Parents are always reminding children to mind themselves to avoid serious consequences. Disney’s dark re-telling of the 1987 Broadway hit Into the Woods reminds parents to heed the familiar refrain “Careful the things you say/Children will listen.”
For the uninitiated, Into the Woods is a musical. So characters will break into song from the very beginning of the film. The story intertwines classic Grimm fairy tales in which characters explore the consequences of their wishes and intersect in their journeys into the woods.
The story centers around a childless couple, the Baker (James Corden) and his Wife (Emily Blunt). They find out from a neighboring Witch (a delightfully devilish Meryl Streep) that they have been cursed. The Witch gives them a task to find the ingredients of a potion to lift the curse. The Baker and his Wife must find a “cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold.”
Along the way, the wishes of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy) are also addressed as well as their relationships to their parents. Cinderella has her wicked Stepmother (Christine Baranski), Red has her Granny, Jack his mother (Tracey Ullman), and Rapunzel her guardian.
It’s these parent-child connections (or lack thereof) that make the storytelling compelling. Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) has managed to take the complicated elements of the musical and turn them into a cohesive narrative. Fans of the Broadway musical should be pleased at the way popular tome Agony plays out between the two Prince Charmings (played hilariously by Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen).
Ultimately, it’s the matriarchs who stand out in the movie -- Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt. Their songs sound a cautionary tale for all parents.
Maricar Estrella, 817-390-7720
Into the Woods
Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick
Rated: PG (thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material
Running time: 124 minutes