Even Sondheim fans suspect that in the Sondheim oeuvre, Into The Woods is a charming bit of fluff with a couple of good songs—No One Is Alone became a kind of anthem in the campaign against AIDS. Nonetheless we recall it with great affection as a funny musical riff on Bruno Bettelheim’s analysis of classic fairy tales. Other than famous stars, the Disney film by Rob Marshall doesn’t add anything to the material: with all the special effects at its disposal the movie actually looks smaller than the stage version.
It is entertaining enough, Emily Blunt is lovely, and Johnny Depp is creepy—who knew he’d be in two Sondheim movies? Chris Pine is hysterical—is he doing an impression of the original James Tiberius Kirk, William Shatner? And of course your Mother Meryl is in it (Our mother is Sigourney). We know the Princes are a joke, but was it really necessary to make them look like Siegfried and Roy? And how come listening to the soundtrack makes us feel things, but watching the movie makes us yearn to scoot outside for more popcorn?
P.S. We thought something was missing, so we checked. It turns out Disney has Disneyfied the musical that was the very opposite of Disney. The deaths are not so distressing, and most of the sex has been taken out, including the Princes Charmings’s affairs with Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Neutered!