By Jessica Drumm
All paths lead into the woods, or such is the case for Disney’s new musical Into the Woods.
Originally written as a musical and screenplay by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Lepine, Disney takes this melody-filled, fantastically twisted fairytale mashup and brings it to life on the big screen.
The audience can only watch as it destroys the traditional notion that “once upon a time” always leads to “happily ever after.”
The clever plot is propelled by a Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) who are childless thanks to the curse of a once-beautiful witch (Meryl Streep) who cursed the couple for a misdeed done to her by the Baker’s father. She then tells them there is only one way to reverse the curse. The couple has to find four objects before the rise of a magical blue moon: a milk-white cow, hair as yellow as corn, a blood-red cape, and a slipper of gold.
The couple then enters the forest to find the items that will reverse the spell. During their journey, they meet Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Campbell), Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) and Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), each one on a journey to fulfill a wish.
All their paths lead into the woods, a scary place where most of the characters lose their way, both morally and ethically, and danger lurks in the shadows. Most notably in the form of Johnny Depp as the Wolf.
Eventually, everyone’s wish comes true in some form. Death, infidelity, disillusionment and finger-pointing eventually lead to a resolutions that audiences of any age can relate to.
The phrase, “Be Careful What You Wish For” is hinted at on the film’s poster and this musical makes sure that warning is repeated throughout the entire film. Convincing the audience that even wishes you think are good can come with a price tag you don’t expect.
For example, Cinderella dreams of meeting a handsome prince. But when she does she realizes that princes aren’t necessarily who you wish them to be.
The value of fatherhood and parenting is this musical’s next big moral concern. After ending up in a moment of great loss, the Baker thinks he needs to walk away from it all, even his new baby. But a vision of his father, a man who ran away when the Baker was a child, convinces him to turn back and stand strong.
The film culminates on the idea that life isn’t always right or wrong, good or bad, blessed or cursed. Sometimes witches can be right and giants can be good.
Plus, for those people who are happiest when there are a lot of people singing at the same time, Into the Woods is quite engaging in its disenchantment about what life has to offer or not offer.