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Parents' Guide to

Into the Woods

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Sondheim's fairy tale musical is dark, complex, sublime.

Movie PG 2014 124 minutes
Into the Woods Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 93 parent reviews

age 16+

One of the worst films we have ever seen

This is a terrible movie! It is inappropriate for children and should be rated much higher. The songs and dialogue include words such as "rape" and "abuse." The themes are extremely dark - for example, the wolf stalks the young girl and the fact he is a man, not a real wolf, actually makes it scarier. There is a creepy pedophile/sexual predator overtone to what he says about her and her "flesh." I couldn't believe it got through censors. When the wolf is in the bed pretending to be granny he looks super scary, like a zombie or a corpse. My 8-year-old son, who has seen scary films like Jurassic Park and been totally fine, asked me to fast forward, and he is not scared of anything. There are lots of other scary moments of witches suddenly dropping out of tress etc but worse are the really dark scary themes of murder, kidnapping etc. One other shocking moment is when the stepmother cuts off the toes and heels of her daughters, with a knife! This is definitely not a scene for a children's movie. The characters call Jack "dim witted" and it's very mean and sends a message that kids who are not academic or intellectual are stupid and a nuisance to others. The characters do a lot of immoral and exploitative things - tricking others, lying, stealing, adultery... the list goes on. Not only is the film inappropriate and scary, but even if you are an adult who wouldn't be bothered by that, the songs are soooo long and boring and stagey. The music is really annoying. I can't understand who this film is for. It's not for kids, because it's super inappropriate, dark and scary. But how can it be a film for adults? It's about fairy tales. To give context we have watched other "dark" films that we liked, such as Nightmare Before Christmas, and this is very different from that - a much poorer quality film, and far more adult content. Do not watch this!!! Can't believe Disney approved it and all these famous actors were in it. It's a massive flop.
age 6+

Not the best but it’s okay

Some of these reviews are over dramatic. In no way should this movie be rated PG-13 or R. The front cover shows that this movie is a little dark. This is like a combination of multiple stories. It’s not overly scary. The wolf is not a pedophile. If people remember the story, he's after Little Red Riding Hood to eat her, not do anything disgusting. People have sick thoughts. The wolf is creepy but not in a pedophilic way. That being said, it’s easy to get lost in the story if you’re not paying attention. There’s a lot of singing, which isn’t everyone’s idea of a good movie. It’s very long, so young ones may not be able to sit through it. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but this is not a bad film. I don’t think this movie was specifically made for kids ages 6 and under, hence the PG rating. Kids who like dark fairy tales, musicals and singing will like this movie.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (93 ):
Kids say (121 ):

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. The weakest link, if he can be called that, is actually Depp, who could have benefited from a touch of understatement. But almost everyone else is a delight: Streep, especially -- despite having been in scores of memorable movies for decades -- reminds us that she has the power to morph into something we've yet to see. She amazes. And Pine proves he has a gift for comedy in the hilarious song "Agony."

But best of all is Sondheim's music: It's complicated and compelling. This is no run-of-the-mill children's musical. Though it may sport a stylized (and gorgeously rendered) set, the music grounds Into the Woods in a truly human -- and humane -- scale. Musicals don't often teach nuanced life lessons. But if, as one song goes, "children will listen," they'll hear plenty of words to guide them here.

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