AlpharettaMoms.Org’s partner, Southern Outdoor Cinema, provides us with movie reviews on select movies for our readers. The Disney Studios film Into the Woods is rated PG. It contains fantasy peril and action, thematic elements, and suggestive material. The cast with Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, and Chris Pine is directed by Rob Marshall. This fusion of fairytale musicals unites a wicked witch, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Jack and the bean stalk.
This film makes people question what price they are willing to pay in order to fulfill their longings. We see Cinderella wishing she could go to the festival the King is having. She wants to dance for the price who happens to be a bachelor. The baker, along with his wife, wish for a baby. Jack only wants to keep his cow rather than see his mom sell it. Then there is Red Riding Hood who steals cookies in order to have treats for her grandma. Each wish is certainly obtainable, but they each decide to go into the woods in search of their dreams.
The baker and his wife live next to a wicked witch. She one day comes for an unannounced visit. She explains why they haven’t had children, and she offers them a way to break this curse. They have to find four specific items within three days. They head into the woods looking for these things. On their journey they come across the other fairytale characters in search of their own dreams. All of them will beg, cheat, and coerce in order to achieve their goals. None of them realize that the witch also secretively has a wish for something she wants. Unfortunately, the witch is willing to stoop to any level for her desires.
Even though each character strayed from their path, lied, and stole, the majority of them return with what they wanted. Their happiness is cut short when they realize their fulfilled wishes come with consequences. The situation has some of the characters trading in their long term happiness for quick moments of pleasure. Some characters discover that the pursuit of a dream is more pleasurable than actually getting what you want. Another one discovers that the tighter you try to hold on to love, the better the chance of it slipping away.
Families who are more familiar with the musical animated portrayals of these characters will be surprised by this film. Dark images mirror the murky themes. Everything from death to mutilation is a part of the story.
Although extremely intense for little children, Into the Woods does have a strong message for teens and adults. Making a wish for something one really wants can seem quite innocent, but in the end, it may turn out to be a very selfish act without any satisfaction. When one chooses to wait for others to “magically” fix their problems, rather than working hard to change their situation, they can be creating more victims of the problem.
Vises come in a variety of guises such as entitlement, indecisiveness, too little or even to much self-confidence, greed, being over protective, and flattery. The movie also shows how the temptation of taking a strange path in life will certainly come with strong repercussions. The character’s human nature can be found in anyone, and the message being sent to viewers is to be careful what you wish for, be careful of the path in life you choose, and be careful when it comes to wishing ill towards others. Each of these acts can quickly back fire.
Women are dressed in costumes that are revealing. A man’s chest is seen when he rips his shirt off. Infidelity is implied while viewers do see kissing. Affectionate behavior between a husband and wife is shown. A wolf is portrayed as lusting after a little girl’s pink flesh.
Parents mistreat their children by locking them up, using deprecating remarks, cuffing them, and demanding they do the impossible. Magical curses are used to punish children as well. Characters are shown lying, cheating, and stealing.
A wolf swallows an old woman and a child. Their journey into his stomach is depicted as going through a dark tunnel. A man eventually stabs the wolf. The people come out, and in the end, they make a cape out of his fur.
An animal that is ill dies. One character destroys property and supposedly kills people as he seeks revenge. Death and perilous situations are seen. It doesn’t show it, but a woman cuts the heel and toe off her daughter. A couple of characters have their eyes pecked out by birds. Another character loses sight after falling into thorny hedges. Magical transformations are also shown.
Drug and Alcohol Element
One character is portrayed as drinking a magical potion.
Into the Woods is not the typical fairytale story we have come to expect from Walt Disney Studios. Scenes are intense and can be quite frightening to young children. This movie has taken the darker side of the world’s most familiar fairytale stories and depicted them for us visually on the big screen. Although it may reflect the original version of many of these tales, we have become accustomed to a more cleaned up version for the little ones. Parents may be shocked if they expect it to be suitable for preschool or elementary aged children.
Into the Woods does contain a good moral lesson that teens and adults will be able to get from the film. It confirms for us that lying, cheating, and stealing is never the right path to take in life. If your child is old enough to handle the more violent elements of this movie, it does open up many subjects for discussion with your teen.