While Prince Charming in "Into the Woods" is described as "sensitive, clever, well-mannered, considerate" and many other flattering adjectives in the song "Agony," one word that is not used to describe him is "goofy."
But goofy is exactly what the Prince is in "Into the Woods," the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's musical that combines the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella. The musical, which looks beyond the phrase "happily ever after," dares to suggest that all might not come to a pleasing conclusion after all.
Directed by Rob Marshall, the movie features Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, presented as an indecisive young woman who is not exactly thrilled with the fact that the Prince is chasing after her as she flees the royal ball.
Cinderella's thoughts are shared in her stream-of-consciousness solo "On the Steps of the Palace," as she struggles to determine how she feels about the Prince, asking, "What if he knew what I am when I know that I'm not what he thinks that he wants?" She finally comes to the conclusion that she will leave her shoe for the Prince so that he can pursue her — as she puts it, "not to decide." Kendrick, a Tony Award nominee for High Society and an Academy Award nominee for "Up in the Air," enjoyed presenting a new version of Cinderella, one she described as "very brave and very complicated."
A different side of Prince Charming is also presented — although a slightly less flattering one that dares to suggest that being charming is not as important as other qualities.
"The great thing about Chris is that he was so game to show this really unattractive side of Prince Charming," Kendrick said. "The sort of less-than-desirable, narcissistic, goofy side… It's sort of great to set the example that maybe the handsome prince might not be a fully rounded human."
The Prince's superficial side damages his relationship with Cinderella, and the latter half of the movie reveals a stronger side of Cinderella as she makes a surprising decision — a revelation that Pine, known for his work in the "Star Trek" movie franchise, said he was excited to share with audiences.
"I think there's a wonderful thing to be said that you don't need a man in your life if you're a woman in order to be complete and rounded out," he said. "But I think it's actually deeper and more wonderful than that. In any human relationship, you need to understand and know the other person."
After the Prince and Cinderella are wed, the two find life different than they expected. Pine appreciated being able to explore the story after "happily ever after," which he said teaches important lessons about fate and the future.
"You may have an idea of what your life will look like or what the story should play out," he said, "but you'll only really know it until you're knee-deep out there living it, to know what you'll like or want. And it may change."
(Carey Purcell is the Features Editor of Playbill.com. Her work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow her on Twitter @PlaybillCarey.)