If you hadn’t already heard, the woods are where it’s at. Everyone is going there, from the butcher and the baker to the candlestick maker. Well, not really… but there is a baker! Into The Woods cleverly intertwines several much-loved fairytales into one complex plot conveying the resounding message to ‘be careful what you wish for’.
The central storyline sees a wicked witch (Meryl Streep) offer to ‘reverse the curse’ and fulfil a childless baker (James Corden) and his barren wife’s (Emily Blunt) wish to have a baby. The couple must venture into the woods in search of a milky white cow, a blood red cape, hair the colour of cornsilk, and a golden slipper. Cue other fairytale characters here.
Red Riding Hood, played by the irritating albeit vocally talented Lilla Crawford, skips through the woods after picking up a loaf of bread (and stealing several other sweets which she wolfs down) from the baker to take to Grandmother’s house. Jack (known to be accompanied by a beanstalk) is sent into the woods by his mother to sell his “friend” Milky White, the cow. Anna Kendrick, playing Cinderella, dashes through the woods in her ball gown fleeing from Prince Charming at the Royal Ball. And finally, poor Rapunzel, with her luscious, long locks is locked in a tower (longing to venture into the woods) after the wicked witch stole her from the baker’s parents when she was just a babe. But her suitor, the handsome Billy Magnussen is, you guessed it, riding into the woods on his noble steed to rescue her. Throw in a few castles, some magic beans and a giant, and one might ponder that the only thing MIA in the woods is a dragon?
The storyline pretty much touches on themes of all seven deadly sins which would lead one to believe that the film is in fact, not suitable for the whole family. However, like naïve Little Red totally unaware of the wolf’s (Johnny Depp) insinuation when he sings, ‘Look at that flesh/Pink and plump/Hello, little girl’, these topics go right over the little one’s heads (and some adults too). What the whole family can take away from the film is that wants and wishes come with consequences and responsibilities.
Depp’s vocals are lacklustre at the very best but he adds his signature quirkiness to the role and manages to pull off a performance more suited to the original musical. Meryl Streep steals the show (as per usual) while both Blunt and Kendrick’s vocal talents far surpass that of Corden and Pine, their male counterparts. All in all, the marriage of Sondheim, Lapine and Marshall produces an original, witty and impressive collaboration which will have you singing ‘Into The Woods’ for the next week… or two.