What do you get when you tie together four popular and beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales with an original story about a baker and his wife told through song? The answer is ‘Into the Woods’ of course, the pleasant and utterly delightful Tony Award-winning Broadway musical which debuted in 1986 and now adapted into a movie by ‘Chicago’ director Rob Marshall. With a talented cast including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, James Corden and Johnny Depp, ‘Into the Woods’ takes us on an imaginative musical journey into the dark, forbidding forest filled with enchantment, mystery and danger.
The mashup is elegant in its simplicity: A baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) wanted badly to have a child, but couldn’t due to a curse placed upon them by a wicked witch (Meryl Streep). To lift the curse, they must follow the witch’s instructions and obtain a cow “as white as milk,” a cape “as red as blood,” hair “as yellow as corn,” and a slipper “as pure as gold.” In the process they venture ‘into the woods’ and encounter Jack (of Beanstalk fame), the Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Cinderella. ‘Into the Woods’ twists the familiar happy endings of these characters into something a bit darker (but not so dark as to lose its family-friendly PG rating) and makes us contemplate these people’s actions and their consequences.
Buoyed by the splendid musical score from composer Stephen Sondheim, ‘Into the Woods’ delivers the goods as a gleeful and magical romp into an enchanted realm guaranteed to please young and old alike. This is sheer movie escapism, plain and simple, as light and fluffy as cotton candy.