Into the Woods: Movie vs. Musical

Into the Woods: Movie vs. Musical

Isabella DeCunzo, Staff Writer

This year our school is putting on the production of Into the Woods Jr. I have been a big fan of Into the Woods for a while and have seen it on stage and in theaters. There is also the full stage version on YouTube with the original 1991 cast. It was an amazingly written show with good music and comedy. But which production was better? In my mind, there is a clear winner, so here is why the 1991 stage production is a million times better than the movie. Or me dissing the Into the Woods movie for 5 paragraphs.

I’ll start off with casting. For the movie, they casted a bunch of famous actors instead of basing it off talent. Like I understand Emily Blunt as the baker’s wife, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and Meryl Streep as the witch, but Johnny Depp? Really?! His character is supposed to be funny, but he just made the wolf creepy, and made me as an audience member feel very uncomfortable. And why do they keep putting James Corden in movie musicals? No offense to James Corden stans but they could have had someone better play the baker. Also, Jack is supposed to be played by an adult for the sake of comedy. His mother is supposed to treat him like a kid even though he is clearly old enough to be on his own. 

There are also 2 missing main characters, or should I say 1. The narrator is supposed to be a separate character and not the baker until the end of the show. Then there is the mysterious man missing. In the musical he causes a chain of events that leads to him feeding corn hair to the cow and dying in order to let his son bring new life into the world. The narrator and mysterious man are played by the same person in most productions to show he is the one telling his son’s story and interfering at the right parts so the story goes along smoothly. Until they feed him to the giant, but I’ll get to that right now.

The Into the Woods movie isn’t funny. It’s missing a lot of the key comedy points that let the musical make fun of fairy tales. Like they take the narrator hostage and feed him to the giant to protect themselves which is comedy gold and a major plot point. It shows how selfish they are and makes them have to make their own decisions instead of following the story. It also misses the comedy of how Jack’s mom treats her 20-year-old like a little kid. They also missed the scene where the witch badly climbs the tower. It’s really funny and shows how hard something like that would be in real life. They also miss a lot of the witches’ one liners, like “I was just trying to be a good mother,” and “Would you accept a blind girl instead?”. They really add to the show, and without them, the witch is kind of bland, mean and scary instead of funny and sincere. 

Finally the music. Into the Woods is mostly a musical. There are a few talking breaks, but it’s a lot of singing, including some longer songs like “Prologue: Into the Woods”  that is 14 minutes long. They got rid of so many songs like “First Midnight”, “Ever After”, “Agony Reprise” and “Act 2 Prologue.” They all add so much to the story. Agony Reprise shows that, even though both the princes are married, they are unfaithful and search for a new princess showing that everyone doesn’t get a happily ever after. Ever After is supposed to show everyone happy at the end of act one before it all goes bad in act 2. First Midnight shows all the characters and what has happened up to that point in the story and later the witch sings about the last midnight when she dies. Finally the Act 2 Prologue shows that even though they got everything they wanted in act 1 they are still not satisfied and wish for more. Without these songs, the movie doesn’t run as smoothly because why would it be the last midnight? When was the first? Why are they going back to the woods? All left unanswered unless you watch the stage version. 

These small things can make or break the show. I didn’t laugh once while watching the movie but I was choking on laughter during the musical. Not all the people in the movie made sense or sounded right, while the musical sounded great with all their natural voices coming together perfectly. Not having the narrator makes the story hard to follow and great rid of one of the best jokes in the whole show. And getting rid of some key songs didn’t help with keeping the story running smoothly. All in all, I like the movie musical. It’s ok at best. But if you want to get into the musical, watch the stage version on YouTube. When the 2 are compared, the movie stands no chance. 



Link to YouTube musical:


Link to Disney Plus:

*Disney+ | Movies and Shows (