The new film Into the Woods, based on the musical by Stephen Sondheim, which is itself based on the Grimm fairy tales, is a whimsical romp that twists several stories together to focus on one thing; wishes and their consequences.
The story follows well known characters such as Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy) , Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and the relatively unknown characters of the Baker (James Cordon) and his wife (Emily Blunt), and their wishes, which are intertwined to bring an original story, for children of all ages.
Cinderella wishes to go to the king’s festival, Jack wishes his cow would give milk, Little Red Riding Hood wishes to take bread to her grandmother, and the Baker and his wife wish for a child.
Enter the witch (played the enigmatic Meryl Streep). The witch wishes for the baker and his wife to go on a quest for her into the woods, and in return, she will give them a child, and this is where all the characters begin to interact with each other, as the couple struggle to finish their quest.
Into the woods the characters go, and we watch as they work to make their wishes come true, only to find that the one thing they wished for, really wasn’t what they were expecting.
The film has a strong cast, and wonderful musical numbers. Most notable perhaps, is ‘Agony’, a warring duet by Prince Charming (Chris Pine), and Rapunzel’s Prince (Billy Magnussen). The number is charming, witty, and utterly hilarious as the Prince’s sing their woes about courting women.
As someone who was a fan of the original musical, I admit I was a little disappointed to see some of the more adult aspects neutered, such as there being less death and adultery, and some of the numbers cut, but seeing as it is Disney production, it was to be expected.
What is great about this film, is that it keeps to the original theme of the fairytales:- that not all endings are happy, and be to careful what you wish for. It also acts as a warning for adults; Careful of what you say, children will listen. This renewed concept is a breath of fresh air amongst the happily ever after films that Disney is well known for, and I hope to see more like it.
Both the film and the musical are a classic, and can, and should, be watched an enjoyed by all.