A baker and his wife long for a child  but have never been blessed with a baby to care for. One day a witch tells them that she cursed their home many years ago when she discovered the baker’s father stealing from her garden. She agrees to lift the curse but demands that they must first provide her with four specific items; so they journey into the woods to find them. On the way, they meet various people, all with their own small quests to complete and the pair realise that they must sometimes put their own selfish desires aside in order to help others overcome the dangers ahead of them.

Into The Woods (2015) – Director: Rob Marshall

Is Into The Woods appropriate for kids

Rating: PG

Running Length: 125 mins

Starring: Emily Blunt, James Corden, Meryl Streep

Genre: Musical, Fantasy

REVIEW

Based on the Tony Award winning musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine of the same name, ‘Into The Woods’ brings together various Brothers Grimm fairy tales to create an altogether new yet familiar story of morals and principles for children. With an ensemble cast including Meryl Streep, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt – all proving that they can not only act, but sing as well – ‘Into The Woods’ promised to be a movie to suit most peoples’ tastes. Sadly, it does not provide such all-encompassing entertainment.

With occasional but oddly adult undertones, including sexual violence, (which is particularly sinister between the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood) and infidelity, it seems to be rather inappropriate for a movie with the Disney label and a ‘PG’ rating. Putting these issues aside, the story is simply a little boring. There are barely any action sequences (indeed most of the action is briefly described in narrative rather than being shown on-screen) and the songs are mostly a variation of the same, rather bland and typically ‘musical’ sound.

While the movie isn’t terrible, it is unlikely to appeal to its target audience of children and is probably going to make accompanying parents feel uncomfortable. ‘Into The Woods’ certainly isn’t the movie which was promised in the trailers and parents may wish to view it before taking their children and potentially exposing them to themes that they may not be ready for.

IS ‘INTO THE WOODS’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

When the witch (played by Meryl Streep) is first introduced to the story, she explains why she cursed the baker’s family to be childless. She remembers seeing the baker’s father stealing plants from her beloved garden, telling the couple ‘he was robbing me, raping me’. The visuals on-screen show that the baker’s father did not attack or show any form of violence towards the witch so this comment relates to her feeling violated by being robbed. This language could be quite confusing for children, especially those who understand what rape is.

When Red Riding Hood heads into the woods, she soon begins to be followed by a wolf (played by Johnny Depp). He leers at her, calling her ‘plump’, ‘supple’ and constantly referring to her as a ‘little girl’. While the idea is that he wants to eat her, he comes across as more of a sexual predator than a hungry wolf. When Red Riding Hood gets away, she tells another character that she was ‘excited but scared’, ‘nice is not the same as good’ and that the wolf ‘taught me things I had never known before’, all statements that a victim of a sexual predator could say. This is quite subtle and many children may not pick up on this sinister undertone but adults may not be happy for kids to be exposed to such a strong adult theme.

One character is thrown into some branches with thorns on them, a short while later another character says that they will ‘never set eyes on anyone again’, indicating that they have been blinded. Later, this character is seen fumbling around the woods with a bandage covering their eyes, confirming that they are blind. Two other characters are blinded by crows, they throw their hands up to cover their faces and scream for a few seconds but nothing graphic is shown.

Two characters have their feet mutilated in order to try to fit into a slipper. One has a toe cut off and another loses a heel. They are then seen walking in the slipper, trying to conceal their pain.

One male character attempts to seduce a female character who becomes extremely tempted – both of these characters are married to other people. The man is very persistent and constantly tries to kiss the woman who half-heartedly attempts to stop him. At the end of this scene, the camera shows the two from a distance where the man removes the woman’s scarf and leans down to kiss her, she does not resist and it fades to black. When the movie comes back to these characters, they pull away from a kiss and it does not appear that anything more has happened between them although the woman’s dialogue is ‘did he kiss me and kiss me and kiss me’? There are barely any consequences to this and parents may be uncomfortable with this casual attitude towards infidelity.

There are a couple of unexpected deaths which have a huge effect on the people who love them. One happens off-screen after the person’s grasp slips from a tree, another character later explains that they saw their body ‘at the bottom of a cliff’. The other dies on-screen when they are thrown aside by someone who is trying to protect them from danger.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

‘Into The Woods’ is an odd movie which has the potential to be much better. With a dark tone which is too strong for the child audience that it is aiming for and not enough to keep adults engaged, it is unlikely to be a big hit with many people. We feel that due to some adult themes, this movie is not appropriate for kids aged under 9.

  • Violence: 2/5 (Very little violence is shown onscreen, there are a few scenes where the dialogue explains that some villages have been destroyed by a giant)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (there are a few deaths which affect others; however the emotional distress is minimal)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (the witch is sometimes a little scary. At one point she lunges unexpectedly at two characters but this only last for a couple of seconds so should not be too frightening)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (This is mostly implied through dialogue. Many children will be unaware of what is being mentioned but adults will certainly understand and may not wish their children to be exposed to some of the themes)
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (some mild blasphemy)
  • Dialogue: 4/5  
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of families, appreciating what you have rather than fantasising about what you don’t, putting others first, changing for the better and following a journey through to the end even when it becomes difficult to carry on.

Words by Laura Record

Into The Woods [Blu-ray] [Region Free]


New From: £4.49 GBP In Stock

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