Story

A baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) live next door to a wicked witch (Meryl Streep). As a result of being wronged by the baker’s father years earlier (he stole magic beans from the witch’s garden) the witch has been cursed to look like a crone. In revenge for being wronged, the witch abducted the baker’s infant sister Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) and placed a ‘blue moon curse’ on the baker causing him to be sterile. 

Fortunately, the curse on both the wicked witch and the baker can be lifted if the baker and his wife go into the woods and retrieve for the witch four very specific items. These are a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, a slipper as pure as gold, and hair as yellow as corn. This has to be done before the moon turns blue in three days’ time.

During their three day search of the woods the baker and his wife encounter several characters from fairy tales, all of whom are engaged on their own missions. These include a young farm boy named Jack (Daniel Hutt Lestone) out to sell his cow; Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) running from her Prince Charming (Chris Pine); Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), who forgetting her mother’s advice runs afoul of the Big Bad Wolf (Johnny Depp). Meanwhile, the tower-bound Rapunzel is being wooed by Prince Charming’s equally charming brother (Billy Magnussen). 
 
Into the Woods sees the baker and his wife overcoming difficulties as they seek out each of the items on the witch’s list, with the end of the film leading to unexpected consequences for all of the film’s characters.

Themes

Fairytales; magic and the supernatural

Violence

Into the Woods contains some fantasy action violence, some mild violence against children and some inferred deaths. Examples include:

  • In a few scenes a mother slaps her young son across the head and face and pulls him by the ear. In a later scene we see a man throw the same woman to the ground.
  • A step mother bullies her step daughter Cinderella. In one scene she calls Cinderella a “clod” then slaps her across the face, knocking her to the ground.After a man steals a young girl’s cloak she screams out loudly and then kicks him hard in the shins.
  • One scene depicts the Big Bad Wolf lying in Grandma’s bed dressed in her clothing. When Little Red Riding Hood enters the room she sees the wolf and screams. The wolf leaps out of the bed and the scene ends, but it is inferred that the wolf devoured Little Red Riding Hood; we hear her calling out inside the wolf and a later scene depicts her sliding down the wolf’s throat. In a later scene a hunter enters the room and raises a hunting knife above the wolf’s stomach with the scene inferring that the hunter stabbed and killed the wolf, cut open his stomach and released Little Red Riding Hood and her grandma who both appear uninjured.
  • A witch hurls lightning bolts from her hands at a prince who is riding away from her on his horse. The lightning bolts hit the ground causing a forest of giant thorns to rise up out of the ground. The prince rides into the thorns and falls from his horse face first into the thorns. In a later scene we see the prince with a scratched face and a bandage across his eyes and hear that he is blind.
  • Little Red Riding Hood threatens a young boy with a dagger.
  • In one of the film’s more macabre scenes, the mother of the two ugly sisters cuts a toe from her daughter’s foot in an attempt to fit the daughter’s foot into a shoe; we see the mother stuffing a cloth into her daughter’s mouth to stifle her screams and then see the mother holding a knife and bending down, but we do not see the toe actually cut off. A short time later we see the mother perform a similar act cutting the heel from her other daughter’s foot.
  • In one scene a young boy throws a rock at a giant woman. The rock hits the giant in the forehead and she falls to the ground dead.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are a number of scenes in Into the Woods that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The wicked witch in the film appears as an ugly crone with long blue tangled hair, yellow ugly teeth, unnaturally long fingers with talon-like nails and an aged pale face with dark shadowed eyes. She appears and disappears in swirl of dust and a flash of light. In one scene the witch transforms from a beautiful women into the crone.
  • One scene depicts Cinderella’s fairy godmother as part tree and part women, entangled in spider web silk.
  • like fingernails. When the wolf talks to Little Red Riding Hood he uses a menacing tone, referring to her as a ‘meal’.
  • One scene depicts beans thrown on the ground instantly spouting and growing into a gigantic beanstalk that reaches up into the sky and through the clouds. When a woman sees the giant beanstalk she screams out loudly.  
  • In one scene after a young boy climbs a giant beanstalk and steal a magic harp, we hear the loud threatening voice of a giant as he climbs down the beanstalk in pursuit of the boy (we do not see the actual giant). The boy takes an axe and chops down the beanstalk as the giant climbs down. The ground shakes as the giant hits the ground but we do not see the giant fall.
  • In one scene a cow dies and is then bought back to life.
  • We hear that a giant in an act of revenge destroys a kingdom and hear of people being killed. We see the images of castle towers crashing to the ground and mayhem and destruction.  In a later scene we see images of a giant woman walking through a forest shouting, ‘Where is the lad who killed my husband’. 

From 5-8
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

From 8-13
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

The film contains some sexual references. Examples include:

  • In one scene we hear reference made to a baker and his wife as being childless with the comment made ‘Nothing cooking in that belly’. A further comment is made ‘Your family tree will always be a barren one’. 
  • A man says to his wife that it will take the two of them to make a child.
  • When a man is questioned by a woman about being unfaithful, the woman asking the man ‘If you loved me why did you stray?’The man responds with ‘I was raised to be charming not sincere’.  

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Nothing of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Women dress in clothing that reveals cleavage.
  • A man rips open his shirt to reveal his bare chest.
  • A few scenes depict a man kissing a woman on her lips in a romantic manner.
  • After a witch enacts a spell on a woman the woman instantly becomes pregnant and in the next instant we see the woman holding a new born baby.
  • A man flirts with a married woman, suggesting that ‘Anything can happen in the woods’.  He then passionately kisses her several times. The man further suggests ‘Right or wrong doesn’t matter in the woods’, and kisses the woman again. The woman then makes reference to vows and promises. The scene then infers that the man and woman engage in sexual activity.

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

The film contains some occasional mild name calling and exclamation.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Into the Woods is a fantasy musical comedy based on the award-winning Broadway musical by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim. It has a star-studded cast and is likely to appeal to teens and adults. Parents of younger children should note that the film does contain some dark material, adult themes, and scenes and characters that may disturb younger children. It is also over two hours long. The film is not recommended for children under 10 with parental guidance recommended for the 10-12 age group.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • While risk-taking may be exciting, it is better to be safe.
  • Don’t be scared – be prepared.
  • In a relationship it takes two people to make changes.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Forgiveness:  Characters in the film forgive those who did them wrong.
  • Acceptance of others faults and idiosyncrasies.