(Film Review) MARQUEE MAMA Sings the Praises of Disney’s INTO THE WOODS


I wish…

More than anything… we were allowed to publish this review of Disney’s Into the Woods weeks ago! That way, you could have been learning the lyrics to the fantastic songs and been ready well ahead of time to sing out loud along with these amazing characters in what is certain to be the family film hit of the Christmas season.

This is one not to be missed. That said, to enjoy Into the Woods, you must like musicals. A love of musicals would be even better. You’re hit with it immediately, in fact, the very first non-narrated line of the movie is sung. This is not a movie for my son, who can’t understand why actors in movies suddenly break into song, but my daughter is counting the days to Christmas and it has little to do with Santa Claus.

Truly memorable fairy tales can be counted on one hand (maybe two). But if you’re like me, never exposed to fairy tales as a child, Into the Woods is a good crash course in the best of them. Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack & the Beanstock and Little Red Riding Hood converge in this original tale (adapted from the Tony Award-winning stage version), woven together then twisted and turned.

Click ahead for my full review of Disney’s Into the Woods, coming to theaters on Christmas Day!



Into the Woods starts with a witch who has cast a spell (good start to a fairy tale!) on a sweet couple, rendering them childless. Naturally, reversing the curse comes at a price and thus the adventure begins.




While Meryl Streep, as “The Witch”, is the shining star (in any movie, really), she is surrounded here by scene-stealers. In this order: “Little Red”, played by Lilla Crawford, with her mighty voice, angelic look, and equal parts logic and bravery; “The Baker’s Wife”, played by Emily Blunt, who exudes altruism contrasted with a laser-focus on achieving her goal; “Jack”, played by Daniel Huttlestone, whose thick British accent, detectable in song as well as dialogue, somehow lent credibility to his questionable decisions, wide-eyed innocence and well-intending heart. And any glimpse of Tracey Ullman is always a treat. Lest I end without a nod to the fetching Chris Pine, playing “The Prince”, who sends what I hope becomes a loud and clear message to all dreamy young girls (like mine) who expect a handsome man to make all their dreams come true. (Think Frozen here)

The movie could have had a natural end about ¾ of the way through for me, but the lively music, entertaining performances and visual beauty will carry you through to the actual end. My Christmas wish for you and your family is to spend 2 hours and 4 minutes watching this gem. More than anything…I wish.




What I Loved:

– I’m not typically a fan of narration in movies, but when the opening line is “Once upon a time”, it sends me straight to fantasyland – a great mindset to enjoy a film like this.
– Cinderella’s evil stepmother and stepsisters are additional scene-stealers, and I appreciated the fact they were not physically hideous. It shows beauty really can be skin deep.
– Meryl Streep makes a scary and likeable and sympathetic and amusing witch whose singing skills in this role verge on rapping!
– The two hot princes share a very memorable duet, so funny you will even laugh at the clichés.
– Delivered in song by Little Red, “nice is different than good”, are cautionary words to live by.
– Equally poignant, The Prince declares “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” Girls, ladies, are you listening?
– While Into the Woods does have frightening moments, nothing on screen is too scary for little ones. The scariest moments are implied, not forced on you.
– Anna Kendrick and MacKenzie Mauzy could voice all future Disney princesses.
– The songs that intersect the parallel stories are so fast paced, this movie better get some nominations for editing!





What I Didn’t Love:

– Sorry to report, but I think Johnny Depp (as “The Wolf”) has been way oversold. Sure he’s entertaining but mostly because you’re expecting him to be entertaining. His presence is easily forgotten among the mass of other talent in the film and his costume is really lame. I didn’t get it.
– Anna Kendrick, while a splendid Cinderella, just didn’t transform very dramatically from poor, abused housemaid to the beautiful and mysterious party guest. She might have too much natural beauty to pull this off. Make up!
– I counted 5 possible happy endings well before the movie ended, and that would have satisfied me. But if you hang in there (for another half hour), you will get some kind of message. Endings other than happy ones do exist…?




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