*****NOTE TO EDITORS: THIS REVIEW IS EMBARGOED UNTIL FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2014.*****
By JAMES DAWSON
Front Row Features Film Critic
Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s often funny, sometimes poignant and completely enchanting Tony-winning Broadway musical “Into the Woods” arrives onscreen with a cast so good that even fans of the wonderful Joanna Gleason and Bernadette Peters 1987 stage version (available on home video) shouldn’t be disappointed. Some creator-approved omissions and other changes to the source material are unfortunate but far from fatal, and the work as a whole retains its achingly bittersweet actions-have-consequences character.
The cleverly constructed mashup of several fractured fairy tales takes place in a lushly photographed neverland where Little Red Riding Hood (a deadpan delightful Lilla Crawford), Jack of beanstalk fame (Daniel Huttlestone), Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy) and others are constantly running into each other, sometimes quite literally.