At long last, Stephen Sondheim fans are about to step into theaters, and "Into the Woods."
Directed by "Chicago" and "Nine" musical veteran Rob Marshall, Disney's "Into the Woods" features characters from several different fairy tales intertwining for one longer adventure that's funny, heartwarming and heart wrenching in equal measure. But some of the musical's greatest defenders are concerned about the film adaptation, given the twists and turns the story takes. Is Disney up to the task of committing to these dark developments?
Here's what the critics have to say:
"In this fairy-tale mashup, a childless baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) learn that their inability to reproduce dates back to a curse that the witch next door (Meryl Streep) placed on the baker’s father. He crept into her garden and stole not only greens but also her magic beans, and she’s willing to reverse the curse if the Baker can supply her with four items that will allow her to cast a spell.
"Those items involve other residents of the kingdom: the crimson cloak belonging to Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford); the white cow that Jack (Daniel Huttlestone, 'Les Misérables') must take to market at the insistence of his mother (Tracey Ullman); the blonde hair that grows all the way down the height of the tower where Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) has spent her life imprisoned by the witch; and the beautiful golden slipper that Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) wears to the king’s festival after wishing at her mother’s gravesite." — Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
Should Sondheim Fans Be Concerned?
"There were serious concerns among Stephen Sondheim fans, a notoriously rabid bunch as theater folk go, that Disney's big-screen version of the maestro's 1987 Broadway hit would pull some of its spikier punches. Well, after seeing Johnny Depp as the leering, predatory Big Bad Wolf ask Little Red Riding Hood, 'And what might be in your basket?' they should put their worries aside. Whether the rest of Rob Marshall's musical measures up to the lip-smacking, subversive fun of that moment is another question." — Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
The Music Man
"Director Rob Marshall, returning to the world of movie musicals after nailing it with 'Chicago' and than having a big misfire with 'Nine,' is a good fit for the material, especially in terms of tone. Owing to its edgy (and risky) material for the studio, Into the Woods was made on a relatively modest budget for a Disney film of this type, but Marshall, for the most part, makes the most of the sets and real life woods the film shot in giving it an endearingly gritty feel." — Eric Goldman, IGN Movies
Pushing Past the Darkness
"There is still darkness in the Disney film version, but director Rob Marshall pushes past it as fast as he can, cutting songs like the indispensable 'No More.' Yikes! Screenwriter Lapine also eases up on the depravity and the dying. I know, I was disappointed too." — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
The Final Word
"Stephen Sondheim’s stage classic 'Into the Woods,' a dark and subversive musical take on fairy tales, not only survives but triumphs in the composer’s most unlikely collaboration with Disney. Its hard edges slightly sanded by the screenwriter and Sondheim’s original collaborator, James Lapine, Rob Marshall’s beautiful film is still nowhere near as family-friendly as the PG rating, the Mouse House imprimatur and the Christmas Day release might suggest." — Lou Limerick, New York Post
"Into the Woods" is in theaters now.