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Into the Woods

Lilla Crawford as Red Riding Hood (Peter Mountain/Disney Enterprises, Inc.)


Into the Woods

Once upon a time, a childless baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) wished for a baby. Enter stage right, with a bang and a puff of smoke, a gnarled old witch (Meryl Streep) who will break the curse on their house and grant their desire—if they bring her four things from the nearby woods.

What things, you ask? Lean in close, and I’ll tell: a cloak as red as blood (Red Riding Hood), a cow as white as milk (Jack and the Beanstalk), a lock of yellow hair (Rapunzel), and a shoe made of gold (Cinderella).

As the baker and his wife begin their journey, three other main characters—Red Riding Hood, Jack, and Cinderella—head into the woods at the same moment, following their traditional storylines. For instance, Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) takes bread to her sick granny, but the Big Bad Wolf (Johnny Depp) soon meets her along the way.

Eventually, as their stories begin to unravel, our heroes band together to defend the woods against a new foe—a giant come to exact revenge on Jack.

On the surface, this film adaptation of a Broadway musical seems like classic Disney. The music is brilliant, capturing the full range of human emotions. And visually, the PG-rated film hearkens back to the wholesome beauty of Judy Garland’s The Wizard of Oz. Add to that the button-popping scenes (literally) in which Prince Charming and his brother skewer their own romance-novel looks.

Like Snow White’s apple, though, Into the Woods is flawed at its core. For all our heroes turn out to be zeroes, and this includes a nefarious scene in which Prince Charming seduces the baker’s wife. By the end, our characters’ ideals of truth and goodness, right and wrong have all been slain with the giant. In order to find forgiveness and community, they cling to the stories for their “happily ever after.”


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  • Janet B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:15 pm

    Thank you for validating what I thought years ago, when I saw a film of a live play of "Into the Woods."I hated it.  Fairy Tales are supposed to show us that there is good and evil, and that tribulations will come, but also that things of baser nature can be conquered.  Into the Woods allowed the baser nature of sinful humans to shine, with no redemption to give us hope.  I will not waste my money on this one.

  • Joe
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:15 pm

    Hans, rather than meditating on the details of evil, "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things" (Phillipians 4:8, NKJV)

  • Hans's picture
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:15 pm

    Sounds like an honest meditation on the sinfulness of the human condition. Is there a problem with that?

  • BostonSteve
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:15 pm

    For anyone who's seen the stage production, the movie being "flawed at it's core" is no surprise.  That's the point.  You see, what I appreciate about Sondheim is the honesty with witch he portrays sinful human desires, and the destruction these cause.  He doesn't view the human condition with rode-colored glasses, not does he glorify evil, but he shows us how hopeless we are without God.  Unfortunately, his answer for this void is never God, but his honesty, to me, is a good springboard for discussion on how much we need Jesus.

  • Anonymous (not verified)
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:15 pm

    Why do Christians - if they are Christians - give Hollywood their souls and pocketbooks? Do we need movie reviews, or do we already know what we can expect from the world?

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 01:15 pm

    Sounds like typical Hollywood where "Happily Ever After" is not really the end of the story but an outlandish fantasy.  Given their lifestyle choices "Happily Ever After" is just not possible.