Man/Baker’s father to two scenes in the film rather than add additional story plot for the character, who is also poorly developed in the original Broadway production.

As someone who has already performed in a production of “INTO THE WOODS” (yes, I played the Stepmother & had a gorgeous green ballroom dress to dance around in), I already knew what to expect with most of the film’s surprises, plot lines and characters. My main focus was the talent that would bring this story to life. Why? Because this is a character driven film and requires strong performances from its actors; I want to live, connect and have fun with the story. But, if you put singing in the equation, it raises the bar even higher.

The casting for this film is almost near perfection; Emily Blunt wows as The Baker’s Wife, being present in every scene and showing off her strong pipes. Daniel Huttlestone and Lilla Crawford show their acting chops as they balance the innocence and maturity of Jack & Red Riding Hood, respectively. Chris Pine comedic timing as Cinderella’s Prince is great. Meryl Streep’s portrayal of the Witch is dynamic, making you understand the character’s reasoning but dislike her for it. James Corden (The Baker) can be spot on as his character in certain moments of the film but mostly misses the mark and seems out of place with the cast. Still, he did manage to make me feel for the character of the Baker when he faces many emotional challenges rather than dislike him all-together.

Many people have been asked in various articles and blog posts why Disney has decided to pursue such a dark musical. My thought was: why not? Disney films are usually stereotyped as happy-go-lucky movies that are never realistic (which I highly disagree with but, that’s a blog post for another day). I think it’s a daring choice on Disney’s part to pick a musical that, in my opinion, does not end on the happiest of notes. The story does not leave you satisfied. It leaves you questioning the meaning of a “happily ever after” and how one’s actions will affect fate & leave a lasting impression on those they leave behind in this world.

As the Baker begins to tell his story to his newborn son, the Witch’s voice can be heard, haunted and removed. She warns the audience, saying “Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell. Children will listen…” But, even as a warning, it is also gentle sign of hope.

Have you seen Into the Woods? If so, what did you think of it? Let us know by commenting on this post, Facebooking us, tweeting us or emailing us!

Here are some of my Fun Five Favorites for the film:

Stand-out actor: Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife.

Favorite Scene: The hilarious & entertaining “Agony” musical number with Cinderella’s Prince (Chris Pine) and Rapunzel’s Prince (Billy Magnussem).

Favorite Moment: When Rapunzel and her Prince are reunited after being apart for so long; they are an adorable couple!

Favorite Song: “Stay With Me”, sung by the Witch (Meryl Streep).

Favorite Line: “Sometimes people leave you halfway through the wood. Others may deceive you – you decide what’s good. You decide alone, but no one is alone.”

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5

INTO THE WOODS is rated PG, with a running time of 125 minutes.

Tammy Tuckey is the founder and host of The Tiara Talk Show. Feel free to visit the ABOUT THE HOST page for more info or email her here: tammytuckey@thetiaratalkshow.com. She apologizes for the various “Into the Woods” puns made in this review (not really).

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