Into the Woods Movie – A Dad’s Critical Review

I just took my family to see the most philosophically pernicious Disney movie of all time: Into the Woods. As the story warns you: “Careful the tale you tell…Children will listen.” Read on to find out why…

into the woods

My almost-11-years-old twin daughters Mary Claire and Rose were dying to see Disney’s Into the Woods. In case you don’t have twin daughters keeping you in the know, Into the Woods is a mashup fairytale of Jack in the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel.

What was Great about Into the Woods

The film was beautiful with an all-star cast: Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, and Tracey Ullman. It’s a film adaptation of the 1987 Broadway musical “Into the Woods.” I ain’t gonna lie. When Chris Pine did his musical number on the waterfall, I was laughing and loving it. It reminded me of something from my favorite musical: Pirates of Penzance. 

I was so into the film that at one point I even thought to myself, “This is great. I should buy stock in Disney. This is so well done!” The music was fun and fantastic. The story moved quickly and held my attention. I wasn’t getting up to go the bathroom.

From a story-telling point of view, the musical weaves together various classic fairytales into one giant meta-narrative so that each character was interconnected. And at last, all the happier ever after’s happened. The Prince married Cinderella. Little Red Riding Hood lived. The baker’s wife had a baby. The witch was appeased. Rapunzel got her man, too. Jack kleptoed the giant’s gold and chopped the beanstalk to kill him.

But then the pernicious twist…

What was Wrong about Into the Woods

For 60 years Disney has made beautiful “happily ever after” cartoons. I don’t know if it’s feminism or just Western jadedness, but “happily ever after” is just soooo not cool anymore. Moreover, it’s now fashionable to reveal the prince as evil and the princess as romantically frozen or emotionally tangled. There can be no love at first sight. Oh, and if there is, it will be crushed. The wounded girl will go on to become a maleficent benevolent heroine.

I get it. Happy endings can be more like the aftermath of Helm’s Deep. Life is messy. Not everything is “A Dream is a Wish that Your Heart Makes.”

So Into the Woods creatively deconstructs the “happily” narrative of each story. At one point Cinderella’s prince-husband (?) begins to seduce the baker’s wife who just had a baby. One of my daughters leans over and says, “Daddy, what is happening?” I lean in and say, “The Prince is trying to commit adultery with her.” Yikes. This was not the delicately whispered conversation that I had hoped to have during a holiday trek to the the cinema. All I can say, “It’s a good thing we’ve gone over the 10 Commandments as a family.” I have explained the elusive “Thou shalt not commit adultery” as “When you try to marry someone who is not your husband/wife.” Now we have a kids movie to help us understand it more deeply. Thanks Disney!

Into the Woods as a Secular Sermonizing

So, yeah, there was the awkward Baker’s wife and Prince kiss scene and then the wife’s perplexity over it. But that’s not really what made me dislike the film.

I’m a philosopher. I’m a prof. That’s my trade. So it was the not-so-subtle sermon at the end of the film that got my goat.

There is a final scene in which all the characters play the blame game. They each take turn blaming the others for the unhappy ending in which they find themselves. The witch finally reveals that finding blame is unhelpful. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody screwed up. Everybody is to blame. So just move on with your life. Pick up the pieces and try to make something of it.

Into the Woods as Philosophical Nominalism

Ultimately, Into the Woods is an apologetic for the philosophical school of nominalism – an error going back before the days of Socrates and Plato. Nominalism holds that there is not real essence or form out there in the world. There is no real substance or nature out there. Instead, we humans create and apply the names (nomina in Latin, hence nominalism) to things and actions out there.

With nominalism, there is ultimately no meaning. There is no purpose. There is only the meaning and purpose that we create in our own hearts. There is no such thing as natural law. We can decide what we want things to be. If we want to change the nomen or definition of “marriage” than we can do so. If we want to change the nomen or definition of good and evil, we can do that, too.

Here’s the final (nominalist) sermon from Into the Woods. I wanted to cover the ears of my dear children when I heard these words sung to a beautiful melody:

“Wrong things, right things …

Who can say what’s true? …

Do things, fight things …

You decide, but …

You are not alone …

Witches can be right.

Giants can be good.

You decide what’s right. You decide what’s good.”

This is the final answer to the pain of the characters. “You decide what’s good.” But that’s the problem. All the bad guys are already playing that game. They have decided what is “right for me” and they are hurting you.

Out of the Woods: Let’s Turn from Nominalism Back to Realism

The opposite of nominalism is realism. Realism holds that there are absolute, non-changing forms, substances, and ideas in the universe. There are natural, pre-established laws that are real and not man-made. Humans don’t get make up their own definitions. There is no “You decide what’s right. You decide what’s good.” Instead, human persons must discover the true definitions within the fabric of a real world. We don’t create meaning and purpose. We discover what was already real before we showed up.

If you’ve jumped ahead of me and have concluded that Nominalism leads to secularism and atheism and that Realism leads to religion and theism, you are very intelligent. You can see past the meta-narrative of Into the Woods.

So let’s get “out of the woods.” The nominalist worldview of the woods that proclaims, “You decide what’s right. You decide what’s good,” is ultimately bleak. It leaves you with the feeling that I had walking out of that movie theatre with my kids.

Question: Have you seen the film yet? What were your thoughts? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Shannon Marie Federoff

    I will take my older teens to see this; just as I watched “Grease” with them and we deconstructed together, afterwards, the pretty, poisoned messages in THAT show, we can also look at what our culture puts forth as “good” and discuss it. Older teens need to have experience understanding what they are up against, and a good adult to reason them through the arguments.

    • Not a bad idea. Our kids aren’t that old yet, but we’ve had some good talks.

    • Adam

      I had plans for the same thing when my kids get old enough. This is why I watch movies like Avatar when their in bed so that I can prep myself for what is being thrown at us. I go in knowing exactly what they are going to throw at me.

  • Don Jr Max

    thanks for this…

  • mc

    Sounds like Frozen

    “No right, no wrong,
    No rules for me,
    I’m freeee”

    Apparently, many bought into that idea

    • mc

      Thanks for this, I hope you make more reviews!

    • Christina

      In Frozen, though, the villain is singing that song, and the whole point of the movie is to show how that that doesn’t work. Anna’s self-sacrifice and Elsa’s re-assumption of her duties in LOVE instead of fear are what is needed, not a selfish self-fulfillment no matter ther cost.

      Don’t miss the point of Frozen!!

      • Sharon R

        Elsa is not a villain. She is portrayed as a victim of her powers. She accidentally causes Anna’s injury as a child, regrets it, and willingly submits to quarantine. She tries to conceal her powers at the coronation ceremony and only freezes the town by accident. She doesn’t even know she froze the town–she finds out later in the movie. She revels in her new-found ability to stop concealing such a big part of herself, but is not malevolent. Elsa’s resistance to Anna’s rescue is driven by reluctance to cause more damage–again, not a villain.

        The lyrics in “Let it Go” clearly exalt moral relativism and define freedom as doing whatever one wants (versus the Catholic definition of freedom as the ability to know and choose the Good.) I haven’t seen “Into the Woods”, but it sounds like it takes the success of “Let it Go” one step further. Make no mistake–Disney has an agenda.

        • Lydia Burris

          Please share about Disney’s agenda. I’m intrigued 🙂

          • accelerator

            There is no overt agenda. But there is a community of secular artists and businessmen creating this stuff, and it reflects their worldview. 20 years ago when the Baptists attempted to boycott Disney, people scoffed because the prudes imagined things like the Prince in “The Litte Mermaid” with a hard on, or “S E X” being written in the clouds in “Lion King.” Silly Baptists! Not that either accusation was earth-shattering. But it turns out they were both true A friend of mine went to work for the studio and met the teams that laughed about how they but those practical jokes in there. The Christians may have over-reacted, yes, but at least the saw what was there. “Frozen’s” main tune is absolutely relativistic, not matter how charming. And Disney may not have an “agenda.” but its films have secular messages. And that is not even going towards the vulgar “Disney Channel,” which should alarm even secular parents.

          • Acab6

            Yes! I’ve wondered how many others have really listened to the words of “Let it Go.”
            Disney has been pushing my limits for years with inuendo and potty humor. But “Into the Woods” had finally gone too far.

        • Dorothy Freck Phillips

          I think you need to be somewhat careful in defining a character based on where they are in the middle of a movie. Where does Elsa end up? What is her frame of mind at the end of the movie compared to when she first allowed herself to accept what she had been given? Do people ever use their God given gifts in a selfish manner before they learn how to truly embrace them in a way that gives glory to God? To look at Elsa in merely that “Let It Go” point of the movie would be like looking at the lives of some of our saints when they were unapologetic sinners and stopping at that point. I think there is a lot of good that can be learned from this movie.

        • Josie McAllister

          But by saying Disney has an agenda, I believe you’re forgetting that Into the Woods originally had nothing to do with Disney.

    • cm

      wow you are missing the whole point of Frozen if you got that out of it. wow.

    • c

      In frozen, that thinking was ultimately upended as Elsa comes to realize that her actions DID cause harm, even when no one was around.

    • MCSF

      Frozen has its values such as finding true love in the family and not merely in the overrated romantic love, being prudent in choosing partners, etc. but as parents or guides of others, we must consciously examine both sides- the threats and the treasures- of any movie. That song had been the favorite of many, let’s face it, and they could got their own meanings from it (i.e. relativism). I have had an experience where my classmate used that song to promote his homosexuality. They could put it out of context and that’s why this article should be taken as a challenge to be critical and to discuss their assessments to their kids or peers or directees.

  • Michael Saltis

    Dr. Marshall, I hope you make a video of this. Very insightful.

  • Fr. Denis Lemieux

    Into the Woods is really not suitable entertainment for children. It’s a Sondheim musical, for crying out loud!
    And the odd thing about that particular song, which comes pretty close to the end of the play/movie, is that it utterly belies the actual story Sondheim has been telling. The characters have all been deciding throughout what is right and good for themselves, and it is has wrought havoc on their lives – death and destruction galore.
    I actually find the play (haven’t seen the movie, and not sure I’ll bother) to be very strong and thought-provoking (and great music), with the exception of that one song. It’s as if Sondheim, having told a story that is completely a critique of the post-modern relativist nihilist world he inhabits, has to throw this song in to keep his musical theatre credentials or something.
    But yes, I would not recommend ITW for young audiences.

    • Calvin Hudson

      You couldn’t possibly be more wrong. Theatre like this is EXACTLY the type of stuff children should be seeing.

      • Nick F.

        Yes, I know my toddler really loved “Sweeney Todd,” and I used “Assassins” in my home school American history lessons. 😀

        (Perhaps you’re being sarcastic and I just missed it. I hope so.)

        • Nick Hebert

          Well, found the problem.
          Your homeschooling your children.
          -a man raised in a bible banging homeschooling home.

          • James Price

            “Your homeschooling your children”

            And you’re a product of government ed?

          • Stratt

            You just questioned what Nick pointed out. No, he was a product of Bible thumping parents.

          • Nick Hebert

            If you bothered to read my whole comment, you’d see that I was raised in a homeschooling home, a Catholic one, unfortunately. So no, in no way shape or form am I a product of any govt. education system, having never been in one.
            Thank you for pointing that out Stratt.

          • Tonya Brown Wright

            *you’re

          • Nick Hebert

            I beg pardon for that indiscretion, and stand corrected.

          • Cristina

            your- you’re

          • Nick Hebert

            Read the thread, corrected.

          • Chris B.

            It should be, “You’re (you are) homeschooling your children.” But I’m sure that was just a typo rather than a product of public school education.

          • Nick Hebert

            I’d actually already tried to correct it, it just didn’t seem to go through. My Internet must have cut out in the middle of saving the edit.

      • Mikko L.

        No. Kids should be shown moral stuff. When they get older, and are capable of truly understanding and appreciating right from wrong, then they can see films like these.

    • chuckschulz

      Isn’t this song ironic? Have you heard Seven Deadly Virtues in Camelot? A song sung from the viewpoint of a flawed character should not be assumed to be authorial voice.

      • zoltan

        It’s one of the final songs – a sort of “wrapping up” of the plot and a few of the characters, who are supposed to have learned something, saying some really dumb morally relativistic things. This is my favorite musical, so I’ve always struggled with this song, but I like Father’s take on the situation.

  • Krissy

    I interpreted that last song a different way. That the witch was condemning each for jumping to conclusions about the Giants, etc. and that they didn’t take time to see if the giant was a good person, just stole from him and decided to kill him when he came for his belongings.

    I took the song to say that it was BAD that each was deciding for themselves what was right and wrong. And in that case, the witch was right. Right as in correct. And even bad people (or witches) can do good things. And that there are two sides to every argument and each side has supporters. That’s how I understood that song.

    • Karen

      Remembering what I felt during the song was that we try to blame everyone else for our mistakes instead of taking responsibility for our actions. Also, we should be careful of judging others on just what we see rather than taking into consideration their circumstances of their decision. Only God can judge what is in a persons heart. For like beauty is in the eye of the beholder so is evil.

      • Rich

        Yes, God *judges* hearts and motives. However, we can and are expected to *discern* things which are objectively evil and refrain from these. Such things are wrong, no matter whether a person agrees or not.

    • Damon B.

      Wait, so, when we hear things we can use our brains to decide and think differently? Weird 🙂

  • LinusPoster

    Disney has been corrupt for a long time since the death of Walt himself. The corporation has large ties into the churn of teen influence marketing and celebrities much like MTV. I recommend and suggest the real Brothers Grimm Fairy tales instead overly marketed emotionalism where everything lands materially perfect. This is why the first Shrek movie had such an impact to audiences, although later Shrek movies delved off the deep end of philosophy as well, mostly into the dictatorship of relativism and nominalism as with everyone else.

    • Julia

      Though the brothers Grimm are old they are not the original versions of any of the fairy/folk tales. They didn’t write the stories, only collected the versions being passed down in their part of the world which were told in a more dark manner. The Disney Cinderella wasn’t a corrupted version it was just based off of the French telling collected by Charles Perrault (just as old). Ironically the oldest recorded version of the Cinderella story (as an example) is actually almost 2000 years old and comes from china.

      Yes there can be poignant lessons from the Grimm tales, but that doesn’t mean that other telling so aren’t just as true or powerful.

  • Nan M

    It is ‘Into the Woods’! – of course Sondheim, even watered down by Disney – is inappropriate for children. Disney (with Sondheim approval) did make changes – not having Rapunzel die, only having the prince ‘kiss’ the baker’s wife, leaving out the baker’s father role (the narrator), taking out the sexual nature of the wolf/red riding hood relationship, changing words to some songs and leaving out other songs. All those changes diluted the message – which with adult conversation can be very thought provoking. What parent would ever take a young child to see this movie? You need to know more about movies – and not just blindly think that because it is Disney – it is ok. Not to mention how some of the best music scoring was deleted. I did not like the movie and would not recommend it.

    • Nick F.

      Thank you for this comparison. Given these changes, I think I’ll pass on the Disney version. It would have been nice to see this list in the main article.

    • accelerator

      A Disney flick…about fairy tales…with songs…marketed at Christmas. What parent would ever take a young child to see it? Seriously? How about what parent could ever again respect Disney after they tried to get young children to be taken to see it!

  • Junnelle

    I disagree. I’m not saying there weren’t skippable moments — I certainly could have done without the baker’s wife scene — but I disagree when you try to fit it under a certain agenda. This is intended for entertainment. Disney has so many aspects to this film, even as you mentioned at the beginning, that are truly enjoyable. And Disney has not switched to a completely feminist perspective — unless you’re using Elsa for 100% of your examples, and even then she was responding from fear inside. She didn’t even have a suitor to spurn. (And her sister did tread the romantic path.) By the way, why would the 50 years of past Disney be the glory days? To my memory we’ve had Snow White, who couldn’t seem to make one un-stupid decision, to Sleeping Beauty, who also was somewhat powerless in her own story and controlled by others. I’d agree with Krissy. The context of the song really fit with the idea that people had jumped to conclusions about the giant, and you also have to allow for the fact that they’re trying to boil down the message into a short song and make the vocab intelligible for the kids going to see it. Is it perfect from a Christian standpoint? No. But that’s like going to a Marvel movie and expecting there to be no action. Disney is secular, and you need to accept the fact that it’s not going to perfectly fit your expectations. What it did manage to do was provide a movie that is a whole lot cleaner than some of the other movies in theaters right now, as well as include several valuable lessons about jumping to conclusions. And hey, it might not be a bad thing if people could realize that blame can generally be divided between participants instead of trying to pin it on a “bad guy/woman.”

    • zoltan

      Snow White ran away from her murderous stepmother and found a group of unthreatening men to live with and care for. She even had the smarts to use woodland animals to help her clean up! I actually really like Snow White’s life, it seemed calm and peaceful. The only bad decision she made was to eat something from a stranger.

  • Henry Craft

    Well, she was a witch. And witches are, well, bad.

    • Cactusflower513

      You are an idiot, it’s a pg 13 movie, so don’t take your children under 13. In the scene with the baker’s wife with the prince it was a dream sequence.

      • Steve

        It’s most definitely not a dream sequence

      • Tabitha

        It’s actually PG.

        • Tabitha

          And also, it was not a dream sequence.

    • Momndani

      Not all witches are evil. Glinda was a good witch. Sabrina was a teenage witch. And lets not forget about Samantha!

  • delurking musical theatre fan

    The mistake is expecting a Disney movie just because Disney made it. Anyone who knows theatre could have told you that Sondheim would not have let them Disney-fy it enough to make it appropriate for children, any more than one would take children to my favorite Sondheim show, Sweeney Todd…. I’m sorry but I really couldn’t read the rest of your review because I knew it was coming from such false expectations – I’m sure you had some good comments to make – I’m just being honest here. Into the Woods is not even a Sondheim show I’m completely comfortable with as an adult to be honest – I’ve turned down chances to audition for community theater productions of it, but I’m just not comfortable enough with it to be in it myself. (yet I would gladly be in Sweeney Todd a musical about a serial killer barber – go figure – but that should tell you something)

    • Nick F.

      It’s almost as if a funny thing happened on the way to the Disney editing room…

    • accelerator

      “The mistake is expecting a Disney movie just because Disney made it.”

      Does not compute. If Disney makes it, it is a Disney flick. The identity marketing is not for nothing.

  • Michael Francis Goodwin

    I saw the big flaw in the message at the end, but I still liked a lot of it. I thought the idea about people all seeking things they wish for have real consequences was refreshing. I also liked how people realize the things they thought would make them happy didnt necessarily. I also think the song after the baker’s wife gets seduced by prince charming is the real pivotal one. It is a real conscience in turmoil moment. She talks about the real world outside the woods and the deceptions of the woods. She resolves to leave the woods but she gets killed by the giant from the “other story”. I like how it does show that living in the woods is bad. That you forget what really makes you happy. Sadly the message doesnt take you there with showing the need for God to make you happy. But the theme of the story helps raise the question of happiness. And the witches closing song about children will listen after earlier singing that they dont is a good story move. The key end line was “The tale you tell is the spell.” The idea that children being told unreal things or utrue things can be damaging to them is a good message to parents. I think it id undermined by that song you mentioned, but I still think there is some good themes running through the movie.

  • Mary

    I agree with you. The movie was strange. The part you reference with the song threw me for a loop.

    I also am unsettled by the death of the bakers wife. It makes no sense. Each character has temptations, each falls for them, but then is saved and comes to the realization that what they did was wrong. The bakers wife is the only one not saved. Why is that?

    • duh

      The baker’s wife had to die so that the baker could be challenged to make the right choice to parent his son instead of running away like his father did when his mother died.

      • Mary

        I see. I feel like they could have done that without killing her character off though.

        • Ted Cald

          …and see, here I am bummed that Rapunzel doesn’t lose her mind only to run off and get squished by the giant, or that the narrator doesn’t get picked up by the giant and thrown to his death…like in the stage musical.
          But all this discussion about taking small children…why would anyone take a small child to a movie with a PG rating without any kind of looking in to the movie first?
          Parental Guidence….it was in the movie but not in the audience, I guess….after all, “I was only trying to be a good mother”

  • Zaundra Neely Dickey

    I was disturbed by the wolf’s and red riding hood’s relationship. The wolf reminded me of a pedophile. Then after reading some of the comments, apparently my supisions were correct. Then the adultry between the prince and the baker’s wife blew my mind. Obviously I am not aware of the broadway production, but definately I would not take a small child to see this show. As for the witch’s song at the end, I took it to mean we all view things differently. One person sees it as bad and others can see it as good, depends on what side you are on. But def surprise about the ending.

    • ScoutHurston

      I thought the wolf/red riding hood relationship was integral to the moral of the story because it warns kids that “though scary is exciting, nice is different from good.” Furthermore, the baker’s wife/Prince storyline forces the Prince to admit that he was “raised to be charming, not sincere.” These stories make both parents and kids think about the meaning of “good,” which is at the heart of any philosophy.

    • Anne

      Dear Zaundra, almost like discarding the 10 Commandments where anything goes – like what Francis is advocating Christians to do – it’s all ‘Relative’, folks. By the way, Francis is the False Prophet of Holy Scripture.

  • Open to Debate

    Well aside from this thinly-veiled overdose of fundamentalism that misrepresents Christians as close minded judges of right and wrong, utilizing a very “bleak”, black and white form of theology; I’d also say you sort of missed the mark in terms of the definition of Realism. The narrative provides us a very believable outcome. It doesn’t sugar coat the sometimes harshness of existence. I also find it interesting that you’ve taken issue with “you decide what’s right, you decide what’s good”, considering that’s literally what you’ve done with this film. You labeled your paragraphs with “What’s Great…” and “What’s Wrong…”. Tricky tricky.

    • duh

      Hahaha brilliant

    • goldushapple

      Interesting, you basically supported moral relativism. Obviously Marshall does not tries to say why. I suggest you and “duh” hold hands together because it’s clear you two cannot make an argument.

      • Open to Debate

        A disagreement doesn’t constitute a stance. I’d hope that in your rather frail and misguided attempt to discredit my opinion you’d at least consider the possibility that the limited scope which the article provides is what I was reacting to and that my statement wasn’t intended to “make an argument” but “Open to Debate” certainly suggests that I’m willing to consider, reconsider, and defend my point if an open minded and well educated individual were to take issue with anything I said.

    • Michael Wright

      This carries my point well. Lost, maybe in the requirements of rhetoric, is that the pitting of Realism versus Nominalism, and the suggestion that each necessarily lead to polarizing outcomes is simplistic. I want my kids to manage and navigate the grey. That requires review of multiple philosophies, but personal responsibility above all.

  • Diane Wilson

    Children who do not question what their teachers/parents/ imams/ rabbis/ priests tell them is right and what is wrong are the suicide bombers of tomorrow. “The imam/ priest/ rabbi told me that that is what God wants me to do so he must be right. God wants the priest to fiddle with my genitals. God wants me to become a martyr with a suicide bomb God told the rabbi that homosexuals are evil and so on and so forth. Questioning is healthy and necessary for survival.

    • KC64

      If there is no right answer about morality, then whatever answer you come up with after asking your questions can by definition be no more right than whatever your teachers, parents, imams, rabbis, or priests tell you.

      • Diane Wilson

        KC64 I think that by questioning,an intelligent person can feel what is right and wrong. Some of the information they get feels right and some of it feels wrong. The combination of instinct and intelligence and questioning is what is required. Organised religion is a great evil in the world because it is so abused by those in a position of power to influence the gullible.

        • Sharon R

          Let me get this straight. Intelligent people “feel” what’s right and wrong? What if intelligent people (however you define that) disagree in their emotional discernment of right and wrong?

          • goldushapple

            Don’t confuse the troll. It’ll just anger her and will confuse her even more. Remember, you must keep things simple, as in “feelings.” Feelings all day, everyday and twice on Sunday.

        • goldushapple

          >>feel what is right and wrong

          Tell that to Hitler.

          >>Organised religion is a great evil in the world because it is so abused by those in a position of power to influence the gullible.

          Typical. You flash the “intelligence” card, then go ran about talking points in your post then say organized religion is “a great evil in the world.”

          Look, for your basing your argument on talking points then I’m left to conclude you do not inhibit the intelligent sphere you advocate. In other words you’re a poser.

          • Open to Debate

            *inhabit*

    • goldushapple

      The heck? I see the trolls have found this article. Typical.

    • accelerator

      Utter nonsense. Like the ballyhooed “Question authority.” Why?

  • The thinker

    What a fabulous intelligent and insightful article. Aptly describing a (movie) a wolf in sheep’s clothing!

  • Nancy

    I loved the movie and so did my almost 8 year old grand child. The other family members, (6 others including grandpa, and his brother) didn’t like the movie and thought it was lame. I enjoyed very much talking to Cana about why we do not decide what is right or wrong. We talked about how Jesus is our guide. Truth does matter. Truth is not someone’s opinion. We had a great discussion.

  • s proctor

    Wow! Thank you for your review. Most enlightening.

  • Dan Harris

    What about Depp’s paedophiliac wolf? Truly creepy!

    • ScoutHurston

      I thought the wolf/red riding hood relationship was integral to the moral of the story because it warns kids that “though scary is exciting, nice is different from good.” Although it is clearly a representation of pedophilia, it handles the topic in a very responsible way. Depp’s character (a literal predator) is never cast in a sympathetic or acceptable light. Red is a victim, but can heal from the experience and learn a lesson from it. Since kids are vulnerable to bad people in real life, it’s nice to see an adaptation of a fable that can help protect them.

    • zoltan

      To be fair, it’s supposed to be creepy. Young women especially shouldn’t trust any man with a good story about all the great things he can show her about life. It’s about resisting seduction and the dangers of cads.

  • Jillian McGregor

    I viewed the last song’s point as not “you decide what’s good” but “no one is alone”. The song is sung to comfort Red Riding Hood, whose mother and grandmother have been killed. With no parents to guide her, Cinderella tells Red that she must make her own decisions now, but she is not by herself, a thought that is both a comfort to her and a warning that her decisions can affect others.

  • Suzanne Graf Slupesky Beck

    I saw the play years ago and thought then that the first half was simply wonderful, followed by the ick, depressing 2nd half. So no real interest in wasting money on the movie!

    • Foster

      I also saw the play years ago in High School. In the play version, Sondheim kills off the narrator in the depressing second half you mention. To top off the moral relativism– “right and wrong don’t matter in the woods,” I saw this as essentially a Nietzschian “God is Dead” statement. The whole thing is at bottom nihilistic. It’s really a pity Disney had to soil themselves with it, pretty melodies though there were, just rings in a pig’s nose.

    • Rebecca S.

      I saw the play performed recently with my 13 year old and totally agree with you about the first half (hilarious and fun). We both agreed the play could have stopped there. The second half just got muddy and confusing and dragged us down with it. And I’m just speaking as a storyteller.

    • Damon B.

      Then you missed the entire point of the movie.

  • anne

    you are aware that this is a film adaptation of a critically acclaimed, very sophisticated Sondheim musical…not a Disney cartoon with an ending that is up for grabs? Should you have known that before taking your young children? perhaps.

  • Kat

    I saw it, I didn’t know it was a musical, I don’t like musicals… So right from the get go I was turned off… after the prince kiss the Bakers wife we left, long and tedious. It’s a NO.

  • Michele

    So dark. I loved the music and the 1st half of it. No way should children see this. Kinda sorry I did. Depressing and dark does not equal entertainment.

  • Keith Schooley

    I’m more disturbed by the fact that a philosophy professor naively took his children to a movie just because it’s Disney, and apparently didn’t know that this was a musical by the same guy who wrote Sweeney Todd. Or did he assume that Disney was going to Bowdlerize it for him?

    • Mater

      Yes.

    • tom toenjes

      LOL

    • julie

      agreed!

    • ReaganGirl

      It’s rated PG. Not R, not PG-13… but PG. Apparently, the ratings mean nothing any more. It doesn’t matter WHO wrote the original; if Disney adapted it to a PG rated film and is marketing it to children, then perhaps one could be allowed to think that it had been sanitized a bit.

      • 501Venus

        Once upon a time, my mother & I went to see a movie ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ that was inappropriately labeled PG. It was supposed to be rated R. How do ‘I’ know this? The poster was hanging in my elementary school cafeteria wall. My mother & I saw it together. Seeing naked men & women having adulterous copulation in fields, woods & schools well, was a quite bit shocking.

        I rarely if ever go to a movie I didn’t investigate to know if not only if I ‘could’ like it, but it fits within what I like. I don’t like horror movies or very black comedies. I never was one for Woody Allen, nor am I one to like pranksters in the vein as ‘Animal House’. When a movie typically costs $10.25 & up in my area, I want to ensure I don’t get stuck in a movie I definitely won’t like.

        When parents are spending money in gas, food & tickets they need to investigate to ensure it’s not something they will be surprised about. Disney did market this wrongly. The commercials were misleading thinking this was in the same vein & mindset as ‘Frozen’. This was a darker & deeper sentiment than the usual light hearted fare they produce. The humor was lost in the filming.

  • keepout

    I stopped supporting Hollywood decades ago by not going to ANY movies. I feel these people are responsible for the decline of morals in our society and I am not going to give them my time or my money as this is implicit endorsement of the type of immorality and otherwise they are attempting to shove down our throats. If parents are smart they would keep their kids out of movie theaters.

    • Summer

      I tend to agree. When I do find a movie that doesn’t endorse relative morality or worse- immorality, though- I buy it and recommend it. I think withdrawing from the fight against Hollywood isn’t as helpful to our society as doing your part to show support for what we DO want.

  • Catherine Hooper

    Well done review. We couldn’t wait for the movie to end so we could escape.

  • Alanna

    There is nothing “right and wrong” with the movie itself. Fairy Tales have been predominately been held by stock characters which we have been shown, that person is good, that person is evil, and often good triumphs over evil. “The oldness” of this is clear and Disney is catering to that by recently changing things up a bit. There is a bit of brute honesty on how there is sin in the world (adultery). However, it shows that “good” people such as the bakers wife or “bad” such as a witch or a giant are not always what they seem. When the Giants met Jack, they fed him and took care of him, yet he stole from them. The world is full of sin, we know this and children know this. The “blame game” does not solve anything.
    The fact it being up to us to decide what is “right”, does not mean we are changing the meaning of what is wrong and what is right. It means what is happening does not fall into neat categories. There may be times YOU will have to choose via the Principle of Double Effect. There can be “bleakness” however is that not the point of Christianity, that we can rise from bleakness and sin?

  • I dream of Rome

    Thank you Taylor
    You described perfectly the movie and the reasons for profound disappointment in it and in Disney!

    We saw it w/ our grown daughters and 4 grandchildren . Ages 7, 11,15,19
    During the duet inthe waterfall the 7 year old
    Ella leaned over to her mom
    And asked in total frustration “WHO is Agony????”
    Awful movie!
    Suzzy Payne
    Elderly Catholic Convert

    • Wait.

      You’re mad at the movie because your 7 year old granddaughter didn’t know a word?

  • Liz

    All I get from this is the parent didn’t do the research. The Disney film is based on the stage musical if he wants to watch the stage version he can see some questionable costume choices his daughters wont understand. I think it sounds like Disney stays pretty true to the stage version which makes me more exited to see it. My advice do your research before doing a review next time, just to make sure your missing some pretty critical info. It doesn’t effect his final argument a great deal, but it sure does take the power out of it when you know the original premiered in 1987.

  • Tim Jones

    You took the lyrics completely out of context. The song “No One Is Alone” is considered one of the best songs in musical theatre. It is written for children, telling them that it is not always happy endings and not everything is as it seems. This musical is one of the greatest musicals of all time and though there are some mature themes, it states this clearly in the rating for the movie and there are websites filled with synopses. But I refuse to let someone stomp on one of the best musicals of all time written by the greatest composer of musicals simply because it does not conform to your views.

    • goldushapple

      So fingers in your ears, Tom, and shouting “La la la la what did you say?”

      • Stephanie

        Why do you feel the need to be correct? And simultaneously be a bit of a bully? There’s nothing wrong with being a Sondheim fan. In fact, that means those of us who are have actually studied HIS lectures, the play, lyrics , etc, in great detail. Just as you have a right to be critical, we have the right to to criticize your criticism. So shut your ignorant mouth, you fool.

  • Stephanie

    As a theatrician, Sondheim enthusiast, and I will admit NOT a student of philosophy, I find your review to be rather skewed. I will admit that while I was overall pleased with the final adaptation of this beautiful story, it left a lot of important themes untouched. For instance, when the giant wife meets with the large lot of characters in the original script, three people die within those 10 minutes. Sondheim immediately and completely severs the fairy tale from the horrific and unjust realism.
    Afterwards, Little Red tells the Witch she doesn’t think (ultimately) killing Jack would be right, nor would killing the giant to get rid of her. The following dialogue ensues:

    Witch: Since when are you so squeamish? How many wolves have YOU carved up?
    Red: A wolf’s not the same
    Witch: Ask a wolf’s mother.

    That last line just HITS you. You realize the story is not about right or wrong in black in white but in finding the perspective of others and acting accordingly.
    “No One is Alone” isn’t some dangerous “make your own reality” theme. Its a song stating that life is tough, not just for you but for the people around you. And people will have different perspectives but you have to find it in your heart to make the right decision, and when you do “someone is on your side.”
    I am so very sorry, sir, that your view sees this perspective on life as too radical. Especially as you have children of your own who should have the right, and ultimately will, listen. To every little thing you say and, more importantly, do not say.

    • goldushapple

      But The Witch falls into a trap: Relativism. In fact, with all the intricate details of morals this is where Lapine screws up.

      Even with perspective, when The Witch pulls the “ah, but the wolf’s mother … ” card she does not strengthen her position. The wolf seduced and ate the grandmother and Little Red, only to be rescued by the baker. In fact, the wolf is a liar – tricking Red that he was Granny.

      It wasn’t Little Red who killed the wolf, but the baker & grandmother. The grandmother, in her twilight years, admits that the wolf is evil whose life should be erased. The wolf’s belongings weren’t stolen like the giant – who had every right to be offended and to be angry, as with his wife. The wolf committed evil and paid for it with his life. The wolf’s mother’s feelings are irrelevant.

      >>”No One is Alone” isn’t some dangerous “make your own reality” theme.

      Actually, it kinda is alluding to it. You basically said, though indirectly, with the “find it in your heart to make the right decision.” Who said the heart was the barer of truth? You? The heart?

  • Sharon Jerkovic

    I don’t think that anyone deciding what’s right, wrong, good or evil has any effect on cosmic law. We come here and live many different lives on this planet and learn our lessons accordingly. If we make a decision that does not adhere to cosmic law, then we pay for it. Yes! I believe in reincaration! That is how we all live and make mistakes and learn from them! Hence, ” Into The woods” everyone!!
    Sharon J

  • Jay Plowy

    I was left empty. First I did not know this was a musical. In all commercials for the movie there was no singing or indication that this was a musical. I love musicals and have almost all the top musicals CD’s and videos. This movie has no real musical score that you can sign along with. To try to inter-weave all past beautiful stories does a disservice to this and all the other past glorious movies. It shows how shallow the movie studios are in making really excellent movies with new and refreshing subject matter. There was no life to this movie. If it wasn’t for the great cast the movie would have been a total failure. The message of adultery was repugnant.

    • Stephanie

      It’s not a message of adultery…yes, it happened within the realm of the story but the musical was in no way condoning it. Please think carefully before criticizing a piece of art (yes ART) that has already been around for several decades.

  • Passion Pit

    I must be honest: I don’t like this article. What bothers me most out of this post is a dilapidation of an argument due to extremism and slippery slope fallacies. Plus, the notion that all atheists subscribe to nominalism combined with the inference in your argument that nominalism leads to anybody justifying anything as good or bad purely because they want reminds me of a common trope among religious that atheists live by their own morals and are thus immoral, which is not true at all.

    I also think that maybe you’ve jumped onto the religious “Secularism is brainwashing our kids!” trope here. I think that looking too deeply into the song, and cherry-picking a few lyrics, you’ve missed what the song was really about: not so much about ideology as people. It’s a message that we can equate to meaning that some good people will do bad things, and some bad people will do good things, and in this world it’s up to us how to decide who’s lying and who’s honest, because simply being a good person doesn’t guarantee all your actions are good. Similarly, we’re bound to trust the wrong person sometimes, and when that happens we feel like we’re alone, because trust has been broken. But in the end, and this is the take-home message, we should be more trusting despite the risk of pain, because we’re all experiencing our own problems, and being more trusting overall can help everyone with their problems in life, hence the title, “You are not alone.” (Notice it’s not “You decide what’s right.”).

    I should clarify that I’m not anything philosophy- or literature-based. I’m a science student, but I’d love to hear your response. Thanks.

  • Patricia

    I went online tonight because I was trying to understand what others thought about this. Did you see the stage production? …. I was sad about one of the most poignant songs being cut…. Please listen to “No More”. I say that to you because I truly believe it tied things together….. and that’s where they missed the mark. I love musicals but am more a believer in “real” life! I wish I knew you ….. I would have said….. Don’t bring your kids! Even Disney cannot take away the dark side of this one.

    I only chimed in because after about 22 reviews I read…… You are spot on….. but I think this is one that you live and learn from. Was able to see it on Broadway when it opened and got to play Cinderella shortly there after, so I’m a bit passionate about this story…… I also understand how people question it! On that note I am going to sleep. I would love to chat more to give you things to share with your children…… tva3@aol.com

    Once again……. Thank You for the best online review!

  • Evan

    I’ve always interpreted that song differently. The entire storyline is about the characters deciding
    what’s right for themselves, and as a result creating the huge mess they are in at the end. And then these morally flawed characters give the best advice they can think of: remember you’re not alone and your actions affect everyone, so when you decide what to do, don’t think of just yourself.

    The moral of Into the Woods is: careful what you do and say, because children will listen and learn. Or, in other words, our actions have consequences, and while straying from the path (i.e. sinning) is an inevitable part of our nature, we should always remember our sins affect everyone, not just ourselves.

  • mathrules

    If you had time to write the review you should have taken the time to read what the story was about. Personally, I think it was to sell your books.

  • T-Saw

    I completely agree! I am also a teacher. I have seen this show several times, and the movie twice – one of those times with some of my college students. I felt that same twinge or cringe as those words were being sung – every time. Thank you for articulating this so well. This is like “cocaine-laced candy” which can be life threatening to all of us, if we are not discerning.

  • Tesla

    First, Disney didn’t come up with this story. Somdheim did. Disney did not change anything from the 80’s Broadway musical. Go watch the Brenadette Peters version. Second, this type of secularism isn’t new, but it’s becoming kore and more a realistic view of what our society is.

  • TheAtomicMom

    I have loved Into the Woods since it came out in 1987 on Broadway. It’s a complex show, just like life is very complex. What has sort of caught me by surprise is all of the comments and outraged blog posts like this one popping up. Do people no longer investigate the shows their children watch before they take them to the movies? I am also surprised that people still think that Disney is a family friendly company, they are not, and have not been for a long time. In the end, it’s “buyer beware”. I loved the movie, and I thought the ending was great, because life is not ever a “happily ever after” and sometimes you do have to just figure it out as you go along, and while I believe in absolute truths, I know many people do not, and that’s ok. In the end, it’s just a movie, not a life lesson. Sorry you were disappointed, but at the same time, you should have researched this before you took your children to see it.

  • Klmr

    I usually avoid the com-box, since in my opinion it is basically where social appropriateness and manners go to die, but I really could not let this lie without a few points.
    1. Into the Woods is not and never has been a children’s show. It doesn’t matter how many high schools perform act one alone or that It has the Disney stamp on it, it is not how it was written or intended.
    2. It is fairly clear that you are not familiar with the stage show. The book is nearly flawless in the craft of storytelling. The biggest problem I see is the one you pointed out in “No One Is Alone.” However, if you were familiar with the stage show you would know that the song actually ends with the Baker’s Wife’s introduction into the finale. This portion really changes the tone and message of the song, leading into Children Will Listen and an uplifting reprise of Into the Woods that is focused on hopefulness.
    3. I continue to be confused as to why the old sanitized versions of fairy tales by Disney are preferred to the original stories. My understanding of the history of fairy tales is that they are usually cautionary in nature. Clearly, the telling of particular stories should be adjusted to the child’s age. Yes, happy endings are lovely, but just because a story doesn’t end “happily ever after,” doesn’t mean it isn’t a good story. Once again, the story we are talking about isn’t a children’s story.
    4. I could provide you with a pros and cons list of the show, as compared to the original, but that isn’t particularly useful right now. What you should know is that what you saw was highly edited and truncated. Yes, feel free to offer your opinion on the movie, but know that you are missing a lot of story and beauty of the show because of the way the studio chose to portray the musical.

  • Ktk

    Uh, you know this isn’t a kid’s movie right?

  • The Baker

    I find your assesment that “Disney” is changing the fairytale narrative when this musical has been around for over 20 years.

  • Wtf

    How dare a movie suggest people need to think for themselves… And there are different perspectives. BLASPHEMY.

    • KP3243

      There is nothing wrong with thinking for yourself as long as egoism has been subordinated, only then can authentic thinking happen.

  • Josh Wilson

    *sigh* Aristotelian nominalism is not the equivalent of — nor a slippery slope to — postmodern relativism. This author’s interpretation of both message and content is misleading.

  • Eoghain

    It’s not escapism, Doc. It’s irony. It’s evasion, deceit, and delusion. It’s not the characters telling you and your daughters how the world goes and from where meaning and truth and reality arise. It’s flawed people revealing their flaws, ironic both in that we see them (as you point out) and that they resolve to follow the same approach to the world and similar activities as what brought their tragedies in the first place.

  • sue

    The Disney adaptation of Into the Woods that is in theaters now is very similar to Sondheim’s original 1987 stage production with a few changes to make it “kid-friendly”. Knowing & understanding the story like you discovered is a spring board to talking about how the world struggles to follow the 10 commandments. Temptation & sin surround us as we leave home and go out Into the Woods. We choose our path and have to live with the consequences of our actions. Thank God for the Catholic Church, forgiveness, & Reconciliation. But perhaps most 11 – year-olds are not in immediate need of such reality.

  • Drew Harrison

    While I do believe that relative ethics definitely is not the true code to live by, I do not think that you should be too hard on Into The Woods. Based on prior Disney movies, I think that we as an audience came into the movie understanding that Disney would not portray a Christian perspective. And that is completely ok. Many Disney movies do indeed give us a shallow sense of a “happily ever after” narrative. We grow up and find out it’s a little more complicated than that. Having said that, I do not believe that this movie was promoting nominal-ism in the way that you say it does. Rather than “making up” your own ethics based on your experiences, I propose that the movie says that you find out the truth based on your experiences. It is true that many things are black and white and should be. But the reason that we are different is because we make different choices in life. Does this mean that the truths we discover for ourselves conflict with Christianity? Not necessarily. I think one should see these kinds of movies and, if it leads to this, use it as a teaching opportunity for their children.

  • Steve in Toronto

    Haven’t see the film yet but saw the play years ago and found it very moving (the soundtrack is spectacular) and am looking forward to sharing it with my precocious 11 year old daughter who is very into fairy tails both old ,new and revisionist. I don’t have your philosophical sophistication but from my memory the story was more of a realist critique of the classic fairy tale “happy ending”. The actions in the first act (good and bad) all bear fruit in the second half of the film and its basically about frail human being making the best of their bad decisions. I don’t think this is a bad message for mature children.

  • Ricardo Barrera

    I am appalled at this man’s so called “critical review.” Critical analysis, and critical thinking involves no bias and a presentation of facts. His proclimation how he loved it at first, and should buy stock in Disney, does not illustrate him being free of bias and treating the work objectively. It illustrates that he only liked the “happy ever after” version of the story. Which in the musical version is only the first act. To top it off, he throws around his philosophy credentials and spews out philosophical terminology to come across as an enlightened person. I mean, call a spade a spade. If you want to write a review to inform parents that the subject matter is complex, and you should be warned it might spawn questions in the mind of your offspring — then do just that. Don’t cloak it under the guise of piece of “critical analysis,” when it is not.

    • Marjohna

      You completely invented that definition of critical review and then bashed the author for not following what you invented.

      crit·i·cism

      (krĭt′ĭ-sĭz′əm)

      n.

      1. The act of criticizing, especially adversely.

      2. A critical comment or judgment.

      3.

      a. The practice of analyzing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating literary or other artistic works.

      b. A critical article or essay; a critique.

      c. The investigation of the origin and history of literary documents; textual criticism.

      American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.criticism (ˈkrɪtɪˌsɪzəm)

      n

      1. the act or an instance of making an unfavourable or severe judgment, comment, etc

      2. (Art Terms) the analysis or evaluation of a work of art, literature, etc

      3. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) the analysis or evaluation of a work of art, literature, etc

      4. (Art Terms) the occupation of a critic

      5. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) the occupation of a critic

      6. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) a work that sets out to evaluate or analyse

      7. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) Also called: textual criticism the investigation of a particular text, with related material, in order to establish an authentic text

  • Marjohna

    So, Sondheim is better at facing reality than the middle ages folk who created the original tales? What a joke. These stories were their literature about their lives and how they saw them and lived them, and, just a guess, I bet they were better at dealing with the hard knocks and ambiguity of life than Sondheim had any idea about. …and yes their answers were that there are absolutes of right and there is a Christian happily ever after attached to personal alignment with it. I can’t stand writers who cannot come up with their own narrative and so they pervert someone else’s to cover their own irrelevance. …hated the stage show years ago – still hate it, and hold onto your seats, here is where I decide good and bad for myself, I couldn’t care less about awards and critics.

  • Zh

    It’s interesting that you point out the lack of “Happy Endings” in Disney films of late, but later go on to point out realism. The world is a cruel, evil, place, with happy endings being more perception than actuality. Perhaps rather than seeking entertainment that simply idealizes a “Christian perspective” for your daughters you should teach them the reality that people want to believe in “Happy Endings” and will do anything to trick themselves or convince themselves; that we tell ourselves narratives (after the Christian perspective is another narrative even if it is the correct one) in order to justify our own sinful and fallen existence. Teach your children to question things, rather than asserting what you perceive to be absolute truth rather than allowing that truth to assert itself as it always does.

    Also, without feminism happy endings for women would be even less then of the past. Thought you might want to know that.

    • goldushapple

      >>It’s interesting that you point out the lack of “Happy Endings” in
      Disney films of late, but later go on to point out realism.

      Marshall goes wrong when he wrongly assumes that because it is Disney it will be like the animated films he is accustomed to. He does not show any prior knowledge of ITW’s source material.

      >>Perhaps rather than seeking entertainment that simply idealizes a “Christian perspective” for your daughters

      It seems you’re irritated by the “Christian perspective.” Marshall has every right to be concerned on what his young daughter consume as entertainment.

      >>you should teach them the reality that people want to believe in “Happy Endings” and will do anything to trick themselves or convince themselves; that we tell ourselves narratives (after the Christian perspective is another
      narrative even if it is the correct one) in order to justify our own sinful and fallen existence.

      Ah, but you trip when you say “after the Christian perspective is another narrative even if it is the correct one.” If the Christian perspective is the correct view then no other narrative can hold up as strongly, no matter how interesting or seductive. This frames the right vs wrong debate.

      This is not meant to censor or to banish different perspective but to view them as inferior and to engage in discussion on why such views are inferior , wrong and sometimes a waste of time to toy with.

      >>Teach your children to question things, rather than asserting what you perceive to be absolute truth rather than allowing that truth to assert itself as it always does.

      >>Also, without feminism happy endings for women would be even less then of the past.

      So feminism saved the woman? So with your reasoning the first time feminism came to literature there was a “happy ending”?

    • KP3243

      We are people of hope. We see and experience the world differently. It sends a bad message if a theme that nothing ever works out and people should never get too happy because is tragedy and disappointment are always looming around the corner much like the decades of Disney Happily Ever After sent an equally bad message and is also not reality.

  • goldushapple

    The Soundheim fanboys and modernists found this article. Too bad they sound like fools.

  • 501Venus

    It’s been written this is not the original play. Songs were changed or cut, characters lived, witches suddenly disappear without strong rationale. There was a common theme that went throughout the musical, here it is lost. Musicals in person & in screen lose some of their ‘essence’. They aren’t necessarily as funny, because movie eye isn’t as forgiving as a theater eye, there is more left to the imagination along with don’t have to go into as much detail. The stage can be many settings yet if filmed can’t be allowed as the eye won’t like it to be. We never saw the giant husband or wife only imagined them. We liked the baker & his wife & laughed at their little quirks & retorts.

    This play was written during the AIDS epidemic when if you were diagnosed with it, meant there was a high morbidity rate so one usually died from it. This play was written up many times as a metaphor to those dying. A modern day fairy tale with warnings of sticking to the straight & narrow, not getting enticed for a dalliance and knowing who they were & what they wanted. Mothers trying to keep their daughters from going for the wild & reckless types of guys were seen as witches for being so controlling.

    Disney I’m not 100% sure they needed to do this film. Why? First off, this isn’t for the young. It’s not a fairytale like Frozen. It’s fractured fairy tales from the stage.Same rationale Sesame Street or the Muppets should do Avenue Q. Fairy tales in this case didn’t come true the way we all wished it. Jack loses his mother, the witch loses Rapunzel, Cinderella loses the image of being rescued, the baker gets a son but loses his wife. Disney wants the happily ever after and here well it’s hurricane katrina, an earthquake and a war pounce on the fairy tales.

  • Larry Johnston

    You’re a professor? I think you missed the point of the show! And for crying out loud, it’s NOT Disney! It’s Sondheim! I think the rating was wrong, it really should’ve been PG13. If you’d done your homework you’d know of the ‘adultness’ of the play… and why then would you take your 11 year olds? In my opinion, it wasn’t smart or good parenting!

  • Pat Belanger

    I agree with your take on this movie – saw it this afternoon with my nine year old granddaughter. Very disappointed with the second half. Streep, however, was amazing!

  • Tony

    Garbage can be had much cheaper, if you pick stuff from your neighbor’s cans, or the nearest dumpster. Most of what’s in the dumpster will be a lot less pernicious to your body than Disney is to your kid’s imagination, mind, and soul.

  • Mary

    It’s a wonderful movie. Now remember ITS JUST A MOVIE!! Get over yourself and stop telling people how horrible it was when it wasn’t. So stop your preaching. It was just a movie.

  • evan

    lol.

    he rips nominalism for creating and applying names to things

    which is funny cause natural law (which he wistful notes is abandoned in nominalsim) talks of laws that are “universally” (LOL) agreed upon

    if you put 10 nat law theorists in the same room, you will get 11 deferent versions of nat law.

    he rips disney for going away from the happily ever after ending

    and then he wants to go away from nominalism to realism. But he admits that life is messy sooooo how does happily ever after fit in w/ his vision of realism?

    and is he a critic of cheap sermonizing at the end of movies or just cheap secular sermonizing? Cause the ending to his post was an incredible example of cheap sermonizing.

    And one helpful piece of advice, I guess I’d do a bit of googling on the source material that has been out for decades b/f i took my kids to see the movie.

  • John

    All in all I enjoyed the film. When leaving I did feel as if something was amiss. I shrugged it off as the discrepancy between comments near the end of the tale of “not killing giants” to the killing of the widowed giant.

  • Marvin the Martian

    “Jack in the Beanstalk”
    I think you mean ‘Jack AND the Beanstalk’ ….get it right or else I cannot take your review seriously.

  • Peter Dunn

    I have to admit, I didn’t think too deeply about the film. I had a hard time staying awake. However, I’d describe it as a hot fairytale mess – very loosely contrived based on the stories we grew up with, but changed in bizarre ways to somehow put a merciful end to the story after more than 2 hours. (It was way too long and drawn out). I was amused by the fact that Little Red Riding Hood had an American-English accent, but Johnny Depp’s wolf used a British accent??? Avoid this movie if your young daughter will let you!

  • Dan England

    Thanks for the review. I agree with your thoughts about right and wrong is not a vote that people can choose, non can people choose the consequences. My college son look a theology class and that was one of the view points they spent a lot of time discussing. It was hard for the college kids to see the flaw in the concept, bringing it up in a Disney movie could make it a real life for kids if the parents don’t talk with their kids afterwards.
    On another point you made, why do so many movies and tv shows need to confuse good an bad. It is hard enough to teach right and wrong without popular shows pointing out all the good in something wrong. I understand there is some good in bad things and bad in good but why point out only the little bit of good in something that normally will not good for most people.

  • Tomas

    So called “Realism” Is, in my view, simply another kind of “nominalism.” “The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao.
    The
    name that can be named is not the eternal name.”
    In my experience, the Truth is not an abstract philosophical concept.
    Jesus declared, “I am the truth.” The path to the truth is not the
    construction of the “correct” paradigm for interpreting everyday life.
    Rather, it is the death of the “interpreter,” so that Christ becomes
    everyday life. Gal 2:20

  • markstoddard

    Existentialism fits this bill too. The earthlings have no divine morality or code so make . It up as they go along. And that is pervasive and sad in our society. Good review. I saw it on Broadway and got stuck seeing it at a high school. Weak show. Pathetic story. Dullest of Sondheim’s music. And the theme song is so trivial and repetitive I want to scream right now.

  • Disney Fan

    Worst Disney film ever, just a bad opera, didn’t make sense, ruined the original stories, dozed off twice during the film, to much death and sin, really a three night ball,,the cow dieing,adultery,what a mishmass of crap.

    • Matt Richardson

      Wow your one narrow minded individual…

  • Amy

    I was very surprised Disney made this into a PG movie – because people have had issues with Into the Woods since Sondheim wrote it. I agree it is not a story meant for children, but I disagree that this exploration of the grey in life is nominalism and that the play is actually preaching “you decide what’s right.” Into the Woods needs to be approached like you would take any text you are analyzing: hollistically.

  • Geoff Tipley

    I’m reading a novel (Iota) set in a Soviet prison camp in 1945. Part of the story is showing the consequences of what happens to people’s ethics when they decide that God does not exist.

    “Even in the story of Hansel and Gretel, the stepmother and the witch could be defended as doing what was necessary for survival in a time of famine. Yet for centuries, the witch was considered to be evil. Only in the last century would anyone suggest otherwise.”

    The shape of things yet to come from Disney? Good is bad, bad is good?

  • Calvin Hudson

    This is why extreme academics have no business critiquing your analyzing works of art. It seems that film went completely over your head. You have a problem with the message of “you decide what’s good” but that is exactly what you’re doing with this article, deciding what’s good and what’s bad. You’re so caught up in your philosophical/professor ego that you can’t see the first for the trees. Also, what kind of parent takes their children to see a movie, does zero research on the content (as you obviously did not), then complains about the outcome? I hope your daughters enjoyed the film (meaning I hope you didn’t have a long-winded controlling conversation with them on the ride home about why Daddy says they should ignore the content) because there are inumerable messages contained within “Into the Woods” that they so desply need to hear.

  • Trudi Kerkstra

    So first off the screen adaptation was just like the broadway musical in having 2 halves to the story. The first is all the wishes coming true then the second half showing life isn’t always happy endings. That being said sati g witches can be right and giants can be good is a metaphor for not judging people by their appearance. Not to mention you decide what’s right and you decide what’s good is saying you don’t have to follow popular opinion or do what society says. As a Christian I love this because my opinion may kit be popular but I get to decide not society. I feel that you’ve watched this movie looking for something to judge. Look again and be truly open to the ideas that maybe things aren’t always what they seem.

  • Mimi

    I was distressed that Disney marketed this for kids. It’s not a kids’ movie just because of the philosophy. I wish parents would do their homework and read lots of reviews. Glad for parents who take the time to deconstruct.

  • Andrea Nite Calvo

    Due respect – I think you missed the point of the song. The line goes, “you decide alone, but no one is alone.” The meaning is that you are not alone even though it may sometimes feel that way, and that you might have decided incorrectly when you arbitrarily decided something was good or right. “Witches can be right Giants can be good” – be careful about first appearances – and the whole scene with the Prince – well that’s a perfect lesson for a young girl: don’t be fooled by wealth and a pretty face. Cinderella should have trusted her instincts about that guy but she gave in because it’s every girls fantasy to be a princess. The problem with the movie isn’t the message, it’s that we are conditioned not to think to deeply about such things. This musical requires more than surface level platitudes about adultery and happily ever after.

  • Literate Scribe

    This is a very helpful review for my family. In fact, we have an 11 year old as well. We have grown very wary of what they are viewing in the media. this review is immensely lucid, and reveals the material being presented by Disney from the perspective we are seeking.

    • Andrea Nite Calvo

      Except that it completely misses the point of the movie.

      • Literate Scribe

        Well, nevertheless, that was an adequate assessment for this family. The fact that a dad could explain to his daughter that, yes, this woman is committing adultery, and be able to intelligently point out the lack of morals being displayed by the writer(s) (albeit as all too often Hollywood does; in its a glamorous and fanciful manner, all the bells and whistles) he cut to the point without being seduced by said bells and whistles. <> Mmm, nah, don’t think so. So much of the New Age precepts are audacious enough to assert that we, as fallible human beings, can “create our own reality”. Sadly when many humans do so, a large percentage of them wind up in our heavily populated prison system. Well, again, eloquently put, Dr. Marshall. Again, thank you also for pointing out that a dad really can be even in a subtle and sophisticated way, his daughters’ hero.

        • Andrea

          It’s not an adequate assessment precisely because it misses the point. When we as Christians twist things and call them morally wrong based on our own wrong interpretation we just end up looking silly. It is in fact the number one problem people have with the church today – they want to call everything evil instead of having the hard conversations. I agree with what Dr. Marshall has to say about the dangers of nominalism. But this movie isn’t that. I urge you to read Tyler Smith’s comment above. He put it quite elegantly. I think we have to be more careful about “condemning the world” lest we be written off as irrelevant when it really counts.

  • katietaylor

    Oh good grief. So many things wrong with this. First of all, this was based off of a play. Did you not know that and think Disney just randomly came up with it? Also, what parent with a normal functioning brain just takes his or her child to a movie without reading the reviews? It’s mind boggling to me that any parent in 2015 who has strict opinions on what his or her child sees will just walk blindly into a theater. No, I wouldn’t take my eight-year-old to see this movie because I know how to physically do a quick google search. I also wouldn’t take my young child to les mis. Anything based off a play is usually much more iffy to take children to. How do you not know this? Also, blaming feminism for an adult play is about just as stupid as blaming it on the civil rights movement. It is an adult play with an adult theme, and there are a ton of other movies out there with much worse messages. Next time your children ask to see a movie, do the normal responsible thing of RESEARCHING before you take out your anger and foolishness on a blogpost. It’s YOUR fault, not the writers. Grow up.

  • Angelgram

    Though we were thoroughly enjoying the movie until then, we agreed, and turned to each other with a question, especially during the song you quoted. I liked the movie, but i didn’t like what they are teaching children and adults.

  • While I completely understand the point of view expressed in this article, and won’t attempt to refute it (because I believe it’s a completely valid interpretation), my own interpretation is quite different. In my view “Into the Woods” (more particularly the stage version, but also in many ways the Disney film), teaches us an incredible amount about personal responsibility.

    The first portion of the film is all about getting what we want, and all kinds of characters do all kinds of morally ambiguous things to achieve their wishes. The first act of the play (and the movie, as it were) ends with everyone getting their wishes. The respective princesses have their princes, the baker and his wife have their child, the witch is beautiful, Jack and his mother are rich, and so on. Happily ever after…the usual Disney storyline.

    The second half is sent to teach us that all the wrong choices characters made were NOT ok. You shouldn’t lie to get what you want because you’ll bring a Giant to the land. You shouldn’t steal to get what you want or that Giant will kill you. Beauty is nice, but it’s not everything. In fact, getting it costs the witch her magical powers. Basing your relationships off of fantasy and good looks (Cinderella and her prince) is fun, but you might end up with a total loser for a spouse.

    I agree with what has been said by many commenters…Into the Woods is NOT meant to be entertainment for children. When viewed with a discerning eye and through the lens of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the play/movie can be one of the richest moral teachers of our time.

    To your point, Dr. Marshall, life is ambiguous, messy, and full of twists and turns, which the story does a fantastic job of capturing. While I do believe in absolute truth and right and wrong, my choice to believe that was and is…a choice. I choose that it is right to believe in absolutes. So, the song “No one is alone” really does apply to us all. Even those of us who subscribe to absolute moral codes, religious beliefs, and so on. I’m grateful that I am not alone in my choice to believe those things. 🙂

    The scene of adultery has always been a painful one for me. That said, what it teaches (particularly in the song by the Baker’s Wife) is undoubtedly true. We all make mistakes. We do. That just happens. And when we do, we learn from them. She made a big mistake. She learned from it. In her own final words…”Now I understand, and it’s time to leave the woods.”

    I don’t think the show encourages adultery or mistakes. In fact, viewed in whole, I think it discourages both of those quite heavily as it shows the consequences for each.

    Thanks for a great article about one of my two favorite musicals! (The other is Les Miserables, which you could also argue has a TON of morally ambiguous character choices, yet teaches the power of redemption and the Christian principles of grace, mercy, and justice better than almost any other popular work.)

  • Ann Watkins

    This is not a new Disney movie. This play has been around for 20+ years. PBS did a version of it and theater goers have been enjoying it for while. I have seen it several times in the theater (even a church based one) and seen the PBS version many times and also seen the recent movie. Not once did I interpret it the way you did so I don’t think your daughters are destined to be corrupted by it. Like some below I also thought it was saying don’t judge others, sometimes wrong can seem like right and right can seem like wrong but you must choose which is right. I never saw it as you must choose your own right and your own wrong but you must choose based on your knowledge and experience and education.

    I thought the movie was tastefully done.

  • julie strasser

    did you not realize that “into the woods” is a popular stage play by stephen sondheim (who wrote sweeney todd among other dark plays?). the movie followed the play tenaciously. i have loved the musical since its debut in the late 80’s..mainly for sondheim’s brilliant writing. however, it might not be the best choice for kids and was originally not geared to kids.

  • thatdigiguy

    This article is case-in-point on why parents of moral upbringing do NOT need to be investing in Disney/Hollywood – they are *NOT* going to be helping our kids.

  • 501Venus

    I wrote this a few hours ago and it wasn’t posted. I guess I stated something very abhorring. Well, will try again, Sondheim wrote the lyrics to West Side Story, and wrote a few successful musicals entirely on his own. His style of writing whether it’s words or situations has underlying & direct tones.

    West Side Story would not be the same from the play to the movie if they had change it from inner city gangs to say ‘Harvard’ vs ‘Yale’. If they had deleted Tony’s death scene or the scene where Anita walks into the grocery store to find Tony it would have totally changed the story. The differences, the similarities, the frustrations all lost making it vanilla & able to be stomached.

    I also stated in that invisible post it would be like Mona Lisa had bangs put on her because they decided she needed to blend in more or conform to the clothes & style.

  • 501Venus

    This may have been the reason I was removed because I also stated that Sondheim wrote this play during the AIDS epidemic. He doesn’t talk about homosexuality in a blatant way but more covert in all of his plays. He is a gay man. AIDS was not an easily approachable topic. Many were still hiding in the closet, while others were on the down low so to speak hiding their lifestyle although more bisexual & then there were those involved in drugs spread the disease. Death came to those quickly & some painfully suddenly & unexpectedly. It was scary. One of my cousins died & couldn’t bring himself to admit to the family he was gay. His lover whom he had infected died almost a year after his death.

    The play NOT the movie brings the challenges, fears, worries & ignorance to the forefront. Lies, deceptions, going off the straight & narrow, perceptions of who is wrong or right changes when you are dealing with an illness with a high mortality rate. It took some time to find a mortician that would bury my cousin, not many wanted an AIDS cadaver in their possession. The play hit all of what has been posted by those knowledgeable about the play. What is right, who is wrong, lies, point-of-view, images we wrongly have of others. The giants took Jack in & let him into their realm only to have him steal what they deem precious. When they came to retake it, they were the criminals. Really? Aren’t we redeemable or it is only those we think should?

    Anyone that lived with AIDS (family member, loved friend/lover & coworkers) through that horrid period can recall it seemed people were dying left & right wondering what vicious plague was attacking. People were dying that weren’t gay or drug users but happen to get involved through blood transfusions or born to someone infected. The dying in the musical was partly that one had no way or knowledge of ‘who was going to be next’. We in reality still don’t. Death makes all of us uncomfortable & reminds us of our own mortality.

  • Willow Henry

    I was, quite frankly, appalled as I sat in the theater and saw the blatant pedophilia that was happening in the Little Red Riding scene. Disney said they tried to make it ‘lighter’ by using woodwind instruments to make the mood lighter. Horse manure. Parents said it didn’t bother them because it was too ‘deep’ and went over their children’s heads. The moral lessons at the end were shocking to me. They continue to chip away at right and wrong – but wait, I forgot, I get to decide what’s right or wrong. But no matter how you felt about the morality of it, or whether or not you loved the special effects, at the end of the movie, there was an overwhelming sense of nothingness.

  • DanWas

    The nominalist approach ultimately declared slavery an evil, even though ‘once upon a time’ it was a perfectly acceptable practice supported by the ‘realism’ rationale. I don’t think anyone these days would argue that ending slavery made the world a bleaker place.

    • Marjohna

      No it didn’t. The Bible, beginning to end was condemnation of slavery and it was understanding of nature and nature’s God that inclined men to finally do away with it.

  • demelocst

    Thanks for the review and insights Dr. T. My only addition would be to add “spoiler alert” to this review…..lol. Just kidding. All your work and insights are always thought provoking. Peace.

  • JoeZ

    You are 100% right!!!! I said the exact same things coming out of the film!!!

  • CGH

    Your article almost perfectly describes how I felt after watching this movie. It seemed to be going the right direction (though I didn’t love the music with the exception of the prince’s number), then suddenly, it fell off a cliff. I was so disappointed, it left a terrible taste in my mouth. Happy endings are unrealistic, and mediocrity in life is okay, no reason to dream big. Wow, Disney, the father of fairytales, just spit on every happily ever after they’ve ever written. I think Walt is screaming from the grave.

  • Moughnay Clark

    I felt the same way and at some point I asked for a tomato to throw at the screen. I felt the doom and gloom of the movie and couldn’t wait to leave. I watched many bad movies. I can’t say it made me feel this bad.

  • Damon B.

    Oh brother.

  • J P

    Thank you for this review. I saw the movie with my wife, two siblings, and their spouses and I felt the same way you did, but was unable to articulate it well. I really appreciate this well organized response to the film.

  • Jen

    Thanks for this godly, ‘realist’ perspective. Exactly the details I always wish to learn in kid’s movie reviews.

  • bill

    into the woods. I did not get up and walk right out with my daughter. we were afraid we would get walked on. “come on” Disney. singing every word? “boring” . a wasted great cast, good visuals, and lots of people walking out. “WHY”? better not let Walt see this.

  • 501Venus

    Everyone has a right to their opinion, however it proves a point in that regardless if the musical stayed true to the songs & content it would still get a chilly reception. Why? Disney is known for a certain mode of ‘happily ever after’. Everyone ends up happy & on Valium. The fairy tales are set in a way nothing terrible ends up at the end, all is well with the world.

    I truly blame Disney for this besides parents being complacent & assuming because it is a Disney product they don’t have to do their duty & be vigilant. The commercials did not imply anything outside of the typical Disney offering. They should have given warning it was not a typical fairy tale.

  • Heather Bergevin

    I’m afraid, Mr Philosopher, that you completely missed Sondheim’s point. I blame the missing songs! However, the song you are quoting is a duet. The doubting baker who sings, “who can know what’s true,” is buoyed up by the spirit of his dead wife. She is encouraging him to not follow the tales his father told, the lies of the past, and to actively use his agency to raise their child to make good judgement. To realize that ugly doesn’t mean evil, that huge/tall/not like me doesn’t have to mean enemy.

    Besides, you didn’t take the kids to a Disney movie. You took them to a Disnified production of a famous, decades old, groundbreaking Sondheim musical. You didn’t do your research. The Broadway production is easily available on Netflix. There are hundreds of storylines, wiki’s, and fan pages online. It seems a parenting and philosophical fail to blame others for your lack of research and decision to listen to advertisements, not even knowing if the storyline would be appropriate for children.

    My little kids have seen the first act. Their older sister, who understands more complexly, has seen the second act, and we’ve discussed it.

  • Anja Noelle

    Disney didn’t write this musical, they just made an adaptation of it… the writer’s idea has been around since long before Disney decided to do it. But yes, doing Frozen right before this and maleficent shows and interesting shift in message and viewpoint much deeper than happily ever after.

  • Catherine Young

    I have loved the play for years–and I think you have misunderstood the message. The lyrics you point out I understood in a completely different vein. The song, “You are not alone” is about the fact that our actions affect others, and that we should use good judgment when we make our choices. Hence, the words, “you decide what’s right.” In other words, don’t listen to the world, the end does not justify the beans!! The play is about breaking out of our childish,simplistic, selfish perspective of the world, getting past our obsession with “wish fulfillment” and beginning to think like responsible adults. The play was not intended for young children and the movie should not have been released under the Disney label–they should have released it under their Tri Star subsidiary.

  • marti

    your article is very well written! i saw it too and completely agree. the message leads away from God (not a huge surprise anymore), but it is so blatant. and yet the movie itself–the acting, the music, the scenery is so captivating that if you don’t already know what you believe it will subtly sneak into minds. which is what music is so good at—staying with us, making us remember the words without realizing… my children are grown now, but when they were young i pointed out things like this to them. my parents did the same with me. and i remember there were times when i felt like they were over reacting or just plain preaching. i say this last part in hopes that parents of young and/or teens, who read this, will be encouraged to say these things even if they think their kids will find them preachy. i am now SO thankful i had preachy parents.

  • R. Warren Gill III

    “Now we have a kids movie to help us understand it more deeply.” Who said this was a kids movie? Just because it’s owned by Disney, and involves fairy-tale characters does not make it a movie for children. This is a silly critique.

  • lizzybennett

    I love this film and I have always that it was for more adult viewers. It sticks true to the origanle fairy tales like the broad way play (not surprising as the the writer joined the Disney crew for this). I have always kind of thought that “you decide what’s right” is a pretty accurate statement, we are all in this world sticking to our own version of right and wrong. The people in jail have chosen the wrong.

  • Brayden

    Meh. I think if you removed your “Doctor” title and didn’t flaunt it around throughout your discussion here then this would be a lot less convincing. It’s a Disney movie. Apart from the adultery scene (what..?), I felt that the rest of the movie gave me a very postive feeling in my heart. I guarantee that’s how a bunch of little kids seeing the movie feel as well. Your interpretation is just your opinion and has little to do with taking kids to see a movie… But nice try “Doc”

  • Mary Jane

    Which shows how individual people can interpret things. I work with at risk or behaviorally challenged teenage girls. Most are holding on to things that have happened to them and are angry and acting out. I used Frozen and “Let it Go” to assist me in helping some of the girls to Let all their hurt and anger go, be a survivor not a victim. It worked for many. So it is one’s interpretation. I think some of you have gone overboard with Frozen and “Let it Go” but to each their own. Oh and I am conservative and Christian. I may wait to see Into the Woods once it gets on DVD and I can review it without paying an arm and a leg to do so. $1.60 sounds a lot better than $8.00 at the cheapest…plus I have to have popcorn and a drink and my middle child (16 years old) will want to go add another $8 but we share the popcorn and drink.

  • Joshua Boyle

    I think you’re really reaching with this. Your post appears designed to cause controversy and bring people to your website and products. My family grew up watching a PBS recorded version of Into the Woods. No-one loved it more than my little sister who first saw it when she was around 8 years old. Was there stuff in there that our family morally disagreed with? Sure. But there were also lots of great messages and discussions that resulted from it, including about moral disagreements. I’m not saying it’s the right thing for every family. It simply worked for us.

    I do find it ironic that one of the main points of the original musical was showing the damage that can happen from wanting to protect a child from the evils of the world (Witch and Rapunzel). And here you’re trying to stir parents up and get them to protect their children from this evil agenda (which largely appears to be your own construct.) (Note how many people took the song to mean something else.) (Are you really sure you got the correct message?) 🙂

    My parents treated us with great respect as children. They taught us moral and religious principles that can lead to a very happy life (and afterlife). They did not hide contrary points of view and in fact encouraged us to learn about many religions, philosophies, etc. And dang! but I think we all turned out pretty well. 🙂

  • Alice Moody

    The movie stayed with the original Broadway musical plot. In many ways, I found the movie to be fantastic. All the inherent darkness of the Brothers Grimm versions of the stories restored from the sugary Disney-style animations. And unlike a stage production, the woods were big and eerie enough for characters all to be there without knowing the others were so close. Hard to believe on a stage. Thank you Disney for staying true.

  • Ben Linford

    Couldn’t disagree with you more. But this is a great analytical thesis nonetheless. I have great respect for your view. It’s certainly more considered and deep than many are capable of conceiving. That being said, there is no basis to claim that “good” is definite and unchanging. It fluctuates all the time. Even in the Church. As someone who no longer shares your beliefs but grew up sharing them, I guess I just have a different perspective. I think Sondheim is the greatest artist of our age, specifically because he highlights the reasons why “good” is not, never has been, and never will be, a definite and unchanging thing.

  • Matt

    The worst musical ever. Lots of singing, and most of it average, and no melody. In other words lets not talk but sing our lines and then add some lame background tune. It sounded like an improv class with people making up a song as they went. Painful to say the least. Lots of inappropriate sexual ennuendos between adults and kids as well. Just horrible. The kids didn’t like it either. Sorry no spell check here.

    • Stephanie

      My, my you’ve OBVIOUSLY never actually studied modern musical theatre.
      And I’m sorry, did you say it’s the worst musical because it has “too much singing”…?

      I fail to understand your logic.

    • Matt Richardson

      I’m right there with ya, I mean who wants to go to a musical that has “lots of singing”??? I’m outraged! Lmao, get over yourself, and to call Meryl Streep average should be a crime!

  • Amy

    Did you read reviews before taking your children or trust that a PG movie from Disney would be fine? I am curious, though, why you say Disney is deconstructing these narratives. If you know anything of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales this musical is based upon, you will see that Disney is actually the company who took those dark, horrific stories and made them appropriate for children giving them happy endings. Disney made this movie, but they did not write the original musical. I think the success of Les Miserables will lead to more and more theater musicals being made into movies. We live in a post-modern era in a capitalistic society. Disney is a secular company that is really going to be all about the bottom line, and I don’t think they are on some moral crusade to destroy or build up the values of our society. I think we should approach entertainment with an attitude and discussion and what could be learned from the experience. I will not be taking my 11 year old son to see it, but I was already familiar with the musical and the fairy tales.

  • neeko

    I appreciate what you said! The movie did not “feel” right, but I coildn’t figure out why. Thanks for showing me what me, I know Disney always has an underlying message somehow 🙁

  • Pat

    I agree that I would be very careful about taking children to this movie, but I think this is not a movie for young children. As an adult, I can understand the word, “fiction”, and enjoy the movie for what it is – entertainment.

  • hortondlfn

    I am so relieved to read this. My very first Broadway experience was ITW, and I was grossly disappointed. I recall being distressed by that theme, “You decide what’s right.” but when I talked to friends about it, I was pretty much told to shut up. It’s a relief to find out that I may not be crazy, after all.

  • I agree that it isn’t a children’s movie. It is an older teen-adult movie. The story is dark as are most of the original stories. As an adult, I thought through that song as they sang and disagreed with certain parts. I think it would be a good conversation with teens about that concept. I also think that it is good to discuss how fat sin can take hold, a thought can turn to actions quickly and we need to be weary of that. The prince persuading the bakers’ wife is a good lesson worth discussing. Maybe, better discussed at home, after previewing the movie with certain ages, but still valuable.

  • Costume Designer

    I’m confused. this is a 1980’s Broadway Musical. These lyrics have been around since then. It may have been made by Disney, but it is a Sohnheim musical. I love this musical and have designed the costumes for it at our university. It really is an adult play. (Teen years and older). It is just marketed badly.

  • Damac

    Personally I don’t see anything wrong with the line of philosophy the movie had to offer. If anything, it reminds us that there is no black and white, and that there is always the other side to consider. Good things, bad things – yeah, what you believe you deem good, what you don’t you call it bad. That is your upbringing and culture, doesn’t mean it is the same for others. I think it calls us to think about the bigger picture, think about the community as a whole instead of individuals or a group within a community. No one is really alone, because there will always be people who believe what you believe. Is it good? not necessarily; but is it bad? I don’t think so – hence it’s up to ‘you’ to decide. Just know that whatever decision you make, it may be a dream come true, but careful as it may be a curse too.

    As for the bit in the woods where the prince had a fling with the baker’s wife, I thought it was appropriate. It is real, it is about temptation and it is about urge. Who doesn’t struggle with temptations and urges? It is how we deal with temptations and urges which is the key, hiding it doesn’t mean its not there! I thought it was mature of Disney to include this scene. Yes, you may need to explain to your kid’s about lust, about urges and temptations and that was the key, as the song summarises –

    Careful the things you sayChildren will listen
    Careful the things you do
    Children will see and learn
    Children may not obey, but children will listen
    Children will look to you for which way to turn
    To learn what to be
    Careful before you say “Listen to me”
    Children will listen

    so say and do that which is ‘good’, for:

    What can you say that no matter how slight
    Won’t be misunderstood.
    What do you leave to your child when you’re dead?
    Only whatever you put in it’s head
    Things that you’re mother and father had said
    Which were left to them too

    Parents think twice about what you say to your kids, and be sober as to the example you lead for your children. There is nothing dark in the woods, it is only dark because we are hiding in the cracks and crevices and don’t wish for the light to expose it.

  • Andrea McCluskey Woolley

    Christmas day I took the 3 older kids to see Unbroken-wonderful. Hubby took the 2 youngers (9 & 6) to see Into the Woods. I didn’t know the story line and was unhappy to hear about the adulterous behavior of Prince and Baker’s Wife. Thank you for the details given here. Hate that we contributed to Disney’s box office dollars. The 2 olders saw it last night for free so now I’m the only one who hasn’t seen it in our family.

  • Alex J

    I’m amazed that you weren’t familiar with the original musical before Disney got involved.. Someone would have been hyperventilating if they had included the reprise of Agony (Chris Pine’s song) in which the song addresses the Princes adoration for Sleeping Beauty and Snow White before returning to their wives (loves of act I). My wife played the Baker’s wife in one production and my son the wolf in his high school production.. I save by appalled looks for high schools or children’s theatres that perform Chicago, Gypsy, Cabaret, or even Grease..

  • Lorraine Sears

    I’ve seen the musical, I was in even in a production of it myself. There is nothing wrong with ‘Into The Woods’ as a wonderful piece of musical theatre, with some very emotive songs–as a mother I relate to ‘Stay with Me’ sung by the witch to Rapunzel. I think the problem you have is that you expected this to be the same old ‘Happy Ever After’ that Disney is famous for. You didn’t research the story before going. But then again why would you, it’s got all the fairy tales and it’s made by Disney, so you went on blind trust.

    Into the Woods is wonderful, there is nothing wrong with it. You have been let down by your own belief in Disney and the fact they made a family movie out of something that is perhaps suited to older, more savvy audiences. As it is, I am taking my 11 year old and to see it on Sunday. I have waited for it since the moment I heard it was in production. The cast is fantastic, the story amazing and the music will stay with me forever.

  • Anonymous

    Ok first of all I NEVER KNEW THIS WAS A MUSICAL and second I agree that what Disney did with the bakers wife and prince was completely messed up and you chose what’s right. Because if that’s true that means doing drugs or killing someone is okay because if you say that’s the right thing to do someone else somewhere will agree so go ahead. And as long as you feel that’s right in your heart. (I know that’s not the exact words but it’s close, sorry.)

  • Lindata

    Nominalism is a central point in Buddhism.

  • Shane Stever

    Maybe you are not aware that Disney did not write this musical. At no point in your article do you mention Stephen Sondheim. Of course this movie isn’t suitable for children. Research things a bit more before you go on assuming the culprit. In fact, Disney way WAY toned things down for this production.

  • jsoxx

    This review is a joke right? If your review was simply based on your opinion that would be one thing however, your philosophical conclusions are so deeply based on moral relativism it’s hard to take seriously. The “pernicious” things you found portrayed in this film are in fact a lessons that your children SHOULD learn. Witches can be right and good and they should choose to be those things. Should they not? If you are a Giant don’t let the world pressure you or tell you that you have to be the bad guy. Giants can be right, Giants can be good. The point was not to hold on to your preconceived notions of who and what is right because those preconceptions can often be wrong. Each character wishes something for themselves based off of their current understanding of their own self as well as the world around them, understanding which happens to be very flawed.

  • Trent Clegg

    Dear Dr. Marshall,

    Not only have I seen the movie, but I have played in the stage version of Into the Woods and
    am very well acquainted with the text and music of this show. It’s obvious to me from your remarks that you are less well acquainted. It is also obvious to me that your agenda trumps your vision. Please allow me to open your eyes a little.

    The passage you quote to make your point about nominalism/moral relativism is incomplete. You have taken part of a thought out of its context and made it look like another thought. Far from leading people away from true religion, the ethos put forward in Into the Woods clears away two millennia’s worth of cobwebs and helps reveal Christ’s message in its pure form.

    Once the Baker and Cinderella have told Jack and Red that they have a responsibility to “decide” what’s right and good, they balance that with the warning “Just remember, someone is on your side (our side), someone else is not. While we’re seeing our side (our side), maybe we forgot they arenot a lone. No one is alone.” The meaning is that while trying to discern/decide right from wrong, we have to consider things from more than just our perspective. Not only does this help build bridges of love and understanding between people, but in so doing, we actually strengthen our own position by identifying our own weaknesses.

    We are human. We are very rarely given the grace of seeing the entire picture. Even when it happens, we often misinterpret what we’ve seen. This is why it is so critically important to regularly examine our perspectives and positions for flaws in the light of someone else’s eyes so we can address those flaws and correct them. Motes and beams, anyone?

    I was taught to be wary of evil calling itself good and good evil. We see it happening all around us now. The theme of the novel and musical Wicked, as well as the storyline of Maleficent, both gave me pause when I first encountered them, and I was very careful when I examined what they had to say not to swallow their premise uncritically. However, as the Wizard says in the song “Wonderful” from Wicked, “A man’s a crusader…or ruthless invader. A rich man’s a thief or philanthropist…it’s all in which label is able to persist.” There are many sides to any story, and
    we would do well to consider them all. Some might say this is leading us to have sympathy for the devil, but what it actually do is help us to judge actions separate from people, gain a better perspective, and in doing so, discern a more effective and less morally-questionable response. Neither these two shows, nor Into the Woods, promote the nominalism you accuse them of.

    Some actions are just evil, and the unrepentant who commit them should be held accountable, but things sometimes truly aren’t what they seem on the surface. For example, during World War II, Caucasian Americans were taught to distrust all Japanese people and we consequently treated Japanese Americans horribly. A more careful examination might have helped us avoid that error and identify who our enemy truly was…those who were seeking to deprive other humans of life and liberty. Instead, we became our enemy, doing many of the same things the Nazis and Japanese did. Similar demonization of all Muslims is going on, but not all Muslims are guilty of terrorism.

    Learning to love others unconditionally is the core message Christ imparts to His disciples. Anything that takes us away from that love is what we need to question. We especially need to love those with views different from ours or those who maltreat us. Getting past the blame game so beautifullydepicted in the show is what allows us to love in a Christ-like way.

    There are so many philosophical statements in Into the Woods, both overt and implied, that have actually helped me draw closer to Christ’s love and see through the sectarian and dogmatic confusion that shrouds Christ’s message of what love and virtue really are. I think you would do well to take a closer, more open-minded look at the entire text for the stage version of Into the Woods before making such an ill-informed condemnation.

    Sincerely,

    Trent Clegg

  • Tod Thompson

    Best review of this movie I have read. I have seen it and it had some very clever and humorous moments, but it was widely marketed to little children on the Disney Channel. I know a lot of parents who are very upset.

  • Susan Holt

    I looked for things in the movie that I could apply to my life. For example, Its better to stay together, especially when going through unfamiliar, scary, dark places. … When our daughter was killed we held onto each other. We need to work together to raise our children, take care of our home, pay our debts and eventually see the fruits of our labors.

  • Jessica

    I totally agree with everything you discussed in this article but I believe you left out Johnny Depp’s song. It was absolutely in poor taste to have ever been written. The lyrics basically make him sound like a pediphile. My friend and I looked at each other disgusted. She wanted to leave after that scene. She stayed but we both wished it had been done differently.

  • Hunter

    Dear Dr. Taylor Marshal,

    I feel impelled to inform you that I entirely disagree with this assessment of “Into the Woods”
    and think the ENTIRE point of the film has been lost on you. I am especially
    surprised at your conclusion considering you are a philosophy professor.
    Essentially, you are saying that the ultimate message of this film is that
    there is no such thing as morality and there is no such thing as good and bad
    when it comes to making decisions: “With nominalism, there is ultimately no meaning. There
    is no purpose. There is only the meaning and purpose that we create in our own
    hearts. There is no such thing as natural law. We can decide what we want
    things to be.” You claim that “Into the Woods is an apologetic for the
    philosophical school of nominalism”. This is simply not the case.

    I will first sight a few examples of where the film makes a firm stance on
    morality and illustrates how immoral decisions lead to dire consequences.

    1) The baker’s wife dies because she chose to give in to the Prince’s wooing and
    break her marriage vows. The prince clearly has low moral standings in his
    relations with women and the song he sings clearly illustrates that by mocking
    the fact that he’s even pretending to fight his urges: “This is foolish…but
    what are the woods for if not foolish things.” In the baker’s wife indecision,
    she essentially states, “I’ve made marriage vows and I shouldn’t break them. I
    should turn back now.” …But she gives in. What happens immediately after? She
    is completely turned around because she was distracted by the kissing. She
    wanders off for a moment, only to FALL OFF A CLIFF and DIE when the footsteps
    of the giant shake the ground. I cannot not think of any situation in any film
    that depicts such extreme consequences for immoral behavior in such rapid
    succession.

    2) Jack continues to steal from the giants, despite the consequences getting worse
    and worse. He is taunted by Red Riding Hood to steal the harp, which eventually
    leads him to have to KILL a giant that chases him. It’s a slippery slope from
    curiosity, to petty theft, to MURDER. What is the consequence? Well, another
    giant comes down, destroys the entire kingdom and kills many of the main
    characters. Even his mother’s death is caused because of the giant coming down!
    Once again, if you do not see the clear warning of immoral behavior and what it
    leads to in this plot thread, I don’t know what movie you’ve been watching.

    3) The wolf is clearly depicted as an evil and malicious predator. He desires to
    “eat” Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. Red Riding Hood is blind to his evil
    intent, because she is inexperienced and has never contemplated the fact that
    someone could commit such evil acts and yet seem so nice. Soon after “eating”
    Red Riding Hood, the wolf is chopped open in brutal fashion. Once again— evil
    behavior meets a terrible end. Red Riding Hood then sings about how she has
    grown in moral knowledge and is now grateful that she is aware of people’s
    often hidden evil agendas. This subplot is in and of itself an example of what
    I believe the film is trying to accomplish. Education of morality through
    self-discovery (albeit, vicariously through the film’s characters).

    4) The witch steals a baby, hides her in a tower and keeps her prisoner, then
    pretends to be the mother. Does this immoral decision lead to happiness? Oh no.
    Eventually her “daughter” hates her and becomes estranged. This is of course,
    not before the witch brutally blinds the innocent prince and tries imprisoning
    her “daughter” in a swamp surrounded by snakes. The witch does not meet a happy
    end. What happens to the innocent girl and prince who are depicted as innately
    good and innocent? Well, the girl is able to harmlessly walk through the snakes
    to freedom, and then restore the princes sight through shedding a tear. Dr.
    Marshal— HOW IS THIS DEPICTING A WORLD DEPRIVED OF MORALITY AND CONSEQUENCES?
    Ehhemm. Sorry about that little outburst. Moving on to yet ANOTHER example…

    5) The inciting incident of the entire film is the baker’s father stealing from the
    witches garden. His wife was pregnant and CRAVING lettuce from the garden. So
    he felt this justified in stealing some. He also gets greedy and goes even
    further to steal some magic beans. This small immoral act leads to EXTREME
    sorrow and suffering through his posterity and entire kingdom years later, not
    to mention immediate suffering to himself including having his daughter taken.
    So it seems like to me simply based on how the plot follows, it is plain to see
    this entire film is an example of terrible consequences that stem from one
    seemingly small immoral act. Are you still standing by your conclusion that
    this film is depraved of all morality and is trying to brainwash your kids into
    thinking any decision is a good one?

    So that’s just a few examples of CLEAR morality depicted in the film that I can
    think of off the top of my head. I’m sure there are many more that I missed.
    Another huge point you have missed, dear sir, is the brilliance of the “blame
    game” song at the end. You say that the point of this song is to show that
    finding blame is useless because choices have no morality anyways. Erm, not
    quite.

    The song basically analyses all the choices that were made by the characters in the film, passing blame from one to the other. You can blame the father for stealing from the garden, or blame the witch or cursing him, or blame Jack for stealing the harp causing the giant to come
    down, or blame Red Riding Hood for taunting him to do it, etc. The reason the
    characters are thinking of ways to blame others is to take the blame off of
    them in order to JUSTIFY their own bad decisions. By the end of the song we
    realize the blame game IS pointless because they are ALL to blame. The message
    of this song is that other’s errors do not give YOU permission to act in an
    immoral way. If any one of them had made a good decision and stopped the cycle,
    everyone would still be alive! If the witch didn’t curse the father out of
    anger, or if Jack didn’t go so low as to fall for Riding Hood’s taunting, etc.
    then none of these terrible consequences would have happened! If anything, the message is a
    warning of the slippery slope of moral relativism and justification— the
    complete opposite of what you, Dr., claim the film to be promoting. The song is
    a call to act in line with a higher morality. A higher law of action where we
    should not sink so low as to lash out at those who harm us and then try to
    justify our actions. If we live by “an eye for an eye” the world becomes blind.
    Or in the case of “Into the Woods”, we all end end up becoming brutally
    murdered or lonely & miserable.

    The final line:
    “You decide what’s right. You decide what’s good.” is not a final normative statement
    on how the world works that means “there is no right and wrong”, but rather an
    invitation to truly think about the story you just witnessed and discover for
    yourself where the moral boundaries were crossed. We should not go through this
    life ignorant of evil, much like Riding Hood is at the beginning of the film.
    So many movies nowadays spoon feed you what the film thinks morality should be
    by clearly outlining the “good guy” and the “bad guy”. In life it is incredibly
    difficult to tell the “good guy” from the “bad guy”. Making decisions in life
    is confusing and things that are morally bad can appear good, and vice versa.
    This film is an exercise in discovering moral bounds. If you think the true
    underlying meaning of the film is that decisions are meaningless, then you have
    missed the ENTIRE point. I believe this film transcends typical “film morality”
    and is a fantastic example of how morality should be portrayed in film. You
    have to do a little bit of reflection in order understand what it was really
    trying to say.

    If you are concerned that your children will misunderstand aspects of the film, sit down
    and have a discussion with them! Don’t just wish to ”to cover the ears of
    (your) dear children” and keep them in ignorance so that you can spoon-feed
    them how to make decisions. They need learn and discover the importance of
    morality. If anything, this film has given you an excellent opportunity to
    discuss with them why making good decisions is important. I have given you a
    few examples of many from the film that you can bring up to teach them. In the
    real world, there are moral boundaries, but they can be incredibly tough to
    define and discover. The woods that the characters are lost in and confused by
    are an analogy for the confusion of our own world. If you can’t decipher the
    morality illustrated in “Into the Woods”, then I’m afraid you will have an
    incredibly tough time deciphering morality in the real world where consequences
    for evil are not so immediate, where the innocent girl is not saved from the
    predator, nor is the prince’s sight restored that he lost from an act of
    terrible injustice committed to him.

    Sincerely,
    A philosophy and film student who should be in bed right now.

    • missmissy68

      Hunter, I absolutely LOVE your clear & concise (sort of) analysis. It is exactly on the mark of what I got out of the film, and I’m completely flabbergasted that so many people didn’t see the deeper meaning, which seems so obvious to me.
      We took our 10, 12, 14 year olds to the movie. They immediately understood that the (mortal) sin taking place in each instance led to dire consequences… not so direct in real life is it? My 10 yr old was very uncomfortable with the baker’s wife/prince scene & came over to me during the movie and said, “Mom, why are they doing that? They’re married. That’s a mortal sin!” And after the movie I said, “It’s very sad that she died immediately afterwards because she didn’t have a chance to repent.” For once, I feel like my hard work in raising my kids in this morally corrupt world is paying off. Until they’re confronted with things like this, either in a difficult movie or a difficult real life situation, you won’t ever know how your convictions are going to play out in their lives.

  • Steven

    I would suggest for future endeavors you do research on who wrote Into the Woods. Take into account that Stephen Sondheim has a knack for writing morbid plays. And if you still think it’s a good idea to take your child to Into the Woods or Sweeney Todd or Sunday in the Park with George, then do so. Theater has been around in America for a long time. Often the endings aren’t a fairy tale. So if you are going to watch a movie that is based off of a musical, research it first. ESPECIALLY if it’s a Stephen Sondheim Musical.

  • Douglas S Woodall Sr

    We attended over the holidays and found basically the same thing as the writer. We left the film talking about the major differences between doing your own thing and the blame game versus the way set forth by God’s Word.

  • kscow

    I hated it. The Johnny Depp scenes creeped me out and had a pedophile vibe going on. I have not read the book but the whole story line made no sense. They went from the witch and completing the journey to focusing on the giant. I hate how they introduce morally destructive topics and then sing that you decide what’s bad or good ultimately stating that bad can be good. What a warped and broken movie.

  • Brett Harwood

    “Realism leads to religion and theism” Really Doc? Perhaps you should brush up on your philosophy!

    Realism, (from Webster)

    1
    : concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary
    2 a : a doctrine that universals exist outside the mind; specifically : the conception that an abstract term names an independent and unitary reality
    b : a theory that objects of sense perception or cognition exist independently of the mind

    Since realism denies/rejects the esoteric and supernatural, how can it lead to religion and theism?

    Also, Sondheim and Lapine didn’t use Disney as a source for “Into the Woods” but rather, the Brothers Grimm. Disney is the bastardization of the myths where “Happily ever after” doesn’t exist. So did Sondheim/Lapine darken the mood of the material? No, they actually restored the flavor of the stories.

    I am sorry the movie provided an uncomfortable moment for you and your daughters. I realize that 11 is too early of an age to come to the realization that most princes aren’t very charming. And as the prince confesses, there is a difference e between being charming and sincere.

    Finally, please note that each of the characters in “Into the Woods” suffer the consequences of their actions. I’m not sure that squares up with the notion of moral relativism, or Nominalism for that matter.

  • Katie

    First of all, please watch the original stage version (without your daughter if you think best)! Yes, Sondheim is a realist, he makes the audience face the darker side of our culture, and he has mother-child relationship issues. That is the depth to his shows. They were never intended for a children’s audience (Into the Woods Jr ends at “happily ever after”), and Disney has toned it down while keeping to the original for the most part. There is a moral though, but not what you’re focusing on.
    Yes, the Princes are sinful, vain, two dimentional characters (who leave their wives for other princesses originally). Don’t be like them! (I think it’s also a snub to politicians.) Yes, the Baker’s Wife is in awe of the pop-star Prince, as many in our society almost worship movie stars, and don’t tell me “The Blame” doesn’t represent our society.
    The quote you’re looking at, “You decide what’s right. You decide what’s good,” is not the moral that you get to decide how the world is set up. It’s more like “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” and don’t make judgements without all the information. Each person has a mind an needs to use it. The key line is after that “Just remember…Some one is on your side, someone else is not. While you’re seeing our side maybe we forgot, that no one is alone!” You can take this many ways: everyone gets an opinion and they have the right to it, there will be someone who will agree with you even if they’er not right next to you, OR there is a God and family who have passed (Cinderella’s mother, the Baker’s Father, the Baker’s Wife) that are always with us. There’s the twist!
    The movie is also missing the additional lyrics to the theme that basically say there will always be challenges so we have to go into the woods” every now and then to fight them, but you can still pursue your happy ever after. Wanting is not necessarily a bad thing, just becareful what you wish for since you might just get it. I could go on and on about this show, but I’ll restrain myself.
    Fairytales are morality tales we are supposed to learn from, and Grimm was much scarier than Sondheim. The point of the unhappy ending (which was even more unhappy in the original) is to learn and teach because Children will Listen, and maybe the world can get out of this materialistic funk, reconnect to families (blood or by choice), and make the world a better place.

  • Garrett Myers

    Yeah, didn’t think you post that. Thanks for having an open mind.

  • Julie

    I just want to add that this is not a “Disney-fied” story, as said above. This is a play that’s been adapted to film (by Disney, yes, but they didn’t change the storyline)… have what issues you will, but this isn’t Disney deciding that happy endings are “sooo not cool.” Actually, when the play was written, the twist on fairytales was clever and fairly new. I know this doesn’t change a whole lot of your points, but the Disney label was getting to me.

    • Julie

      Also, I too was very disappointed when I first saw the play in high school, and they got to the end with those stupid lyrics. Then I went out and bought the soundtrack and just made a stupid face while I sang, when the CD reached that song. Whatever it took… that music is too awesome.

      • 501Venus

        They aren’t stupid lyrics. I tried to post before but my computer froze up.

        They did change significant parts of the play unless your memory has forgotten them. Rapunzel not only dies but loses her mind after her prince leaves her. The witch heartbroken trying to protect her from the adolescent stupidity of first love sings the last song poignantly to all regarding her death. The witch doesn’t disappear as she does.

        The princes sing the sang song with different verses & attitude. The first time they are excited to go after their conquests, the second time they are bored & wished they could go after new conquests. Each is trying to out do the other in the pain, suffering & anguish.

        The announcer is taken by the giant. The father is more pronounced as a figure in the play. The character that plays prince charming is also the wolf. The baker’s wife & Prince Charming have a dalliance. So yes there was a lot removed to make it a better happier ending.

        The stupid lyrics were written by the same man wrote West Side Story’s Maria, Only in America & There’s a place for us. I suggest you read the actual lyrics & several comments & interpretation done on the play when it was first produced & on Broadway. Those stupid words were powerful to the gay community regarding acceptance & image. Until you write several Tony award winning plays your opinion is yours not an entire world’s view. I’ll probably be removed once again. I speak my mind & a truth the writer’s doesn’t want to be shared.

  • Gabriel N. Akins

    Great insights! While there are parts of the movie, likely more than less, that got it wrong, I think more should be said about about how we know what is right and wrong (how do we know the which is wrong or right?). I think it’s interesting that more people do not appreciate a story that probes further into why we are the way we are. Or more importantly, concerning epistemology, how we KNOW a person is the way we think they are. Evil exists and deserves to be known for what it is. But anyone who’s grown up in Christian circles that easily reduce the differences between us and other faith traditions will known precisely what I mean. So, I grew up pentecostal and it was commonplace to know Baptists don’t care about the role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life and Catholics worship Mary. But it didn’t take but eating a few Baptists and Catholics to appreciate how reductive such statements are and just how easy stereotypes are developed. That being said, as I’ve grown up I’ve seen the way evil has been allowed to have a voice in what types of evil are to be avoided and that like the opposition tempting Jesus. Pshhhh! So, I think it’s interesting that the “movies” are picking up on a theme that Christians should be more familiar with than laity tends to recognize; namely, the embarrassing parts of our humanity are recorded along with the redemptive parts of our creator.

    We are living in a world where we are increasingly thrust into the reality of our neighbor. But as Christians, we should be more familiar with themes that make us deal with the reality of good and evil long before many of our parents see fit to bring it up. The result? The result is that our parents think they are guarding and protecting us, but we intuitively pick up on the way things are, the house and culture rules. But we know the selective attention of young people. By time they’re old enough to realize they have been protected from knowing certain realities, they will need the help of their parents to notice how unwittingly selective they attended their childhood. That is, parents will have to fill in the details of how they tried to aim children in the right direction and having open conversations about reality needs to be something kids remember as normal.

    • 501Venus

      As I stated repeatedly & probably will be removed again. This play was written during the rampant AIDS epidemic. Gays were being viewed by some in a very negative manner. Ignorance about the disease (how it could be caught, type of person catches it & assumptions of being punished for their sordid behavior and/or lifestyle) could be seen in parts of the play. The princes weren’t perfect in fact aside from being charming they weren’t helpful or pertinent. Not everyone is redeemable, we can be as a society & individuals centered on our own needs inconsiderate of others.

      It has been proven already that history writes in the eyes of the winner or controlling party. American Indians were seen as heathens & cruel scalping the heads of pioneers. Truth scalping was brought to this country & used originally against the Indians. They had their own morality, language, history & culture. Yet movies, news & politicians depicted a totally different image/stereotype of these people focused on their own agenda.

      Parents are human beings with their own thoughts, opinions & experiences no one is 100% right in their ways of instilling values, consideration & respectable behavior in their offspring. We make mistakes & must accept them. Many however, don’t want to recognize that & instead of seeing their could be errors in judgment, deny they are ever wrong.

  • tammi

    I guess my only question to you is, didn’t you look into what Stephen Sondheim’s “Into The Woods” was about before deciding to take your 11 year old twins to it? I understand that the movie was put out by Disney, but it is still Stephen Sondheim’s story and his story has always been exactly the way you just described it. The 2nd Act is and always will be known as a tragedy and is often left out of stage productions for that very reason. I probably wouldn’t have taken my 11 year olds to see it; but, I would have known not to.

  • Don

    OMG… what the heck is wrong with you people… you have missed the entire message of On One Is Alone… what the song is saying is that there are consequences for your actions and that your decisions will effect other people… Hence, You Are Not Alone so better think before you make decisions that will hurt not only yourself, but those around you… how dense can you parents be… yes, life is tough and real reality doesn’t work the same for all people… there are shouldn’ts and should as an earlier lyric in the film states. It’s the perfect lesson for children and adults alike… use your brain before deciding and your heart and the right decision will prevail… it is not a suggestion that anything goes… man, you really are dense if that’s what you took from that song… even Sondheim himself defines the song this way… as the deceased baker’s wife’s voice tells the baker near the end… don’t be afraid to be a father… “You’ll know what to do”… trust yourself and learn pass along what you’ve learned from life… go see the movie again and really open your minds this time… 🙂

  • 501Venus

    This isn’t a freedom of speech board this is limited to what this person’s views & opinions are if what you state agrees with his.

  • lmaxwell

    Thank you for explaining that so well. I enjoyed the movie for all the funny parts and cleverly interconnected stories, but bristled at some of the lyrics and storylines. Tried to explain my discomfort to an adult daughter who saw it with me. She shrugged off my opinion as me just being “not with the times.” But your explanation confirms why I felt uneasy. It’s not just this one, but too many family feature films in recent years that are entertaining and terrific in so many ways, but then there are those curve balls. Again, thank you.

  • Mark Parry

    I saw into “into the woods” last week with my sister and my nephews. Also her X husband and his current gal. (I never divorced my brohter in law as my sister did we reamain close while my sister now regrets her decision). I appreciate the exogessis on Nominalism. It is the philosophy of our day and the fruite of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It kills…Best to avoid it altogether.

  • RJ

    Into the Woods is rated PG, and that should be your first clue. It was never intended as a children’s story, neither as a Broadway play nor as a film. Just because Disney made it, does not make it a kiddy flick. If you are taking children under the age of 13 to see it, thinking you’re going to see a “family friendly” film, then you are the one who is irresponsible for not researching it first. Into the Woods (as a Broadway musical) has been around for many years prior to the film being made. I assume you have access to Google and Wikipedia.

  • Larry Betson

    You hit the proverbial nail right on the head. I did not see this movie but my wife and daughter did. I did however purchase the soundtrack for my daughter. And you are right on the money I listened to it in the car the other day with my daughter, and the words I was hearing, so clever and subtle destroy everything that is good and mash it up into a relativism, you choose what’s right stew.

  • Bob Lee

    I felt the same way. Thought there were way too many political implications. Excatly.

  • Too Much

    Hahaha “If you’ve jumped ahead of me and have concluded that Nominalism leads to
    secularism and atheism and that Realism leads to religion and theism,
    you are very intelligent.” This had me in stitches.

  • Kevin Smithers

    First of all, do your homework before you take your daughters to ANY movie. Your lack of knowledge concerning this film is overwhelming.
    Second, did you really say the Prince was trying to commit adultery with the Baker’s wife? Next time let your wife take the girls. Your fathering ability for prepubescent girls is nonexistent.

  • Sonia

    While I agree that this movie was not suitable for young children, perhaps the blame lies not in Disney but in the parents for not doing their research as to what the story was about? One could easily find an entire stage performance on YouTube and watch it with all the original musical numbers before going to see the movie (which is what I did), and decide from there whether or not children should see the movie. Perhaps we do, in fact, decide what is good and bad for children and even ourselves. Is that not why we have a mind and a conscience? We form our own opinions based on what we experience and learn in “the fabric of the real world”, do we not? And was the witch wrong when she essentially said that we need to stop blaming others for problems in our lives and face the consequences of our own actions? That lesson easily translates into Christian faith in that we are responsible for our own sins. Yes, God could come and fix our lives every time we screw up, but what would we learn if he did? God, afterall, is our father. He teaches us by example and hopes that we learn from our mistakes (or sins) so we don’t continue to make them. That’s how I interpreted those messages, anyway. And because we do have the ability to decide what is good and what is bad, and therefore to form our own opinions, I’m not saying that yours is wrong. I’m just offering another perspective.

  • Cmpunk

    apparently no one does any research before ranting about things they dislike anymore. into the woods is NOT a Disney creation it has been around a long time and disney just took the exact story and put it into a film.

  • Weeping for America

    Wow, this interpretation is a very one-sided and fear-based way of looking at this brilliantly-crafted tale. I have so many problems with this guy’s logic I don’t know where to start. First off, the adultery thing. Why do parents constantly take their kids to see movies and then get bent out of joint when the movie “teaches” their kid something they didn’t want their kid to know? Parent much? Maybe do some research about what is in the movie BEFORE you take your innocent little darlings to it. Second, the author’s conclusion that the ending song “no one is alone,” particularly the phrase, “you decide what’s right,” is somehow an espousal of nominal-ism, and therefore atheism, is aas I said, an example of someone parenting from a position of fear. Why do we have to assume than anything that challenges one to think more complexly about the universe is, to use the author’s word, “pernicious?” Isn’t the whole point of the life to learn to become more perfect and God-like? how can we do that if we refuse to “decide what’s good,” for ourselves? At some point we have to do that rather than blindly follow whatever dogma we have chosen. Are the themes in this movie a bit more adult than the usual Disney flick? You bet, that’s part of its beauty. Does that mean it is somehow part of a secret agenda to athie-ize you and your whole family? Um…I guess if you decide to view the world in such stark terms, but then of course that also means pretty much everything else in life is also out to get you, so enjoy that.

  • tbear

    haha, this is not a Disney story. If you saw the Broadway version, you would’ve seen a darker story. Disney did a phenomenal job with this one. Kept it clean, and if you notice, the baker’s wife doesn’t make it (consequence to her behavior). Cinderella leaves the prince because of his waywardness. Lighten up! It was very well done and the good message to be learned is to be careful what you say cuz children listen.

  • Cindy

    I was v

  • Cindy

    I was very displease. The song Johnny Depp (the wolf) sounded like a pedophile song and the Prince sing “it is alright” to commit adultery. Definitely not a movie to take your kids to. It would have been better without these scenes. Walt Disney would roll over in his grave if he could see what they have turned his legacy in to!

  • Brent

    How we deal with life (and our) inconsistencies matters–and the characters in “ITTW”s are sorting that out as well. I think that you have over-thought this, and made a classic slippery-slope argument. If you internalize your own character-place in the film, would you be an overly judgmental, fearful character who misses the point—but elucidates confidently otherwise—maybe.

  • Katie

    Hi! I took my younger siblings to see the movie, when i was home visiting, with my husband (my younger sisters and brother range from 25 to almost 11). We all walked out of the movie with a bad taste in our mouth. Though I couldn’t quite put it as elegantly as you have when I was asked if I liked it, I had the same issues. When I was reading your thoughts I kept going “yes! That’s exactly it!” Thank you. I will be passing it on.

  • Lauren Rae

    You all do realize that “Into the Woods” was not a creation of Disney, right? Disney is simply turning what was already a Stephen Sondheim broadway musical production into a film. Stephen Sondheim is the same guy who produced the Broadway production of “Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”… These productions were never intended to be for children. “Into the Woods” is only intended as a -parody- of fairy tales for adults and older youth to laugh at, not a children’s story at all. Considering the source and all the sexual innuendo (i.e. the wolf), it is definitely not the kind of film I would even suggest taking an eleven year old to see. I actually probably would have rated it a PG-13 movie, but that’s just me. Just thought I would try to clear that up.

  • millers

    Do you realize that this isn’t “Disney”? It’s a movie version of a musical by Steven Sondheim. It is also deeply satirical.

    • millers

      I’ll also say this- the label “Disney” does not automatically mean the content is suitable for children, just as an animation does not automatically make the content suitable for children. Knowing it’s a Sondheim musical would have given one enough warning to realize that it should at least be screened by parents before they decide whether to let their children see it. It might also have adjusted your expectations to the spiritual or philosophical message. But I don’t think he was trying to give a sermon- he was using musical lyrics in a creative way to satirize fairy tales, nothing more. It’s adult entertainment, not meant for edification.

  • Grace

    Dr. Marshall, I’m a big fan of your work, but I must say I think the mistake here was in not doing your homework. Considering that Into the Woods is by Steven Sondheim, there’s no way this could’ve been appropriate for children. Not every movie made by the Disney studios is a children’s movie.

  • debbie richardson

    Sounds like watching this would be a great assignment for high school/college age who are taking philosophy in Christian college and before that, in discussion sessions in youth groups….with active discussions and not just watch it and what do you think….but maybe with your article as a guideline. Good post.

  • Beth Ann Vosskuhler-Waleski

    I enjoyed the film, but I admittedly did not go there to receive philosophical truth. I went there to see a well-written musical, and that it was. I am a musician, not a philosopher, after all. If all of our art needs to be philosophically correct, the woods will be silent, for no birds will sing.

  • Maria

    I am sorry, but you should have done your homework before taking your children. Disney has actually played down many key elements of Sondheim’s Broadway musical.

  • TalklouderitmeansURright

    Not a single mention of the, not even attempting to be subtle, gratification/glorification of pedophilia and the victim blame game??
    Here’s a sample of lyrics from Johnny Depp as the Wolf’s song “hello little girl” and Red Riding hood’s song “I know things now”

    From: Into The Woods – Hello Little Girl Lyrics | MetroLyrics

    [WOLF]
    “Mmmh…
    Uhhh…
    Look at that flesh,
    Pink and plump.
    Hello, little girl…
    Tender and fresh,
    Not one lump.
    Hello, little girl…
    This one’s especially lush,
    Delicious…
    Mmmh.”
    (skipped some lyrics here…)
    WOLF
    “Grandmother first,
    Then Miss Plump…
    What a delectable couple:
    Utter perfection-
    One brittle, one supple-
    One moment, my dear-!
    [LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD]
    Mother said,
    “Come what may,
    Follow the path
    And never stray.”
    [WOLF]
    Just so, little girl-
    Any path.
    So many worth exploring.
    Just one would be so boring.
    And look what you’re ignoring…
    Think of those crisp,
    Aging bones,
    Then something fresh on the palate,
    Think of that scrumptious carnality
    Twice in one day-!
    There’s no possible way
    To describe what you feel
    When you’re talking to your meal.”

    And Red Riding Hood’s answer back:

    From: Into The Woods – I know things now lyrics | MetroLyrics

    RED RIDING HOOD
    “I had been so careful,
    I never had cared.
    And he made me feel excited-
    Well, excited and scared.
    When he said, “Come in!”
    With that sickening grin,
    How could I know what was in store?
    Once his teeth were bared,
    Though, I really got scared-
    Well, excited and scared-
    But he drew me close
    And he swallowed me down,
    Down a dark slimy path
    Where lie secrets that I never want to know,
    And when everything familiar
    Seemed to disappear forever,”

    If you aren’t offended and dismayed by these song lyrics, you should be. And they were meant to convey these thoughts and ideas, read about it, check the quotes from Disney. I’m not reading anything into it…this is what they were meant to be. Disney said so as not to be too blatant with the pedophilia they used some flutes etc to make it more cheery. ARE YOU F”ing KIDDING ME????
    Trivializing CHILD MOLESTATION is not funny, nor witty, nor edgy…it is plain dispicable, disgusting, awful, gross.
    Those of you who want to expose your children to this, you might want to rethink your parenting skills, objectives…
    Just because people who make a living off pushing the envelope, and being fake say this is a good film does NOT mean it is!!

  • Sherry

    Wicked does the same thing with its lyrics….Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? (relativism) A man’s called a traitor or a liberator, a rich man’s a thief or philantropist….(again relativism), and “Just to clear the air, I ask forgiveness for all the things you blame me for…” Non apology. Disney trades on relativism.

    • Evan

      One of those lines is sung by the villain and is blatantly condemned by the musical. The other two are meant to express the uncertainty of two characters who have both transgressed moral boundaries, not suggest morality is subjective.

      I think Wicked does dabble in relativism, making the Witch the hero and the Wizard the villain, although she’s supposed to be a morally compromised hero and he’s a villain with a conscience, but the lines you quoted, if anything, support the opposite conclusion.

  • Nick Jones

    So, you took your kids to see a movie, without any research, and trusting that the ONLY versions of fairy tales end with happily ever after and are full of talking mice and were shocked and upset to see a thoughtful piece. You do realize that ALL fairy tales come from pagan roots and were developed as a way to instruct youth about the ultimate dangers of humanity and the world we live in? That this piece was originally conceived ON BROADWAY for an adult audience as a meta-narrative concerning the AIDS epidemic? That this is actually a far lighter and almost cheery version of the original show? And – uh-oh, your kids don’t get to live in the bubble of delight that whitewashed, terrified of reality (as evidenced by your religious beliefs),obliviousness? Well gee whiz, doesn’t my heart just bleed. Hey, make sure your daughters think they’re really princesses and that everything will work out just fine if they keep wishing on stars (or praying to your fake god). Because, hey, THAT will sure lead to a happy and well adjusted ending for them, too.

  • Cashel

    You are basing your whole argument of moral relativism on one line in one song of the movie. Did you finish the movie? Because the very last song also includes the line, “Wishes come true, not free.” This is the true driving force of the musical. Everyone in the first act is trying to get their hearts’ desires and are willing to do whatever they have to, including lie, cheat, and steal, in order to get it (and this is the act you’re okay with!)…..and then in act II they have to deal with the consequences of those actions, (the part we don’t normally get to see in classic Disney films). “The Woods” becomes a place of wish fulfillment where anything can happen (what sin leads us to believe is true), and it is only in escaping the Woods and returning to real life and dealing with the consequences of their actions that they are able to move forward and find redemption (aka, turning away from sin). The message of this movie is that we have to look beyond the surface (a charming, handsome man is different from a good one) and be careful about the choices we make because there will be consequences. All of these things are good things for our children to learn. As long as you do a little research on the musical that has been out for almost three decades before taking your children to see it, you should be able to decide when they are ready to see it. I will be allowing my children to see it when they are ready.

  • Kyle Minshew

    Okay. Disney never explicitly marketed this as a family friendly movie. It’s not their fault that you were not well versed in the source material. I knew Into The Woods quite well before seeing the film and I knew exactly what I was getting into. And this was toned down from the original musical. The Broadway show is much, much darker than that film. It’s a parable about the AIDS crisis Sondheim wrote during the 1980s and debuted in 1987. And the aftermath of dealing with tragedy that has no clear moral compass (unless you believe God put the AIDS virus out there on purpose) and the “families” which you form following the event of a completely senseless and unexplainable tragedy. I’m sorry you didn’t glean that interpretation from the film. And, no, Disney’s history of filmmaking does not make it beholden or oblidged to stick to a particular model just because it applies to your particular tastes. Or because you think they are espousing a non-religious, secular world-view. I don’t believe they ever signed a contract saying they were expected to only make films fitting into that mold. No everyone is required to make films that you like. Next time do your research and don’t expect the film industry or a studio to fit all of their films to your taste or else’s you’ll go on the internet and rant about it.

  • Rose

    I love the movie for its cleverness and the music and think it can be used to start a discussion about how ultimately disappointing such a life would be. I would decide what’s right and wrong based on the Word of God that guides my every decision. It’s typical Hollywood, though. The Castaway was another movie that brought that mindset to our attention: Can you imagine being a castaway on an island for four years or whatever and never once examining your life and your relationship with God? Hollywood did–most disappointing thing about that and too many other Hollywood offerings.

  • Concerned about the wolf

    These comments are all true but hasn’t anyone made notice of the wolf? 1) He is dressed like a pimp. 2) The way he talks about Red Riding Hood could be taken as the normal he is going to eat her but could also be taken as he wants to have his way with her. 3) After she is taken out of the wolf her language about how she is “changed” could be interpreted as meaning something sexual as well.

  • Matt Richardson

    I’m a very devout Christian, and I’m here to say this is the biggest overreaction to a musical I’ve ever seen. I don’t see “you are not alone” as a promotion for nominalism at all. I interpreted it as Cinderella and the baker telling the kids that at some point they must decide for themselves what they want to believe, because “mother isn’t here now”. The same is true for us as Christians, our parents won’t always be here to make us go to church and read our Bible, we must “decide what’s right” and look into what the Bible says on our own as we grow in the Word. I can kinda see where the author is coming from, but I feel like again he has overreacted in a big way.

  • Tristan Campbell

    You know what the most upsetting thing about this whole article is? The fact that you were somehow ignorant to the peice of highly praised, incredibly written theatre that is Into the Woods- confusing it for another Disney original just trying to be “soooo cool.” Then going on to tear it apart as something that should censor it’s (heavy quotes) “nominalistic” views so as to not clash with the theistic principles of an all-fated life? Is this Ancient Greece?
    I was raised watching things like this that taught me to think openly and freely. Are you afraid that your children may turn out like I am? “Nominalism leads to secularism and atheism?” That’s the saddest statement of it all.

  • Olivia_Newman

    Here’s a thought—do your research before hand!! Into the Woods is a VERY popular stage production and you can find a pretty comprehensive plot outline almost ANYWHERE–including the soundtrack!! I am an actor. I love the theatre. And I am SO TIRED of people not doing their homework before they take their children to shows-on stage or in a film adaption. Just because it is from Disney doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and roses. This is a remake of a DARK SHOW. The whole premise of the show is you have a choice, and there are consequences to your actions. You can choose your behavior, but not said consequence.
    If you don’t do your homework on a show you’re not familiar with beforehand and you end up being offended, THAT’S ON YOU.

    • Matt Richardson

      Beautifully put, one of the few logical posts on here…

      • Olivia_Newman

        Thanks. I just find it so ironic here that Dr. Marshall is taking issue with these characters not taking accountability and pointing fingers whereas this is exactly what he’s doing by not taking accountability for the fact he just assumed it would be ok because it was a Disney movie.

  • Just

    Disney did a great job portraying the play. Anything you have wrong with the play, deconstruct that, not the movie. For once, I’m glad Disney didn’t make it Disney and stuck with the actual story. Nothing bugs me more when companies make movies and they are nothing like the book/play

    • 501Venus

      Unfortunately they did tinker with it, they took away the fact the princes’ weren’t sincere, Rapunzel dies she was the reason the witch wants to be youthful & why she sings the songs as she does. Jack’s mother is clubbed by the steward, a violent act. The father of the baker is significantly removed from the play. He is the wiser one has lessons learned. The brief affair between Prince Charming & the baker’s wife. The interaction between Cinderella & Prince Charming explains the hurry up, now I’m bored situation between them. Yes, Disney did twist the consequences.

      • Just

        True, true. I know they did cut a lot out of the movie to make it shorter.

  • Hannah Gabrielle

    This is ridiculous. I understand being Christian, but changing your outlook over one wrong thing Disney did in this movie is wrong itself. It’s a mixture of all the best Disney movies from the past. All the director did was create them into one.. What good is a movie if it’s the same as the past? That’s why they change things up. Judging a movie because it has a sin in it is stupid. All movies, including Christian movies, like Fireproof and Courageous, sin. You can’t take your kids to see a movie with no sin. You won’t find one. Might as well stay home.

  • Suzanne Tucker

    You really missed the point of that song. It has NOTHING to do with Nominalism. It’s being to sung to children who have lost their parents…the people who might have guided them to know right from wrong…and the children now feel alone. The song tells them that they now have to figure out right from wrong for themselves…they decide. BUT they are not alone. The song encourages them to look at all sides of a situation, not just accept what the world may be saying to them. The handsome prince that we’re all told is so good, might not be. The ugly witch that we don’t understand might be acting out of misguided love for a child. Look deeper. Scratch the surface. Don’t accept without questioning. Then decide…but you are not alone. It’s a beautiful message and an opportunity for deep discussion that you obviously missed with your daughters. As the song also says “Someone is on your side. Someone else is not. While we’re seeing our side, maybe we forgot: they are not alone. No one is alone.”

    • Matt Richardson

      Exactly!! Even Christians will admit that you have to make a personal decision to follow Jesus, aka “deciding what’s right, deciding what’s good” the author is misguided in these points.

  • Sybian Rider

    perhaps the author would be better off sticking to Kirk Cameron films. I mean, if you limit your artistic consumption to those things that only fit your very limited worldview, you miss out on so much.

  • Garrett Butler

    You do realize that Disney did not did originally write Into the Woods? The is movie is based on the musical written by Sondheim and Lapine and is actually pretty accurate to original storyline of the musical. Had you been as scrupulous in your research as you were in writing this completely ridiculous and uneducated reviewer, you might have thought differently before taking your family to see this film. In that sense, I would like to know if you’ve actually researched the real stories behind a lot Disneys movies. In Hans Christian Anderson’s original Little Mermaid, the witch cuts her tongue out and she turns into sea foam at the end while her price marries someone else. Those is just one example..Ha, go ahead and look up the original story of Rapunzel and see if you have the same warm feeling as you did with Tangled. This movie was done extremely well and is a very accurate portrayal of the original message that the creators of the story intended and the real theme of the story, “Be careful what you wish for.”

  • Peace on Earth

    I took my 12 and 9 year old, all three of us left the theater in disappointment, and all we could say was “that was weird”.

  • cr

    I think you took what you heard WAY out of context. Nobody is challenging the philosophy of the world. The song is telling us that yes, there is evil in the world, but just because evil exists does not mean all things related are evil. Modern example: people’s hatred towards Islam.

  • Secular Sondheim fan

    I suppose you completely missed the AIDS parable, although Disney did muddle that message immensely, so I can hardly blame you. “You are not alone” is not about nominalism, it’s about survivor’s guilt and community support in light of tragedy. But good luck with your narrow minded world vision; I’m sure you and your children will miss an exponential amount of important subject matters because of it. Perhaps you should have payed more attention to “Children will listen”.

    Having said that, I probably shouldn’t be here. Feel free to delete my heathenish comment.

    • Matt Richardson

      It’s ironic that Christians are called to be open minded and to love their neighbor, yet it seems the majority of them are the most narrow minded people who refuse to think for themselves. There are times where I’m ashamed on behalf of my religion…

  • Holly

    Disney didn’t write “Into The Woods”…

  • John Zulauf

    Having suffered through a college “survey of modern literature” with an aggressively existentialist professor, one thing I learn to look for in modern writing is the “god is dead” moment. That moment when a powerful, influential, significant and male figure dies in, is discredited in, or is removed from the story, creating a moral quandary, or removing moral constraint.

    Having watched the 1987 version (with Bernadette Peters), I remember noting at least 5 “god is dead” moments in Into the Woods including the abandonment of the baker by his father, the death of the father, the death of the narrator, the adultery of the prince, and the death of the chamberlain.

    In many ways “Into the Woods” is the quintessential modern and post modern work. The subtext removes all powerful male figures, discredits all establishment power, leaving the arbitrary post-modern nomialistic moral result. This mars a brilliant work, but reflects the core of 20C secular philosophy. It’s certainly a good conversation starter, but the response should probably include a good dose of Francis Schaeffer….

  • Tim Smith

    I respectfully disagree :
    10 Reasons why I think every Catholic should experience
    INTO THE WOODS
    The Sondheim/Lapine musical INTO THE WOODS, premiered on Broadway in 1987. In
    December the Disney version came out and Seton Catholic Preparatory High School is performing it in February, opening Feb 6th. It is the retelling of four familiar Grimm fairy tales (Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack & the Beanstalk) added to a new tale (the Childless Baker and his wife) and what happens after “happily ever after.

    THE TITLE “Into the Woods” is a metaphor for the human experience of going into a place of transformation. In the musical, the characters go into the woods for a variety of reasons: to make a potion, to kill the giant or to find their prince… and all are changed by the experience/encounter. Their fears, wishes, true intentions and identities are all stripped away and they are forced to grow up and make hard choices. Much like a weekend or silent retreat ( or Lent or Jesus’ Temptation in the desert for 40 days), this place is new, scary, dangerous and life changing. When an injured person is in the hospital and their condition is described as, “Well he is not quite out of the woods ” we all know what that means.
    NO ONE IS ALONE This title of the closing ballad sums up one of the strongest messages in the show. Just as Jesus assured his disciples that He will always be with them (Matthew 28:20), the characters reassure each other that, no matter what, despite parental mistakes, death, and tragedy, we are never truly alone.
    CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES How far are we willing to go to get what we want? The characters in INTO THE WOODS make wishes and then choices to make those wishes come true. Those choices are often immoral choices with painful consequences. Jack steals, the Prince/Bakers wife are unfaithful and these actions have repercussions that are costly.
    IT TAKES TWO… Sacramental marriage is our model for family life and the Baker and his wife are an excellent example of a couple who is trying to live out their “sacrament”. They face all kinds of common challenges from infertility to annoying neighbors to petty everyday irritations. And yet they discover that, like all couples, while they argue and disagree and get angry with each other, they do love each other and recognize how their love and relationship deepen with all the struggles.
    YOU DECIDE WHAT’S RIGHT/GOOD: THE PRIMACY OF CONSCIENCE In the Catechism of the Church 1776-90, we have a rich teaching on conscience. In the climax of the show, Cinderella and the Baker both advise the young ones in their care to make decisions for themselves and follow their consciences, always knowing Someone is on their side…
    ITS YOUR FAULT One of the first sins of Adam and Eve is to blame. It’s a human weakness that goes way back. When things go bad or wrong, our first impulse is to point the finger at someone or something that will take away the responsibility from us. Towards the end of the show, the 5 “survivors” sing a remarkable musical version of the “blame game”.
    CAREFUL THE THINGS YOU SAY: CHILDREN WILL LISTEN Every Baptism class, Catholic school and RE class is rooted in the teaching that parents are the primary catechists of their children. While struggling to pass on his legacy to his newborn son, the Baker is told (by the Witch) to be careful in your words and actions because children “may not obey but children will listen. Careful the things you do, children will see and learn. Children will look to you for which way to turn, to learn what to be…”

    THEY DISAPPEAR, THEY DISAPPOINT, THEY DIE BUT THEY DON’T The voices of our beloved dead, (especially the saints) live on in our minds and hearts. The words of our mothers and fathers never leave our consciousness and continue to guide us long after their earthly life is through. (SPOILER ALERT!) Even though the Baker’s wife, the Mysterious Man and Jack’s Mother die in the Second Act, their words of wisdom continue on into the Finale.
    TRANSFORMATION Most of the characters in INTO THE WOODS are transformed in the course of the musical. Some are transformed by drinking a magic potion, some are transformed by their experiences in the woods and some by the tragedies that happen to them. Life’s events either “form” us or deform us or transform us. In other words, we can be disfigured (by our crosses) or transfigured, (as in the Transfiguration) by them. The key is our response.
    PEOPLE MAKE MISTAKES, FATHERS, MOTHERS. The parenting skills of the mothers and fathers in INTO THE WOODS are quite dysfunctional. Parents, bishops and priests are not perfect. That is why we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the end, we do the best we can. We make “terrible mistakes”, we pray, we ask for forgiveness, we forgive ourselves and we move on…into the woods.

    Tim Smith is a Catholic, a husband, a father, a musician and a juggling accordion player who serves as music director at St Mary’s Parish in Chandler and an instructor at Seton Catholic Preparatory High School. His e-mail is tsmith@setoncatholic.org.

  • Mark

    This is hysterical! And absolutely what the authors intended – to end Act 1 with everything happy, and then start a deeper discussion about what really happens when people get their wishes. Our desires have consequences (“you are not alone”) and it’s only by being aware of that and working together can we solve our problems. Your desire to have the film end on a shallow happy ending is exactly the kind of simple-minded thinking they were warning people about. Sondheim and Lapine would be very happy that they made you think!

  • chuckschulz

    Anyone who calls Into the Woods a “philosophically pernicious Disney movie” somehow missed the memo that it is not a Disney story at all, any more than Les Miserables is a Universal story.

    I don’t think that’s all he missed. It’s a fantastic musical. It’s very deep, very real. The whole point, as I see it, is that fairy tales are lies and that princes are egotistical and creepy. (And looking at Prince Anderew in England, who could argue?) And of course, along the way you get some awesome Sondheim.

    I haven’t seen the Disney take yet. But I’m looking forward to being subverted.

    • Matt Richardson

      You won’t be disappointed, they changed small things here and there, but it’s very satisfying.

  • chuckschulz

    Anyone who calls Into the Woods a “philosophically pernicious Disney movie” somehow missed the memo that it is not a Disney story at all, any more than Les Miserables is a Universal story.

    I don’t think that’s all he missed. It’s a fantastic musical. It’s very deep, very real. The whole point, as I see it, is that fairy tales are lies and that princes are egotistical and creepy. (And looking at Prince Andrew in England, who could argue?) And of course, along the way you get some awesome Sondheim.

    I haven’t seen the Disney take yet. But I’m looking forward to being subverted.

  • guest

    I plan to take all my children ages 3 – 12 years old and let Disney influence them with great visual effects. Then we’ll talk about it with no visual effects. Every movie Hollywood puts out is worthy to bring our children to their alter and sacrifice their minds with fascinating visual effects and we’ll just talk about it after we see it. When my children are teenagers and don’t want to be with “family” I’m sure they’ll see other things that will influence their minds and values that Hollywood wants. Yes, all Christians need to take their children to the great Hollywood movies and talk about it. It sure is easier than reading God’s word and talking about it!

  • rich mumm

    I think the world is a combination of realism and nominalism. Certainly there IS an objective reality underlying all created things. However, there are distinct LEVELS of perception about that reality that usher the aspiring student of creation into deeper and more revealing realms of truth. As we now know–the subjective reality of our great grandfathers was shattered at the turn of the 20th century by the insights of Einstein and then those of Planck, Bohr, Heisenberg and a host of others. After Relativity and Quantum Mechanics took hold, “reality” was never quite the same.

    What I’m saying is that, what we see and believe about objective reality has a profound effect on our individual interaction with the creation–and in aggregate across all humankind, with the course of human history. I would even allow that to a small, but still unknown extent, our perceptions of objective reality may actually ALTER that underlying reality in some ways. Now I’m not trying to get all spooky here–I’m simply acknowledging that we do not know everything there is to know about mankind’s perception, his ability to interact at the deepest levels with the physical universe or the authority to do so–granted by his Maker–and I’m willing to suspend judgment on what may be a vast new world of reality awaiting the understanding of whoever is intrepid and perceptive enough to look through the next keyhole in the next doorway of existence.

    I absolutely agree that the intent of this movie and of so many others, is to transmit the world view of those creative geniuses who brought the story to life. It is inescapable that the authors and performing artists could pour so much of themselves into the production without leaving the philosophical and theological fingerprints of who they are all over the “scene of the crime.”

    The Spirit of God opens one’s eyes and mind to the deeper intent of productions such as this. It’s fortunate for you and your loved ones that you were discerning enough to recognize the meta-message of this engaging child’s entertainment. Hoping that you are able to convey to your children the true message of the creation and the Creator and to give the lie to those subtle and seductive false doctrines that would put man in the seat of his God–to the peril of his soul.

  • sara

    I can’t fault Disney.. because of them, we have Sugar Bowl. And I’ll be up there this weekend. Which of you has created a beautiful ski resort for me to ski on? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Go back to your small, insignificant business.

  • sara

    Oh, come on. My comment was perfectly relevant. It shows that you are all focusing on the wrong things in life.

  • sara

    It’s not real journalism if you just delete whatever doesn’t suit you!!!

    • goldushapple

      How is the combox “real journalism”? It’s his blog so he can choose to monitor the combox as he pleases.

  • Josiah Murphy

    I agree that this was all present in the movie and will attempt to prove to the extent you are right and how you should have been so wrong.
    In the play Into the Woods there is only one notable difference from the movie, and that difference is glaring, blatant, and mind boggling. It turns the play from a condemnation of human willfulness and arrogance to a glorification of those very things. The one thing that was removed was the purpose of the witch’s spell.
    The spell in the play was no vane attempt to regain lost beauty. No, the reason every element of the story was needed was because the spell, when cast, magically bound the author of the story, the narrator, into the fabric of the story where he was summarily killed by the giantess. This death leads to the unraveling of everything that could be seen as a happy ending in each of the stories.
    The take away at that point is that in our vane attempts at freedom from God and his divine plan, we only discover more and more the fallen state of the world and the wickedness of man.
    Once again, I agree with your assessment of the movie and believe it would be a very different review of the play.

  • Richard Stretton

    Not seen the movie adaptation yet, but I’d imagine from this article that it is pretty close to the original musical theatre piece.

    I don’t see how you can complain about the ending. So it doesn’t finish with everyone smelling of roses – deal with it. Theatre, in fact art in general, is the composer/creator telling THEIR story. It isn’t written with an audience in mind in particular, it is just made through pure expression of one’s soul. I know this because I myself am a musican (actually work in musical theatre as a musical director).

    Going to see a “Disney” film shouldn’t just automatically make you think its going to be appropriate every time to a certain age and demographic. Companies are allowed to produce whatever kind of movie or art work they choose. You can’t, and shouldn’t, make decisions for someone else on what they want to do with their lives/companies.

    I say, next time do some research – and don’t just whine about it on a blog.

    • goldushapple

      Blogs are source to practice free speech. It’s his blog so it’s his choice to “whine.”

  • Stephen M Anderson

    I
    do think It’s interesting that he casually mentions Helm’s Deep. If you
    have read the Lord of the Rings books, there is no happily ever after.
    The Hobbits return to the shire to find it in flames, controlled by
    Sauromon. While LOTR isn’t an allegory, It reflected Tolkien’s
    disillusionment (and that of society at large) after coming home from
    World War One. After seeing how thoroughly the world had been torn
    apart, and how little power the “Absolute Monarchs” had to protect the
    lives of their citizens (Russia and Germany were both ruled by their
    language’s equivalent of a Caesar) the narrative of society changed to
    one that was uncomfortable with a archetypal meta-narrative ending in a
    happily ever after. Ever since, there has been a struggle between people
    who write stories of escapism, and stories that reflect our more
    disillusioned reality. I think I disagree with this guy’s point that
    Realism is equivalent to a worldview that is composed of moral
    absolutes. There are some moral absolutes, but I think there is also a
    lot of grey in this world. I think at the end of the day, people (and
    fairy tale people) do bad things to each other, and when that happens,
    we have to accept that those bad things have happened, and figure out
    how to turn it into a positive. For example, an earthquake is a “Bad”
    thing if it was your house that was destroyed, but it’s how you move
    forward from there that shapes the course that the rest of your life
    takes. So sometimes in order to continue living, you have to operate as
    if good and bad are subjective, even if you know that to be false.

  • zurvan

    I had no idea that the notion of Platonic forms is Catholic dogma. You learn something new every day. Of course, such forms are completely beyond our capacity to know and therefore irrelevant to our lives as anything other than an object of speculation, even if they do exist. Which is, ultimately, the dilemma of God’s existence as well.

  • Barbi

    I was excited to see this film, however with children in tow I was not pleased to explain the taboos this film depicted. I was sorely saddened for this is what entertainment has become. The young impressionable minds of our youth receive enough garbage in life to sift through why are we spoon feeding it to them through cinematic entertainment as well.. if they so needed to make this film geared for an adult mind to ponder why not just do that and not advertise it for children with a PG rating. The bit where the bakers wife sings about having her ” husband to bake, her child for warmth, and a prince for…” My nine year old said mom I do not like this she is cheating that is not right..our children understand much more than we think and I was appalled. My daughter wanted to just go do something else instead of finish the film. I couldn’t agree with her more.

  • Jeff Bowles

    I hope your daughters were as impressed with your boorish academician behavior as the rest of us. You blew the chance to discuss a basic idea, that “happily ever after” is not the end of the story.

  • Voltrax

    This movie was the biggest waste of time I can remember. I cringed throughout the movie and at the end I was squirming in my seat. I wanted to walk out, but stayed out of respect for my wife who was with me and nominally enjoying the movie. I mean it was so bad that Walt Disney would never have let this piece of crap be released. It is an abomination. It could not be saved by Meryl Streep, who was reasonably good, but could not save this horrible movie from itself. Avoid it at all costs. It is $21.00 lost and two hours out of my life that I will never get back.

  • Andrew Dawson Smith

    The first half of this movie, which the reviewer praises, is explicitly about wish-fulfillment, and shows us what the characters have to do to reach their “happy endings.”

    The second half is about the reality and consequences of those “happy endings,” as well as the consequences of the actions the characters took to get there. In the end, the characters learn that life is complicated, nobody is blameless, working together is the only way to survive, and that being “nice” is different from being “good.” Oh, and that we should be careful in what we teach our children, as our lessons will instruct their actions in ways we can’t predict.

    It’s instructive that our reviewer praises the pablum of the first half while rejecting the messages of the second half, which very, very closely mirror those of the Gospel.

    Believe what you will, live how you will, and I hope you shall prosper. This man is a charlatan, however.

  • questions

    Have you ever considered that exposing your kids to different views may help them think for themselves and not swallow everything fed to them? Or do you consider every opposing view Satans work, and therefore unfit for children?

    • goldushapple

      Yea, because people like ‘question’ are totally knowledgeable about opposing views and don’t spout strawman and presume that Christian’s think everything is immoral is “Satan’s work.”

  • goldushapple

    Almost 300+ comments. It got all the butt hurt fans out.

  • Chris A

    I realize this is a long post, but I liked this movie very much and was happy to see some analysis of it. Into The Woods is so beautifully complex that it lends itself to many viewpoints, though I think your reaction misses some of its deeper lessons.

    First, as has been stated in other posts here, simply because this is a Disney movie about fairy tales doesn’t mean that it is suitable for children. The Grimm fairy tales are, well, grim. Though Into The Woods has some good lessons for a younger audience, it is ultimately geared toward adults.

    As far as your argument for Realism, to end this movie with the wedding would have seriously ignored the larger story and would have veered away from Realism and into Nominalism. It would have turned a blind eye to the beans, the curse of the witch, and the giants, which together,
    drive the entire narrative. The happiness of the wedding was a façade; a wrong hadn’t been addressed. Jack had stolen the giant’s harp and had killed the giant as he was coming down the beanstalk to reclaim it. Much like the characters in the book of Genesis, Jack had overstepped his boundaries. At first he had taken from the giant in order to provide for himself and his mother, but in an effort to impress those around him, namely Red Riding Hood, he proceeded to take more than he needed in the form of the golden egg and harp. These choices force him to kill the giant, which results in the vengeance of the giant’s wife, which results in the death of Jack’s mother. Similarly, the baker’s father exhibited greed when he stole the magic beans from the witch’s garden in
    addition to the greens that his pregnant wife needed. The stealing of the beans is what leads the
    witch’s mother to curse her with ugliness, and the witch to then curse the baker’s family with childlessness, which leads to the rather arbitrary quest of the baker and his wife in the woods.

    So, there are very clear, realistic boundaries in this movie – of right vs. wrong, of being content with what you have vs. wanting and taking more than you need, and of understanding how the choices we make impact those around us and those to come after us vs. acting as if we are acting alone. The characters who are left after the giant’s wife wreaks havoc on the kingdom survive only because they make the right choices. The baker and Cinderella were two characters who hadn’t fallen into the trap of excess. They reject the bad, they end the blame game, and they embrace the good, hence the line “you decide what’s right, you decide what’s good”. This is not a refutation
    of the way of God, but rather of the misguided, seemingly innocent, decisions that had been made. So, they make the decision to finally get it right and not to propagate the wrongs that have been
    done. They take responsibility for the “garden”, or woods, they had inherited and they create a new family, or order, based on this philosophy. This is Realism. They do the hard and quite dangerous
    work of addressing the wrong – the desire for excess and taking what didn’t belong to them – that was embodied in the giant’s wife, whom Jack himself slayed.

    This wasn’t Nominalism. It was quite the opposite. The story and subsequent lessons the baker
    and Cinderella will pass along to the children do not jive with our popular approach to fairy tales where we tend to gloss over the subtleties of the narrative. The lessons force us to grapple with the various “giants” we create as a result of bad decisions, both long past and present. The lessons are
    real, not blissfully ignorant, and not arbitrary or relativistic.

  • kim kurt

    i thought it was an exercise in moral relativity and trying to place the blame for things like child abuse on the victim-disgusting!

  • KTB

    Thanks for the critique. I know that Disney is a cash cow for the Freemasons. Don’t buy stock. Many of their movies hold coded metaphors, eg, the baker’s wife having a baby is a woman with a bun in the oven or more likely, a surrogate producing a human clone, which is what the Masons are doing these days and have been since pre-1985, according to a 30 degree Mason I’ve chatted with online. Their movies are used to portray real life situations among the ‘brotherhood’ in coded form. Each of the characters would be a known person to them via a certain symbol or name or metaphor. They’re good at it. Shakespeare used to do the same with his plays.

    Nominalism is exactly what Modernism and Postmodernism is today; hatched up by European Masonic aristocrats in the 17th century. That’s interesting, it’s dated pre-Plato and Socrates. Pre-Greece would be Egypt? Back to the occultism of ancient Egypt, the basis of modern Freemasonry.

    Yes, it is dangerous to take children to Disney movies. They do put subliminal messages into their movies for the extra-malleable minds of kids. They grow up to think Dad is just a fuddy-duddy old time thinker as the times change to conform with Freemasonic philosophies and peer pressures. Dangerous. Again, don’t buy stock. Their movies are phenomenal along with their PR campaigns. They’ve been perfecting the movie business for decades and use the best techniques to overwhelm the viewer into thinking they are fantastic along with the people they represent.

    They also use massive PR campaigns to persuade, if not brainwash, people to go to see and love the films. Advertising was founded in early 1900s by an American psychologist, Watson, who used Pavlov’s dogs technique to lure people into buying products. That has been perfected also now, especially with the use of advanced technology. It’s all a con; to brainwash you; make you accept their beliefs; change your lives to follow those concepts; and give them your money to make them richer and make more brainwashing propaganda.

    Take your kids horse riding, skiing or fishing instead. Or teach them how to write their own stories and plays and entertain the neighbourhood. They’ll love that even more.

  • Connie R

    I loved the first part, but fell out of love towards the last half. For me, fairy tales still reflect good triumphing evil, good defeating the bad, and mom and dads staying faithful to their respective spouses (this is currently my reality!). I won’t recommend this movie to anyone.

  • Donnie Cianciotto

    Do you have any idea who Stephen Sondheim is? Do you think that Into the Woods is a Disney creation? I imagine you’re too busy with your ignorant views to be cultured.

  • L. Plante

    I see your point and agree. But if you take the lyrics from “No one is alone” and splice them, you get something that is hidden and true. “People make mistakes, Everybody makes, Fathers, Mothers, People make mistakes. Hard to see the light now, Just don’t let it go, Things will come out right now, We can make it so, Someone is on your side, No one is alone.” A beautiful message for those who have suffered from the mistakes of parents, family, or anyone. The message is hope, that in this we are never alone. The ‘Light’ our God is with us, don’t let him go, he is on our side, we are never alone, things will come out right. It is a call to ‘Hope’, one of the 3 precious virtues.

  • Lily

    The production has more ‘unhappy’ endings, but it isn’t shown in the Movie. In the original production, Rapunzel dies by the giant. Rapunzels prince doesn’t care much, and even before she dies Cinderella and Rapunzel’s Princes sing Agony Reprise. Agony is sung twice in ‘Into The Woods’, but agony reprise is not about Rapunzel and Cinderella, it’s about ‘young maidens’ they met in similar ways named Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Meaning, they already are tired of their actual wives. At the end, Rapunzels Prince turns into Snow White’s Prince and Cinderellas Prince turns into Sleeping beauty’s Prince. I’m assuming they had to cut Agony Reprise out due to the vulgar lyrics.

  • Acab6

    Wow. We nearly had the same conversation as we watched this movie last night. My 8 year old son said “wait” when the prince kissed the bakers wife. My 13 year old daughter was disappointed/angry. They other 2 asked “what’s happening”. I responded like you. They are committing adultery (essentially in my children’s understanding). All were confused inuding me. I grappled with understanding that the movie is possibly trying to add some realism to all the “Cinderella endings” and strengthen the notion that life is not going to be perfect. But like this! I was so surprised that I was frozen!
    Then that song! There IS right and wrong. We don’t just decide for ourselves! Ugg.
    I kicked myself for not looking up family reviews before watching this movie. I immediately went to common sense media – they endorsed it! I went to Focus on the Family – endorsed! They did mention the extra marital kisses and temptation but ignored the final relativistic song which closes the film!
    Thank you for this post. At least there are others who see how these messages are not even subtle and becoming a part of our children’s world view if we are not paying attention as parents. I hate to have to screen PG movies! We love movies time as a family But as they mature, it seems less and less will be watchable rather that more. The availability of quality movies is few.

  • Ayla Meridian

    I have just read your excellent review of this film. I took the same issue with the ending of this film (namely the nominalist/relativistic prosthelatising).

    Obviously there are certain truths about the world (I.e some things are objectively morally wrong) however I am an atheist (humanist/secularist/agnostic whatever term one chooses). I think you may need to reassess your final conclusion that nominalism leads to atheism – in fact many philosophically and scientifically learned atheists tend to feel exactly the se way about nominalism as you do.

  • Denice Weaver

    I totally agree with you. Absolutely destroyed the dreams of happily ever after and the whole idea of you decide what’s good certainly leads to a lawless and unsafe society. When I watch a movie like this I want happily ever after please. If wishes come true the bakers wife should have come back to life just like the cow did! And the Prince…… How disappointing! What about his wishes. This story will never replace the hopes and dreams of the originals. I would have been happy about sitting through the merge of the stories in song if only the story had remained more or less true to the original fairy tales. It shattered my happy little get away from it all in a movie world.

  • k h c

    I enjoyed this article; there were many good points, excellent points. Much of the commentary is humorous; seems to be meant to be entertaining more than anything else. It seems so many of us easily run through life not really “thinking” about things. We “hear” but we don’t “listen.” This article made me concentrate and “listen.” I’ve seen the dvd televised version of “Into the Woods” several times and did not spend so much time and effort to think about the presentation and meanings of the story. I am so glad to have read it

  • Angelica

    I have to agree, when I went out and saw this for a laugh after my concussion, I got a very different move then I expected. At first, the cheery songs, loud music and overly-colorful scenery gave me a headache and I thought to myself “classic Disney movie.” Then, BAM! Disney delivers a darker message of all the things that are wrong with the world and there is no happy-ever after! Geesh, Disney, I came to laugh some, not to be traumatized. It’s a good film to show your more serious teenagers or young adults, not children, definitely not children. Afterwords at a home-viewing discuss how they thought it was going to end and what themes and concepts they saw. Heck, if I was an English teacher I could show this to students and have them find a whole buttload of themes and philosophies.

  • Dave Farrell

    Thanks for the review. You never know what the culture will throw up on you with, be always ready.