Movie review: Into the Woods

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I first saw Into the Woods when Vanessa Williams was playing the Witch in the Broadway revival. It’s been one of my more favorite plays and I was happy to watch the stage version with Bernadette Peters as the Witch a few years ago with my daughter. So like a lot of people I was excited it was becoming a film. Then I was nervous when I was told they were cutting out the racier parts. Wait what? That’s part of the appeal. It’s supposed to be dark and musical and a bit dirty. Thankfully Into the Woods did not ruin it.

In the new star-studded version of Into The Woods, Emily Blunt plays the Baker’s Wife and James Corden plays the Baker. A couple desperate to have a child so they agree to the terms of The Witch (Meryl Streep) to reverse the curse. Anna Kendrick is Cinderella who has to deal with her wicked stepmother and step-sisters while trying to decide if the Prince is really what she wants out of life. The 2 Princes which provide 90% of the comedic relief are played by Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen. Don’t worry fans of the musical Agony is here in full force (but not its reprise) and its hysterical. Also in the cast are Johnny Depp as a Zootsuit wearing Wolf who since Little Red is played by a child (Lilla Crawford) his song is cleaner and not as lustful as I recall. Jack is also played by a child (Daniel Huttlestone with Tracey Ullman as his long suffering annoyed within an inch of her life mother.

Classic fairy tales like “Jack and the Beanstalk” are showcased with a modern twist in “Into the Woods,” which stars Daniel Huttlestone as Jack and Tracey Ullman as his mother. In theaters Dec. 25, 2014. Photo by: Peter Mountain. © 2014 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 Disney Enterprises

Those familiar with want to know the key changes, besides the toning down of the sexual innuendo are mostly in the removal of the Baker’s father as the wandering old man and changing how Rapunzel’s story ends. Most of the songs still appear and as someone who has seen the stageplay twice these were the most glaring omissions that I noticed while watching. If you aren’t familiar with the play its definitely not for children. The stage version never felt like it and this while toned down a tad still isn’t mean for the elementary aged crowd and probably not your average middle schooler either.

Johnny Depp as the Wolf and Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood in Disney's humorous and heartfelt musical INTO THE WOODS

I still greatly enjoyed Into the Woods. I wish it was funnier. I didn’t laugh nearly a much as I expected to but some of the transitions like Cinderella’s On the Steps of the Palace were really well done. The film is oddly dark not in tone, but it view in the strangest places I really am not sure what was going on with that, but it ends exactly how you expect. This is not happily ever after…And that’s the point.

My Rating: Full Price
Director: Rob Marshall
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: December 25, 2014
Run time: 2 hours 4 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG