The musical fantasy film tells the story of a childless couple determined to end the curse placed on them by a witch. Rob Marshall directs some of our favorite A-listers as characters from a mashup of popular fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm.
The main plot of Into the Woods features Meryl Streep as The Witch, a vengeful woman who has cast a spell on The Baker (James Corden) and The Baker’s Wife (Emily Blunt). Simon Russell Beale is The Baker’s Father. The Witch is terrifying, but she’s not entirely evil. The Baker is the story’s hero — brave but flawed. And he relies on his wife, who is driven by her desperation to have a child.
As they set out on their journey to break the curse, the couple encounters a variety of familiar Grimm storybook characters. Parents will appreciate the fact that the plot of the Disney film is more family-friendly than its Broadway counterpart.
For example, composer and screenwriter Stephen Sondheim told The New Yorker that Red Riding Hood does not have a “sexual” relationship with the world, “Rapunzel does not get killed, and the prince does not sleep with the baker’s wife.”
Anna Kendrick is Cinderella. She marries her Prince (Chris Pine) but quickly discovers that being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Her prince is charming but spoiled. In addition to the entitled Prince, Cinderella is saddled with her evil Stepmother (Christine Baranski) and stepsisters, Florinda and Lucinda (Tammy Blanchard and Lucy Punch).
Meanwhile, Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) is forced out of innocence by The Wolf (Johnny Depp), but in a strictly PG manner. The Wolf is mostly interested in eating Red and her Grandmother (Annette Crosbie) and muses, “There’s no possible way to describe how you feel when you’re talking to your meal.”
Jack and the Beanstalk’s hero is also growing up and learning to accept the consequences of his hasty actions. Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) takes from The Giant (Frances de la Tour) and gives to his protective Mother (Tracey Ullman), who is having difficulty cutting those apron strings.
Finally, Mackenzie Mauzy portrays the tragic Rapunzel, held captive in a tower. It’s a tough way to grow up, but Rapunzel is somehow able to keep it together. Her Prince (the brother of Cinderella’s Prince) is not perfect, but he does care for Rapunzel. He is portrayed by Billy Magnussen.
Into the Woods premieres on Christmas Day.