Oscar-nominated musical “Into the Woods” rewards viewers who abhor passive princesses and happily ever-after fairytales. For those who overlooked the film due to its childlike appeal, give it a shot before it leaves theaters.
The Academy nominated the film for three awards — costume design, production design and best supporting actress for Meryl Streep’s role as the Witch. Awards will be announced March 2.
Equally humorous and heartwarming, the film impresses even Disney skeptics. It tastefully skewers classic fairy tale stereotypes while reeling in younger viewers with its character mash-ups.
The film intertwines the stories of “Cinderella” (Ann Kendrick), “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Rapunzel,” and “Little Red Riding Hood” with an original story about a baker (James Cordon) and his wife (Emily Blunt). The happenings in the woods challenge the characters to break out of their comfort zones.
The Witch had cursed the baker and his wife, preventing them from having children. The Witch promises to lift the curse if the Baker can retrieve “the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold” within three days.
The Witch needs these ingredients in order to restore her beauty. Unbeknownst to the Baker, who heads straight into the woods, Rapunzel, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella hold the keys to his mission’s success. Through the movie, they’ll discover their problems don’t magically disappear.
The film centers on Streep’s performance. She fell into the role body and soul, bringing the character to life physically and emotionally. With every movement, every screech, every bellowed spell, and every raised eyebrow, she communicated her character’s frustration and relentlessly selfish vanity to the audience.
Kendrick, an unconventional but perfect choice for Cinderella, can captivate anyone with her sharp, pitch-perfect voice. In the beginning of the film, her Cinderella was whiny and shallow, making her unlikeable and annoying. By the end, Kendrick wins over the audience.
The standout moment of the musical was the song “Agony” performed by Chris Pine (Cinderella’s Prince) and Billy Magnusson (Rapunzel’s Prince). They hilariously dramatized the woes of being a fairytale prince and trying to win the heart of a princess. As their perfectly highlighted hair glistened in the sunlight, the two princes ripped open their shirts to show off their chests and listed what made them the perfect catch.
Pine’s meticulous performance as a vain and playboy prince is perhaps the strongest comedic point of the film, particularly as he sings “Agony.” His whole-hearted presentation is infectious, as Magnussen responds in tune to Pine’s body language and over-articulated speech. The audience roared with laughter and applause.
Whether or not one is a fan of musicals and retellings of fairy tales, “Into the Woods” provides a refreshing perspective that audiences of all ages can enjoy. To younger viewers, the film can be thrilling with its multiple goal-oriented adventure points, frightening villains, and magical scenery. Older audiences, whether forced to attend as chaperones or not, will certainly get a good laugh and leave the film knowing their children will have a different perspective on gender and class stereotypes.