Saturday, January 3, 2015

Movie Review: Into the Woods

Great for grownups... but not a film for young kids

This is my first and perhaps my only movie review, but I feel compelled to review this film. Now before I go any further let me say that I categorize myself as "in the middle" when it comes to what I allow my kids to see and not see.  The kids don't see anything R rated (except Passion of the Christ) and I think we are fairly restrictive in what we let them watch.  The moral and attitude of the movie dictates.  I read reviews on Common Sense Media before they watch any movie or buy any video games.  Because of the age range (2 to 11) there are somethings that the boys have seen (Maleficient comes to mind) that we did not allow our little ones to see much to their disappointment.  So given that disclaimer of sorts, here is the review...

I love this story but it is not a kids story and yet it is being billed as a kid's story.  If you take your darling 5 and 6 year olds to see this film they may end up in tears - at the very least they will be confused - and you may just find yourself ticked that they 'messed up' some perfectly fine story-tales by interjecting violence and infidelity.  

Into the Woods is a merging of four classic fair tales - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding-hood.  It was originally (and most popularly) a musical created by Steven Soundheim and hit Broadway in 1986.

This adult story features a wolf with pedophile tendencies who stalks Little Red, a very dense Jack who, like in the classic story, trades his cow for magic beans and then loots the giant's castle, an indecisive and maybe commitment shy Cinderella (and her not so loyal prince), and Rapunzel, whose biological brother is desperate to have a baby with his loving wife.  The play brings these four characters together in the woods (this Into the Woods) as Little Red does her thing, Cinderella flees from the Prince, Jack tries to sell and reclaim his cow, and the baker (Rapunzel's brother) and his wife.

There are certainly a whole host of 'problems' with the characters in this show.  They are all very very flawed and they are designed to be such.  The entire premise of the story is "be careful what you wish for".  I won't spoil it for you,
but the play is divided in two act, in the first we see the characters pursuing their wishes and in the second we see the consequences of this 'constantly seeking more' attitude.  The baker and his wife's obsession and push to have a child for instance, is the driving force behind the movie and leads to much more than just heartache.

Which brings me to why this is NOT a kids movie.  Disney sanitized it quite a bit, much like my high school did when we performed it many years ago.  But it is still not a children's story.  The stepmother actually cuts off parts of her daughter feet to get the shoes on - and this is in the cleaned up version.  But more than some of those still grotesque parts, the plot is confusing and deals with some pretty big moral dilemmas (things like "do we spare one life willingly to save the rest").  These dilemmas are not going to be understood by younger kids and could serve to undermine their trust in adults who are charged to protect them.

So why do I love this movie? I just gave you a dozen reasons why you should not take your kids to see it.  Is is still great story and a great musical.  It is an adult fairy-tale.  I love the way the stories are intertwined creatively and with complexity.  After years of watching Cinderella and all those other princess stories I really loved that Soundheim has created flawed and complex characters.  I loved that Little Red skins The Wolf and has a nice fir hood.  I love the rawness of it - but I am in my thirties!  And of course I love the music.

So leave the younger kiddos at home.  If you have some older kids in the house who have out-grown the princess stuff,  they will probably love it for the same reasons I do. After seeing it alone we may take Anthony and JR (9 & 11).  My boys would definitely enjoy it and can handle the issues. It will be a great springboard to talking about things like how we go about choosing a life partner, how we evaluate the choices we have in life, appreciating  and recognizing the good that surrounds us, how passion and greed can lead to danger, is sacrificing one life for many acceptable etc.   These conversations are great to have with kids at all ages of course, but I do suggest that this time you leave the innocent little loves at home.

Thanks for stopping by!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...