Cast: Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Chris Pine Director: Rob Marshall
Running time: 125 mins
Rating: PG (violence, coarse language)
Verdict: Hard-to-resist good fun
An all-star cast brings Disney's adaptation of the James Lapine/Stephen Sondheim musical to life on the big screen, and it's hard not to get wrapped up in their obvious enthusiasm.
The likes of Maleficent have proven fairy tales aren't just for kids, and director Rob Marshall (responsible for the Oscar award-winning musical Chicago) has created a film that works on several levels. Tweens and teens will enjoy this, but it's perfectly acceptable to turn up without an accompanying child - just a sense of humour.
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Like previous fairy tale mash-ups such as Shrek, Into the Woods pulls together a collection of well-known storybook characters in an original storyline, this time centred around a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), who are desperate to have a baby.
Out of the blue, their neighbourhood witch (Meryl Streep) confesses she has placed a curse on the young couple.
To reverse the spell, they must find a list of magical items with obvious ties to characters like Cinderella (Kendrick), Jack of beanstalk fame (Daniel Huttlestone) Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy).
Complicating matters is just about everyone having their own issues with supposedly living "happily ever after".
Although many of the cast have already proven their singing abilities on screen, such as Kendrick, Streep and Johnny Depp (the Big Bad Wolf), it's those you may not have previously heard burst into song who steal the show.
Thirteen-year-old Lilla Crawford in her film debut makes quite an impression, and Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen, who play Cinderella and Rapunzel's princes, are hilarious as they belt out the duet Agony.
Led by Emily Blunt (the baker's wife) in tremendous form, the entire cast all let rip. And complemented by stunning sets and costumes, and smooth editing that often flicks between characters singing the same song, it makes for a wonderfully charming, madcap musical.
Arguably, it could have been shorter, darker and potentially more rousing. But that might have ruined the fun.
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