I remember when Into the Woods came out in 2014. I gathered up all my roommates and we went to the earliest screening at our local theatre that was available. We grabbed our popcorn and drinks, settled into our favorite seats at the back of the theatre, and excitedly waited for the movie to begin. I was hooked from the first scene. Everything about the film was absolutely beautiful, hilarious, and moving. A week later, a friend came to visit from out of town who hadn’t seen the movie yet, so of course we went again and drug him with us. And then a few days later we went again...because how could we not see this spectacular film a third time? So imagine my surprise when the box-office attendant fearfully informs us that Into the Woods was a musical. Apparently, many customers had stormed out in the past week and demanded their money back due to the abundance of songs. How could anyone not love this amazing cinematic masterpiece? So if you were one of the people who were hesitant about this instant classic, sit back, relax, and enjoy these 15 reasons why Into the Woods is the greatest Disney film of all time.
15 It Shows A Different Side To "Happy Ever After"
Disney has cornered the market on “happily ever after.” I don’t even think you can say those three words in that particular order without having to pay Mickey Mouse a royalty. So the dual ending that ties up the film (the original "classic Disney happy ending" and then the more realistic ending that rises from the rumble of their broken dreams) was unexpected, yet welcomed and appreciated. Even though some people complained that the second extended ending in the film was unnecessarily, I felt like every ending was essential to the plot of the film.
The happy ending existed to show the traditional Disney "everything is great and happy" ending that we’ve become accustomed to. Everyone gets to experience their wildest daydream and their wishes are granted. Critics are right, the film could have ended here. However, the main theme of the film is the unforeseen danger that comes with wishing for things to be perfect. Therefore, the second ending (which comes after each character experiences some form of loss) allows the characters to escape their misery in a more realistic way, which was comforting to watch.
14 James Corden Is Absolutely Brilliant
I absolutely adore James Corden and I’m so happy he is finally getting the international recognition that he deserves. I remember years ago when he was on The Graham Norton Show (think English Ellen) and he was embarrassed to be on the same couch as Paul McCartney and Katy Perry as he didn’t think he deserved to be amongst such brilliance. And now Elton John practically called him a gift to humanity in his "Time 100" write up. He’s come a long way from where he started and I think his performance in Into the Woods is an underrated gem. Meryl Streep and others steal the show, but James is immensely talented, subtly hilarious, and a force to be reckoned with in this film. He carries the story and it’s so amazing watching his character grow in the face of losing his wife and doubting his parenting abilities. It’s honestly probably one of my favorite character arcs in recent fiction.
13 You Can't Help But Sing Along To The Songs
Is it even possible to pick a favorite Into the Woods song? There’s “Agony” which is hilarious and so ridiculously over the top that you can’t help but put on your best Prince voice and belt it, over dramatically, at the top of your lungs. “Hello Little Girl” is creepily sultry and inexplicably fun to purr out when alone. “Last Midnight” is a big number. It's a huge song that you just can’t help but whip out your hairbrush microphone and provide your teddy bears with an Grammy worthy performance in your living room. Cinderella’s staircase ballad is silly, fun, and always a great song to perform in the shower. But does it pale in comparison when juxtaposed with the opening number? I can’t decide, they are all great, I love them all, and I just want to go for a long drive with my Into the Woods soundtrack on max volume and sing until my vocal chords give out.
12 It's Dark Without Being Unnecessarily Gritty
One thing that always bugs me is how Hollywood can’t seem to do a Grimm (see what I did there? Grim like dark and creepy - but also Grimm like the Grimm brothers? I am the pun master) fairytale retelling—or really any darker storyline—without making it unnecessarily gritty. The only options for fairytales should not be fantastical bright colors and magical fairy princess unicorn adventures—or gritty, badly lit, angry people revolting against a corrupt monarchy. There is room to have a fantastical storyline with dark elements that will shock viewers without becoming a pessimistic nightmare. That’s what I love about this movie. It includes dark elements, like murder, mutilation, and more murder, without making everyone this incredibly dull, brooding, shell of a character.
11 It Explores The Difference Between Nice And Good
Before Little Red sang her song to the Baker in which she detailed her experiences with the wolf, I had never really stopped to consider the difference between the concepts of nice and good. In my mind, if something was nice - it was good. And if something was good -then it was nice. However, as Little Red points out, that isn’t always the case. I mean, don’t most people often express shock over the idea that their serial killer neighbor could have committed such crimes because they were “so nice?” But nice does not always lead to good. People can be nice while they are trying to manipulate or use you. Seemingly nice people can stab you in the back, steal your husband, and run away with all of your savings. Nice people aren’t necessarily good people and good people aren’t always nice.
10 It's Unexpectedly Hilarious
Having not seen the play before I saw the film, I had no idea how hilarious the film was going to be. I loved the lyrics in "Any Moment"; “Life is often so unpleasant, you should know that as a peasant,” sang by Emily Blunt and Chris Pine. I also adored the part where the baker and his wife thanked Cinderella for her slipper (which they needed to make their baby), and Cinderella makes that obviously confused and repulsed face. Watching the Witch stop her backstory song just to brag about how amazing her nectarines are was also a classic moment. I could go on and on about this film. Would it be bad if I said the entire film was my favorite part? Because that's more or less the whole truth.
9 I Will Always Be Game For A Little Anna Kendrick.
No matter what the film is, if Anna Kendrick is in it then I am going to see it. She is absolutely brilliant. Her vocal talent is amazing, her delivery is quick and sweet, her humor is subtle, and she just has such amazing range. How can one girl go from the talkative queen bee of the human world in Twilight, to the sassy yet bitter Beca Mitchell, to Cinderella?! Oh, and don't get me started on her role as a cat eared murderer in Mr. Right. It's simple, really. Anna Kendrick has what it takes to be one of the best in the industry.
If you follow my articles (just click my name under the title of this article), you’ll know that I am obsessed with Cinderella. And I’m going to be real with you for a moment, Anna’s depiction might honestly be one of my favorite depictions of the character of all time. Of course I loved it when Drew Barrymore punched out her stepsister in Ever After, and who can forget Hilary Duff’s amazing performance in that modern day retelling, but there’s just something about Anna’s Cinderella that sets just shines.
8 It Questions The Idea Of True Love And What That Love Is Based On
Like magic, silly sidekicks, and inexplicably attractive animal characters (I’m looking at you, Kovu) all Disney movies share one thing in common: they all deal with the idea of love. Be it familial, romantic, or platonic; all Disney movies have delved into this heavy topic at one point or another; though many of them barely scratch the surface. But not Into the Woods. No, this film takes the time to dissect each type of love presented and asks audiences to consider what we think of them. Does the Witch truly love Rapunzel like she claims or is someone who is so willing to hurt those close to them really even able to love?The prince claimed he loved Cinderella yet he nearly left with her sisters and made out with the Baker's wife in the woods. The children, Cinderella, and the Baker found a sense of familial love in each other and their shared loss, but does that mean that soul mates and true love doesn’t exist as they so easily find a new love to fill that void?
7 It's Absolutely Beautiful To Look At
That Disney budget tho. Honestly, every single frame of this entire movie is absolutely beautiful. Almost to the point that watching this film is practically an orgasmic experience for film and cinematography buffs everywhere. I mean just look at that GIF above this paragraph. Look at the framing, the colors, the way the foliage floats over Cinderella’s feet and swirls around her. The entire film is just a beautiful celebration of the harmony between a series of rich reds, greens, golds, and blues. All of the costumes and their color schemes flow perfectly and compliment both each other and the scenery so beautifully that it’s practically modern art in motion. It’s a feast for all of the senses, but its main course is definitely focused on the eyes and it's a five-star meal.
6 Though There Were Some Changes, It Stayed Pretty Faithful To The Play
When some heard that Disney had gotten the rights to remake this classic play, they were terrified (and with good reason). Disney is known for their classic fairytale remakes that are loved by every generation, but many criticize them for taking these dark, morbid, and bloody tales and spinning them into something that is family friendly and easily digestible for mass consumption. And I will admit that they did have to skim the fat on some of the darker sections of the play (especially the pedophilic undertones surrounding the Little Red Riding Hood story). They did, however, stay faithful to a lot of the darker elements (see the entire Cinderella story) and that was something many didn’t expect when viewing this majestic film for the first time.
5 Two Words: Meryl Streep
Need I say more? Meryl Streep is one of those actresses that steal the show in whatever work they are featured in. So it’s best to give them the grandest role available and let them work their magic on screen without worrying about stepping on anyone's toes. In every film I’ve seen her in she has exhibited this innate talent, charisma, and power that can hardly be summarized in any conceivable way. Her performances leave you speechless, breathless, and awestruck, and this film is no exception. Her role of the Witch exhibits her full range as she dabbles in comedy, drama, brilliantly dramatic musical performances, and fantastical sequences that will make your hair stand on end. She is honestly probably one of my favorite Disney villains of all time.
4 Movies That Can Make You Laugh, Cry, And Sing Along Are Instant Classics
The best movies can elicit the desired reaction on its audience with a well written dialogue, good acting, a sweeping soundtrack, and great direction. The best part about watching a film in the theatre is when the rest of the audience is feeling the movie too and they are laughing in unison, crying at the appropriate times, and you can just feel this tangible joy in the air. Nothing feels better than being swept away by a movie in a way that makes the credits snap you back to reality in a quick and disorientated fashion. Into the Woods is a complete cinematic masterpiece as it accomplishes just that. For those two hours, you’re not you and you’re not in that small, dark, popcorn filled theatre. You’re in the woods with those characters. Their pain is your pain, their joy is your joy, and their acts of buffoonery is the fodder for your laughter.
3 "Agony" Is The Greatest Sequence In The History Of Film
The first time I saw Into the Woods, I unfortunately missed the entirety of this amazing musical spectacle due to an unfortunately timed bathroom break. I knew I missed something great when I sat back down in my seat and some people were still laughing. The second time we saw the film, I held it in and got to see Chris Pine’s greatest moment in its full, majestic, raw form and it was absolutely amazing. I can’t even pick a favorite part. Was it the lyrics themselves? Was it the “ahk” sound the second prince made while lamenting the torture of his “long distance” relationship? Was it when the first prince tore open his shirt and then the second prince hastily opened his as well? Was it that soft, boy band-esk high note that the song ended on? Who can say? All we need to do is sit back and enjoy the majesty that is “Agony.”
2 It Explores The Idea Of Our Fear Of Repeating Our Parents Mistakes
Time to get heavy again, if just for a moment. In one way or another, whether they are scarring or minor issues, we all have some aspect of our childhood that we would have happily done without. It could have been an actual trauma or some silly rule you always protested—there was something that happened to each of us that we swore we would never subject our own children to. When we have kids, we swear we’ll never be like our parents and that we’ll never make their mistakes. Which is true. We end up making our own mistakes that our children will take issue with and swear that they will never replicate. The Baker fears that he will be a terrible father, like his father before him, and worries that the Witch was right to have cursed his family line (or should I say family jewels) with infertility. But Cinderella, and the ghost of his recently deceased wife, come to him and comfort him. You can never be a perfect parent but you can always be better. Better than the previous generation, better than who they used to be, and better than you thought you could ever be.
1 It Shows That Everything Has A Way Of Working Out In The End
Though Cinderella’s marriage was over before it had really begun, it’s not like she was sent back to her abusive family to deal with the wrath of her mutilated step family. She kept her freedom and got a new family which was more suited to her tastes. Even though Jack lost his mother, it’s not like he fell back into poverty. He now lives with the baker and has all the baked goods he could ever want. Though the Baker lost his wife, he gets a child and the chance to grow as a person and a family. He always let his wife take control but now he is the only one who can provide for his family and he has to step up to the plate and vow to be the man his child, and his new adoptive children, need him to be. Though the new family the movie closes on didn't get to choose their ending, they all found peace, love, and family in their mutual loss. And in the immortal words of The Rolling Stones “You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes well you might find, you get what you need.”