From a young age I have been a theater person. Growing up, I participated in community theater and then theater in high school and college, where I chose to minor in theater. I actually was in a performance of Into the Woods one year (where I had my first non-ensemble part: I was cast as Lucinda) and really enjoyed the premise of the show. I love fairy tales and really enjoyed the thought of a bunch of fairy tales being told in one story. So, when I heard Into the Woods was being made into a movie I was pretty excited.
Into the Woods tells the story of Cinderella, Jack (associated with the bean stalk), and a childless baker and his wife as they all strive to achieve their deepest wishes. But getting what you wish can lead to some dire consequences that you may not be expecting or ready for.
Overall, the movie did not disappoint. They kept the majority of the main songs while replacing some of the smaller songs with dialogue. Besides some minor changes in the plot, the story line was exactly the same as the musical (which may have something to do with Stephen Sondheim helping with filming…).
I was disappointed they took out the Narrator/Father role, especially since that also removed what I consider to be one of the best songs. I also thought the beginning of the opening song was a little shaky. However, that could be because I’m so used to the flow of the stage version. Honestly, I don’t think there is really any way they could have made it flow similarly. I think they could have done a little more with the scenery and special effects. Again, I’m so used to the staged version that I didn’t even notice it at first (especially since the majority of the play takes place in the woods). But after thinking about it, I felt certain scenes (Red Riding Hood getting eaten by the wolf and Jack’s account in ‘Giants in the Sky’) could have had something a little different than what they had shown.
Even with the small, nit-picky details, I still thought the movie got across the main lessons of the show: that you are never alone in what you do; that children listen to what you say even if they don’t obey; and to be careful what you wish for. The lessons are one of the main reasons I love this show, because Sondheim has found a way to get three important lessons across in such a way that they don’t come across as preachy and in a way that both children and adults can understand.
But beware: I’ve heard that parents have taken their kids to see it and had been shocked by what they saw. Although this is a Disney movie and rated PG, I wouldn’t say it’s for very young children. It’s not gory or anything, but there are certain scenes that may not be suitable for five year olds, especially since the fairy tales are based on the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I suggest this movie for children 10 and older, but really it’s up to the parent and if they feel like their child can handle the situations presented.