Into the Woods

INTO THE WOODS is out on Blu-ray, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere this week, and I think it’s a must-see for families with tweens and teens who love musicals. We love Stephen Sondheim musicals, but they aren’t for the very young — they’re dark and complicated and tragic. This isn’t a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, and the filmmakers wisely toned down some of the more sexual references and one super suggestive/creepy (but awesome) song in the original musical. For kids old enough to understand that fairy tales don’t always get happily ever afters, INTO THE WOODS is ideal, because it’s so smartly written and beautifully performed.

With its all-star ensemble cast led by Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, and James Corden, INTO THE WOODS is visually dazzling, entertaining, and impressive. As my colleague Jho at Common Sense Media said in her review: “Fans of Stephen Sondheim’s beloved musical have nothing to fear from this finely tuned and beautifully rendered cinematic version. The set will draw you in; the music, as expected, will leave you at once melancholy and thoughtful; and the acting will surprise and please.”

Here’s a clip about Meryl Streep — aka The Greatest of Actress of Her Generation — as the Witch:


Check out this behind-the-scenes look at concept art used by triple-Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (ALICE IN WONDERLAND, CHICAGO, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA). Concept art is particularly interesting for kids with a curiosity about how films are made, and what a collaborative process every movie is — the costumes being a huge part of the overall look of a movie, especially a fantasy musical like INTO THE WOODS.

And if you’re interested in some other musicals to watch once they’ve already seen THE SOUND OF MUSIC 150 times, here are three several more “next step up” musicals:

WEST SIDE STORY: Romeo and Juliet meets 1950s Manhattan in this amazing retelling featuring a Puerto Rican girl named Maria and her poor, white love, Tony. The only downside is that Natalie Wood, as beautiful as she was, didn’t actually sing.

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF: My 10-year-old daughter and I went to see it live on her birthday, and she loved it. She had all these wonderful questions about religion, tradition, history, and matchmaking afterward.

GREASE: Maybe wait until they’re actual teens, but if they’re not, they may not pick up on all the sexual innuendo, but it’s definitely there! Still, it’s such a great musical for teens, with catchy songs and a hilarious throw-back setting.


When she’s not watching movies, Sandie re