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Film Review: 'Into The Woods'

Jenny Kim |
December 24, 2014 | 3:11 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Meryl Streep as The Witch (@ThePlaylist/Twitter)
Meryl Streep as The Witch (@ThePlaylist/Twitter)
Move aside, “West Side Story,” because renowned lyricist Stephen Sondheim is back on the big-screen scene with Disney’s new movie-musical “Into the Woods.”

Bearing a story that is familiar to all and addicting music that will surely be the soundtrack to the holiday season, this film will most definitely be a hit amongst families during the winter break. With an impressive cast including the likes of Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, and James Corden — this movie is a definite must-see for those who enjoy a humorous and light-hearted film filled with fantastical stories, memorable music penned by musical genius Stephen Sondheim, and a meaningful message appropriate for the holiday season. 

Unlike some Disney films which can be quite childish for some viewers, “Into the Woods” does a great job of targeting audience members of all ages. The abundance of adventure and sophisticated humor keep people entertained and laughing.

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One of the movie's greatest strengths is its reflexivity; the characters are self-aware of their flaws and poke fun at themselves and some ridiculous Disney motifs that have been integrated into America’s most beloved classical films throughout the years. Cinderella wasn’t so self-pitying, Little Red Riding Hood wasn’t so naive, and Rapunzel wasn’t so passive.

What this film does for its young viewers, by educating them and showing them that this really is in fact, just a movie, is important. Previous Disney films aren’t so explicit in conveying their prosocial messages to young boys and girls when Cinderella, one of the most beloved princesses, is definition of damsel in distress.

In addition to Chris Pine, the abundance of talented actors (and singers!) really makes the film one of the better retellings of the stories that have been told time and time again. It’s a given that Meryl Streep is talented, but this film shows audience members a whole other side to the recognized actress. Meryl Streep as The Witch is one of the most dynamic and entertaining roles for Streep this year. Throughout the course of one film, we see her as evil, as good, even sad and vulnerable and she plays a great counterpart to the other characters in the film as well. 

Though we’ve seen Anna Kendrick sing in “Pitch Perfect,” her singing in this film is unmatched. Her ability to accommodate the musical numbers and deliver her role as Cinderella truly makes her one of young Hollywood’s most versatile actors. And Chris Pine—who knew he could sing? Although Chris Pine as Prince Charming is a very different Chris Pine than what we are familiar with, it’s great to know that he isn’t just another one of Hollywood’s (many) hunks. He can sing, he can dance, and most of all, he knows how to make fun of himself. The entire “prince saves princess and they fall in love” affair between Cinderella and her prince is amusing and definitely unprecedented in Disney films.

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In addition to Kendrick and Pine, James Corden and Emily Blunt appear in the film as the Baker and the Baker’s wife who glue the entire storyline together and instigate a chain of events to get the movie rolling. Needless to say, their roles are pivotal and they deliver their roles (and songs) beautifully. It’s also important to mention the child actors who play the part of Red Riding Hood and Jack from the famous story of Jack and the Beanstalk. We’ve seen the actor who plays Jack, Daniel Huttlestone, as the young revolutionary in “Les Miserables” but the gal who plays Red Riding Hood is a new face on the big screen. Both carry a lot of talent and a lot of voice despite their young age, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them soon.

As a film appropriate for both children and adults, “Into the Woods” is a refreshing film to be enjoyed with family during this winter season. The impressive ensemble cast deliver a great story filled with adventure and song that will surely bring about holiday cheer. Through this movie, the lives of seemingly very different people with very different goals intertwine into one beautifully woven story. For a refreshing twist on classic fairytales, go enjoy “Into the Woods” starting on Christmas Day (December 25). 

Reach Staff Reporter Jenny Kim here.



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