What a treat to take my 7 year old goddaughter to Central London in the week before Christmas. As we stepped out of the depths of the underground onto Piccadilly Circus on Tuesday evening she clutched my hand and whispered in awe “ I just love London at night”…
We then made our way to a screening of “Into the Woods” the new Disney film based on Stephen Sondheim’s 1987 stage musical of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales which follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel all tied together by an original story written involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them. In order to lift the spell they must find a red cape, a golden slipper, a lock of yellow hair and a white cow, and present them to the not-necessarily-so-wicked, witch played by the superb Meryl Streep. A strong cast includes Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), (Johnny Depp) the big bad wolf, the baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), Jack’s mother (Tracey Ullman) and Prince Charming (Chris Pine). The film will be released in the UK on 9th January 2015.
From the outset Sondheim’s musical score surges, soars and captivates you as you follow the Baker and his wife on their journey into the woods and their encounters with the fairy tale characters who are all on their own personal journeys hoping to make their wishes come true. But as the film’s advertisements warn “Be Careful what you wish for.”
I was impressed by Emily Blunt’s performance and thought she and Corden worked beautifully together as the warm hearted, loving couple longing for a child. Corden’s talent for humour and surprisingly good singing voice easily won over the 7 year old. Emily Blunt’s tender and sweet rendition of “Moments in the Woods” coming shortly after her unexpected illicit encounter with the recently married, (to Cinderella!) Prince Charming was utterly mesmerising as you watched her thoughts swirling this way and that as she battled with what she had done. Chris Pine played a perfectly cheesy, comical Prince Charming with fabulous timing “I was raised to be charming not sincere!” One of my high points must surely have been his waterfall duet “Agony” with Rapunzel’s suitor, full of wonderful campness although the 7 year old just kept worrying about how wet they must have been getting as they splashed in the waterfall.
To be honest I was a little worried that she would find the film too scary as the trailer had shown Meryl Streep in all her blue wigged, snaggle-toothed, witchy wonderfulness which did mean that during the film there were moments that she suddenly became very attached to my scarf. But then moments later when Meryl stopped leaping out of trees and disappearing in mini tornadoes she was laughing at the Baker’s attempts to disguise a brown cow in flour to pass off as “milky-white”. She definitely enjoyed the film and we talked about it at length on the way home although perhaps she missed some of the little nuances and the bigger message that the film leaves you as an adult, which is all about responsibility, the problems and consequences that come from wanting your dreams to come true and the legacy that we leave our children.