“Into the Woods” proves charming, juxtaposes fantasy and reality

By Anubhuti Kumar
Courtesy of Collider
Courtesy of Collider

Entertaining and chuckle-inducing, this on-screen adaptation of the popular stage production does not disappoint. The star studded cast, including Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp truly brings to life this clever take on many classic fairytales.

Music and singing take the audience through the magical world. The tunes sweep the audience away and reveal the depth of the characters. If you have ever seen an adaptation of this musical before you’ll recognize it right away. Especially entertaining was a performance by Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen, the respective princes of Cinderella and Rapunzel, as they try to demonstrate their extreme “agony” at being away from the loves of their lives. This humorous take on the dubious intensity of feelings in the princes is perfectly carried out in the actors’ expressions and subtle actions in fighting for the spotlight. It evoked many laugh-out-loud moments and much cheering and applause.

The modern and sometimes dark twist on these childhood stories most know by heart, gives “Into the Woods” an interesting depth. Depicting the more realistic consequences of magical actions and whirlwind adventures, “Into the Woods” puts a 21st century spin and grounds the stories making the characters more sympathetic without losing the overall tone of hopefulness. The sharp contrast of fairytale perfection and harsh reality within moments of each other is refreshing.

Especially perfect were the effects that made it feel as though we were wandering through the woods along with the all the other characters. It was easy to get lost in that magical world.

The performances were noteworthy all around with the actors perfectly balancing the many aspects of their character that made them human. Meryl Streep’s depiction of the evil witch selfishly chasing youth and beauty and mother trying to protect her daughter by holding on too tight relates well the breadth of the character’s emotional range.  Emily Blunt’s character of the baker’s wife also portrays this balance well as she wavers between fair and kind to a desperation that justifies trickery in her conscience.

All in all, filled with wonderful performances, catchy tunes and magically refreshing stories, “Into the Woods” is a must-see. It’s witty, heartfelt and enchanting as any combination of fairytales should be. Perfect for this holiday season.

Anubhuti Kumar is a contributing writer. Email her at film@nyunews.com.

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