After his father stole from a witch (Meryl Streep), she put a curse on their house, causing the baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) to not be able to have children. She tells them that to break the spell, they must bring her some random items. A cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, a slipper as pure as gold, and hair as yellow as corn. Once they have delivered the items, they curse will be lifted.
While searching for the items, the baker and his wife encounter others, making their way through the woods. Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) is a young boy, sent by his mother (Tracey Ullman) to sell his beloved cow, who does not produce any milk.
Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) is fleeing from Prince Charming (Chris Pine) in the woods. The baker’s wife meets her while her husband is off in search of more items. The baker comes across a small home. Here, he rescues Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) and her grandmother from the big bad wolf (Johnny Depp). Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy), unbeknownst to the witch, has met a prince (Billy Magnussen). He comes to visit Rapunzel while the witch is away.
As the baker and his wife are ready to deliver all the spell-breaking items to the witch, the giant, who lives at the top of the beanstalk comes down in search of Jack, who has stolen his goose.
Into the Woods is Disney’s story that combines several fairy tales into one universe. This makes for a confusing narrative. On top of that, it is a musical. As with most musicals, the songs seem to be thrown in at random times, adding to the confusion.
The performances by everyone are acceptable. Nothing remarkable, though. Johnny Depp is surprisingly in the movie for a very short time. It’s as if they just cast him to use his star power to fill out the cast. With so many big names crammed in one film, especially one with so many story lines combined, it is no surprise that none of the actors get a chance to shine. Everything comes off as rushed and thrown together.
The best part of the film is the duet of “Agony” with Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen. The two princes are lamenting which of their lives is more difficult. The amusing back and forth between Pine and Magnussen is the lone shining moment in the movie.
If you were involved with this story, say as one of the musicals from high school, you may have a fleeting sense of nostalgia as the memories of that time come to mind. That quickly passes as you wait for the movie to end, which it never seems to do.
It’s too deep and dark for kids who love the fairy tales they are based on. It is too jumbled for everyone else. Those who love Disney and/or musicals may enjoy Into the Woods. Other than that, I would recommend passing on this one.