Disney serves up glossy production values and a very starry cast, including James Corden, for this version of Stephen Sondheim’s celebrated 1987 musical.
The original show gave some well-known fairytales a tweak long before the film studio got into the act with the likes of Tangled, Frozen and Maleficent.
A handful of Brothers Grimm tales is interwoven with a new story about a childless baker and his wife, winningly played by Corden and Emily Blunt, whose quest to reverse a curse by Meryl Streep’s vengeful witch takes them into the stories of Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and the Beanstalk, Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy).
Johnny Depp does a panto turn as the Big Bad Wolf and Chris Pine goes campily over-the-top as Cinderella’s prince, but their co-stars find surprising emotional truth in their characters.
Sondheim’s intricate songs may not leave you humming, but are full of rueful wisdom and beauty. Even so, the film may prove too sweet for Sondheim lovers and too bitter for the Disney crowd.