Into the Woods is a montage of 4 fairy tales namely: Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood. Held together by a plot of the plight of a childless couple (James Corden and Emily Blunt) in their aim to lift the curse that made their house barren, it was a great story on its own in all of its satirical mimicry. It has underlying morals like how children tend to stray the path despite their mother’s constant telling and how humans tend to point their fingers to others after a disaster.
Mr. Baker's father had offended a neighboring witch (Meryl Streep) who punished him by expunging his family tree. In her wrath, the vile witch has also taken Baker's sister as a babe to be raised as her own child (Rapunzel, a weak acting by Mackenzie Mauzy).
It was as the couple was clearing their bakeshop when the witch just suddenly turned up, told them of the old score between her and the Baker's father, and offered them a chance of a lifetime–to lift the curse so they can finally have a child.
Why now? As it turned out, in three days the blue moon was coming and with it, comes a very rare magic. She only requires 4 things–a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, slippers as pure as gold. You get the idea.
Into the Woods is a Disney musical adapted from Stephen Sondheim’s 1987 stage play. Despite being released by Disney, it also serves as a comedic mockery to its own fairy tale versions. Here are samples:
- It had taken the nick out of Tangled's version of Rapunzel like Rapunzel having a very short haircut near the end. It stayed true with the original dark tale of having Rapunzel abandoned not in a desert but in a swamp full of snakes after her witch mother found out she was seeing a prince, whose eyes got blinded by thorns after landing in the bushes.
- For Cinderella's step-family, the writers had stayed true to the original Grimm's tale when it comes to Cinderella's stepmother taking a step so either of her own daughters could have her foot fit into the famous shoe and marry the prince by cutting a toe for one and a heel for another.
- Cinderella has the ability to talk (or sing) to her little birds (which could turn savage) and order them around for help.
- If you pay attention to the lines sung, you'll not be spared the conspicuous euphemism of Red Riding Hood as a symbol of virginity in the original folklore and the fox (Johnny Depp) being a man ready to strike the innocence of a girl (when she's on the clock) especially if she's on her own in the middle of the woods.
Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) plays as Cinderella. While she could sing, her face does not fit for Cinderella. Her teeth are so big and her facial contours look shrunken (she looked more charming in her Twilight days). I apologize for my tendency to get so physical. Despite my obvious prejudice, she’s a great actress in this film.
Chris Pine is playing as Cinderella's Prince Charming and his younger brother, to be Rapunzel's prince is played by an actor on the rise, Billy Magnussen. Just who is this new actor? He looks wickedly handsome in his black attire of leather jacket and fitting pants to match.
Surprisingly, for a montage story, the characters are well-rounded. Just like some (if not most) handsome and rich guys (and heir), the Prince Charming turned out to be a philanderer.
I was raised to be charming, not sincere.
Despite her harrowing methods, the vile witch shows a genuine matronly love towards Rapunzel. Not that she's a masochist, but Cinderella, after all, loves cleaning.
Director Rob Marshall did great with his actors. Furthermore, nothing bad could be said about the screenplay by James Lapine. Now, the big problem lies with Stephen Sondheim. While his lyrics are awesome and spot on for each scene, his music is tuneless and generally bad. For a musical, the songs are not catchy that they're bound to be forgotten the moment the credits roll. In fact, as I write this, I couldn't remember a single line sung in the film except for, "Agony!" just because hottie Billy Magnussen sang it.