Rachel Paige
December 22, 2014 12:27 pm

Want to know what my favorite equation is? It’s super simple: Disney + Stephen Sondheim musical + Anna Kendrick x Emily Blunt x (Chris Pine +Prince) = Into the Woods. The musical finally drops into theaters on Christmas Day and there’s so much buzz about it; Into the Woods, so hot right now.

But, this isn’t your typical run-of-the-mill Disney musical. Oh no, this is a completely different fruit off the fairytale tree. So before you drag your entire family to the movie over the holiday weekend, what exactly do you need to know about Into the Woods before you see it? Here, we answer all your burning questions—judgement-free.

Is this, like, a Disney story?

No. Not really. While it appears that Disney does have a monopoly over characters like Cinderella and Rapunzel, the story was not born out of the Mouse House — but the studio is producing it, so I can see why some might assume it’s strictly Disney. Into the Woods is based on the idea of “once upon a time,” but no actual Disney characters. These are completely different characters, all coming from Stephen Sondheim’s 1986 musical of the same name.

Wait, who’s Stephen Sondheim?

He’s a big name in musical theater. Ever heard of West Side Story? A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum? Company? You’ve definitely heard of Sweeny Todd, right? Sondheim did all of them. He’s got eight Tonys, more than anyone else. No big deal. And the only award he’s missing from his EGOT is an Emmy, but he does have a Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Once again, no big.

Is Into the Woods all happy and bright and musical-like?

Don’t let the singing and dancing fool you, Into the Woods is not your average musical. It’s dark, really dark. It takes place AFTER our favorite characters have gotten their supposed happy endings. Basically, it raises the inevitably haunting question: what happens when your happy ending comes true? As we learn over the course of the musical, happy endings aren’t always what they seem.

So who’s in it, again?

Aside from our sheer love for Anna Kendrick, the cast also boasts Emily Blunt (The Baker’s wife), Johnny Depp (The Wolf), Meryl Streep (The Witch), Chris Pine (Cinderella’s Prince), Christine Baranski (Cinderella’s stepmother), and Tracey Ullman (Jack’s mother). That’s a lot of musical talent wrapped up in one single cast.

And can ALL those stars really sing?

Hell to the yes. The big musical surprises come from Emily Blunt and Chris Pine. Who knew these glorious famous people could carry a tune? Emily’s husband, John Krasinski didn’t even know. And Chris Pine defends himself saying that he’s more of a “shower singer” than anything else. So not true. Listen up:

Is this movie the length of the musical?

The original musical clocks in at just about three hours. Don’t worry, the movie is not three hours, bur rather a nice solid two hours — even though I feel like we’ll be wishing for another hour once it’s over.

Aside from the length, is it exactly like the musical?

Good question. Fans were in uproar this past summer when Disney started leaking some minor plot changes to the musical, mostly to cut down on the running time — oh, and to make it a little bit happier. The musical has lots of adult undertones (read: some sexual stuff, not suitable for a PG audience) so some of those have been completely cut, while others slightly altered. While what exactly has changed remains to be seen, it doesn’t sound like anything too major. Besides, Sondheim has been involved in the whole process of the movie, working right alongside of director Rob Marshall. Marshall made Chicago come alive on the big screen, I feel like we can trust him.

Is it natural to absolutely love this movie before you’ve even seen it?

It is and I’m living proof. I’m already in love with this movie. I’ll admit, I tried — and failed — to watch the stage musical of Into the Woods while it was streaming on Netflix (the version with Bernadette Peters, which is sadly gone from the site right now). There’s something about watching a tape of a stage show that’s kind of hard to sit through. But, this epic and sprawling cinematic masterpiece? Yes please. From the trailer, to the clips of Anna Kendrick singing, to the simple fact that Meryl Streep is in the movie, I am all about this theatrical experience. What you need to know about it before you see it, is that your mind is going to be blown.

So wake up nice and early Christmas morning, because you’ve got to get through present exchanges, a mid-afternoon feast, the present and dinner clean-up, and THEN you’ve got to get yourself to a theater ASAP.

(Images via here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

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