'Into the Woods': How the movie does fairy tales with a twist

'Woods' stars Meryl Streep, James Corden, and Emily Blunt, and follows a baker and his wife who are trying to break a curse.

Peter Mountain/Disney Enterprises, Inc./AP
'Into the Woods' stars Emily Blunt (l.) and James Corden (r.).

While some musical movie adaptations can fall flat (we’re looking at you, “The Phantom of the Opera” and “The Producers”), others like “Les Misérables” and “Dreamgirls” can turn into big business for Hollywood. So this year, Tinseltown is adapting the Stephen Sondheim classic show “Into the Woods” for the big screen. 

“Woods” is essentially a fairy tale mash-up story. The original characters of a baker (soon-to-be “Late Late Show” host James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt of “Edge of Tomorrow”) must break a curse that was placed on them by a malevolent Witch (Meryl Streep) and is causing them to be unable to have children. In order to break the curse, they must find a cow “as white as milk,” a cape “as red as blood,” hair “as yellow as corn,” and a slipper “as pure as gold.” It turns out such fairy tale characters as Jack of the beanstalk fairy tale (Daniel Huttlestone), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick of “Pitch Perfect”), and Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) have what they need. The pair also encounters Cinderella’s Prince (“Star Trek Into Darkness” actor Chris Pine) and a Wolf (Johnny Depp), among others. Rob Marshall, who helmed the 2002 movie “Chicago,” is directing.

You’ll find no spoilers here, but in the original musical, the first act consists of a fairly harmless tale in which the baker and his wife are trying to find those objects. But in the second act, the consequences of what they did to get them – and what characters such as Cinderella and Jack did to make their wishes come true – come back to haunt them. Suffice to say: do not be fooled by its fairy tale origins. 

Streep told the Los Angeles Times that she saw the show on Broadway and was herself surprised by the dark direction in which the story went.

“It was so unexpected,” she said. “How it turned was sort of shocking.”

While the movie focuses on fairy tale characters, the actress said she found some aspects of her character, such as the Witch’s protectiveness of her foster daughter Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy), to be relatable. 

“All I'm doing is trying to keep her safe,” Streep said. “That was something that ... didn't feel heightened or weird." 

“Woods” is in theaters now.

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