The much anticipated Into the Woods is definitely no run-of-the-mill Disney musical. Full of slaying, secrecy, greed, faithlessness, abuse, poverty, and adultery, the film based off of the legendary Stephen Sondheim's musical of the same name quickly veers away from the sugar-coated fairy tales Disney normally advocates for. Even Sondheim himself had his doubts as to whether or not Disney truly was the right studio to adapt his precious work. However, despite Sondheim's skepticism, Disney obviously had no problem with performing a fairytale throwback! Now, before I get into the nitty gritty of the film, I'd like to test out how well you actually know the fairytale characters that inspired this Christmas's most buzzed about film.
With the help of my lovely Grimm Brothers story book, I have created a couple of questions about the original stories. For years, different versions of the legendary tales have threatened to obscure how the beloved characters of our childhood actually came to be. After answering each question, click the spoiler section underneath it to view the answer. Once you finish the quiz, find out out whether or not you're ready to go Into the Woods in the results section!
Make sure to keep reading on after you finish the quiz, and read my review of Disney's latest musical hit!
Are You Ready to Go Into the Woods?
What happened to Rapunzel's prince when Dame Gothel (aka Rapunzel's stepmother) found out about him?
After the Prince had been visiting Rapunzel for a while, Dame Gothel eventually found out about her "daughter's" secret meetings with the Prince. The vengeful Dame Gothel then banished Rapunzel to the desert so that she may suffer in grief and agony for the rest of her life. When the Prince realized that his precious future wife was gone, he jumped out of the tower in despair and landed in a thicket of thorns, blinding him.
Cinderella's stepsisters were willing to do anything to make the slipper fit. What exactly did they do to force their feet into the shoe?
The stepmother was so desperate for her daughters to please the prince, she encouraged them to actually slice off pieces of their feet in order to fit them into the shoe. One sister cut off her toe, while the other hacked off a piece of her heel! The stepmother figured that once one of her daughters was "Queen [she] will have no more need to go on foot." Well, I see how well that worked out for you, Stepmom...
At the beginning of his story, Jack needed to sell his milk-less cow, Milky White. When Jack bumps into a butcher in the woods, the butcher offers to pay Jack for Milky White. What does the butcher use to pay Jack?
On his way to the market, Jack agrees to exchange his Milky White cow for five strangely shaped beans. When his mother finds out, she angrily throws the beans onto the ground and sends Jack to bed with no dinner as punishment. And whatdya know?? To Jack's surprise, he wakes up to find a huge sky high beanstalk outside of his bedroom window!
After Cinderella happily married her prince, what did Cinderella's loyal birds do to her nasty stepsisters?
After Cinderella was finally free from her abusive home and happily married to her prince charming, her loyal bird buddies took revenge on her horrible sisters by pecking at their eyes and leaving them blind for the rest of their lives. There seems to be alot of blinding in these Grimm stories...no pun intended!
When Rapunzel's mother was pregnant with her, she constantly craved a certain plant that could be found in the enchantress' garden next door. What was the plant's name?
Rapunzel's mom constantly craved a plant called rampion. Rampion may not sound familiar because most copies of the story refer to it as rapunzel! Rapunzel's husband, desperate to satisfy his wife, stole some of the rapunzel from the enchantress's garden. Although Rapunzel's mother got a lovely salad dinner out of the ordeal, the enchantress was absolutely furious. No worries though! Rapunzel's dad made a lovely deal with the next door sorceress. He could keep the rapunzel plant, and the enchantress can have the baby...way to go, Dad!
During his few visits up to the giant's home, Jack stole quite a few valuable items: gold coins, a golden egg laying hen, and a ________.
Jack stole quite a few things during his visits up to the giant's home. The gold coins and hen caused a huge economic turn around for Jack and his mother, so of course Jack decides to raid the giants once again. This time, he snagged a golden harp. However, the male giant caught him in the act and followed Jack down the beanstalk. Jack thankfully was able to cut down the stalk before the giant reached the ground. Moral of the story: take what you want as long as you take down the owner afterwards. Such a nice lesson, kids!
How was Little Red saved from the Big Bad Wolf?
While innocent Little Red got distracted picking flowers, the Big Bad Wolf went over to grandma's house and quickly devoured her. Little Red eventually arrived to grandma's house and immediately felt uneasy. Nevertheless, she went up to the disguised Wolf and was quickly eaten up. Thankfully, a hunter was nearby and cut both grandmother and Little Red out of the fearsome Wolf's stomach.
* 1 to 3 Correct: Well, well, well, if I were you, I would probably not venture too far into the Wood. You might want to learn a little more about what you're about to get yourself into!
* 4 to 6 Correct: Alright, now we are talking! You may not be a full on adventuring pro, but you would definitely be able to hold your own in there. But heed my warning! Always be wary of what may be lurking in the Woods...
* 7 to 8 Correct: You absolutely belong in the Woods! Not only could you safely traverse the woody labyrinth, but you would probably flourish among the shadows and trees! Consider yourself an honorary fairy tale character!
The Final Verdict (aka my review)~ Warning: Spoilers!
After weeks of anticipation, I had the amazing privilege of watching this buzzed about film an entire week early! And the experience most definitely did not disappoint. Not only did I get to sit in reserved press seating, but Disney's latest film was absolute magic! I was so obsessed that I immediately ran out and got the soundtrack the very next day! (I didn't get it the day of because all of the stores were already sadly closed).
Anywho, overall, I happily give Into the Woods a strong 7 out of 10! Now let's see what were some of its strongest moments and disappointing pitfalls, shall we?
Let's start off with the good news! And trust me there is plenty of it! First of all, the casting director needs a trophy because the casting for this film was absolutely flawless. Not one cast member stole the show simply because each and everyone of them delivered a breathtaking performance, from Emily Blunt, who hasn't performed in a musical in her life, to the legendary Meryl Streep, who is a seasoned movie musical performer! But let me just take a second to dote on Little Red (Lilla Crawford) and Jack (Daniel Huttlestone).
These two previously unknown kid actors will absolutely blow your mind! Not only is their acting fabulous, but their voices are literally vocal gold. Of all the songs in the film, I came out of the theater singing Huttlestone's rendition of "Giants in the Sky." I mean, for Pete's sake, even Emily Blunt admitted to having a crush on the boy! These two kids are about to take the entertainment world by storm, because this is most definitely not the last we will be seeing them!
The next pro is a little more superficial in nature, but vital to the success of the film, nonetheless. Courtesy of the talented Coleen Atwood, Into the Woods features costume designs straight out of a story book!
Seriously! Just look at these! I would do anything to have these designs filling up my closet! Shockingly enough, my favorite designs ended up being the stepsisters's festival gowns and the Witch's transformation gown. Who knew that evil could look so vogue!
Now for a little bit of plot analysis. The first half of the film introduces us to the stories we all know and love. A struggling Cinderella, a poverty-stricken Jack, a naive Little Red, a deprived Rapunzel, and a childless Baker and his wife all wish for an escape from their dreadful lives. And guess what?! They all get their wish (shocker)! So what exactly is the catch? Well, when the film hits the halfway point, essentially all hell brakes loose, or as a friend of mine put it: "magical musical mayhem"!
The film quickly switches from a cliché childhood dream to an adult's abrupt reality check, proving the age old mantra "be careful what you wish for" very true. Little Red loses her grandmother, Jack loses his mother, Cinderella's supposed Prince Charming cheats on her, the Baker's seemingly sweet wife is an adulterous jerk, and, oh yeah, she also dies. Such a heartwarming tale, right?
And that is exactly what makes this film so amazing. It beautifully fuses together the fantasies of our childhoods with the realities of life. No one has a perfect happily ever after. We lose people, people are unfaithful, and things are never what they seem to be. By the end of the movie, I realized that, in all honesty, this film is truly an adult's fairy tale. Every theme, every line, and every song are directly geared towards the adults who have more than likely already experienced many of life's woes. For example, let's take the song "Stay With Me" into consideration for a second. The Witch essentially warns her child of the dangers of adulthood, which is symbolized by the Woods, and advises young Rapunzel to "stay a child while [she] can be a child..."
But don't let this little doom and gloom analysis of mine scare you off from going to see the film! Although it may have a bit of a dark lesson, Into the Woods is riddled with comedy and magic that the entire family will enjoy!
I hate to do this, but every movie, even one as amazing as Into the Woods, has its low moments. Starting right at the beginning, the viewer may feel pretty choked and overwhelmed by the number of characters and fairy tale references made throughout the film. The constant character introductions start to feel more like a move of desperation rather than a nice nod to the Grimm brothers. Because of the over saturation of characters, the film often felt a bit disconnected and rocky.
Let's take the Wolf for example. I remember that during the months leading up to the release of Into the Woods, many were incredibly curious about the Big Bad Wolf, and for good reason! The trailers only showed about 2 seconds of him, and his unorthodox costume design led to alot of controversial speculation. After watching the film, however, I now understand why we didn't hear much about Johnny Depp's Wolf in the first place.
The dude was literally in the movie for less than five minutes! He did one musical sequence (which he totally nailed by the way) and was immediately killed off! Ugh...so disappointing! I was in shock for a little while when I realized Depp wasn't going to show up again. Oh well, I can't get everything I want in life, now can I?
Next con! The set design was absolutely gorgeous, but, alas, you can definitely tell that the film team had a bit of a hard time shaking off the film's stage history. The overall set left a little bit to be desired. Although tid bits of the castle and the bean stalk are shown, something felt missing when characters would refer to those sections of the kingdom, and yet we had never actually been truly introduced to them. Because of this little snag, the movie often felt like a glorified stage play rather than a big name Hollywood film.
All in all, I can confidently say that Disney's latest musical is truly a magical way to ring in the new year with a bang! Now that Christmas day is finally upon, it's your turn to finally venture Into the Woods...