Rating: PG, for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material.
Even though this musical is inspired by beloved fairy tales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk, it has its origins in a Stephen Sondheim production — and Sondheim’s work, with its dense lyrics and complicated melodies, might be a lot for young viewers to handle. Still, this is a Disneyfied version of Into the Woods, so a lot of the more mature details about the young characters’ sexual awakening have been softened to secure a PG rating and appeal to the widest possible audience. The forest where the characters’ paths cross is dark, gnarled and ominous — although, as the song goes, “The woods are just trees. The trees are just wood.” But the playfulness of the first half gives way to heavier themes of sacrifice and death in the second half. I brought my 5-year-old son to the screening with me and the main thing that scared him was the giant that appears toward the end. The witch (played by Meryl Streep) might seem scary for the youngest viewers, too. This is probably best for kids around age 8 and older.