With a lot taken from The Little Mermaid, a dash from Beauty and the Beast, and a hint of Aladdin, Disney’s latest retelling of classic literature is sure to capture a large box office yield, but will it survive the test of time in the memory of audiences? While it doesn’t seem likely that they will be able to beat out Toy Story 3 or even Megamind in sales, let’s hope that Tangled sets the mark of a new era in Disney’s future in quality animation.
Tangled is Disney’s 50th animated feature. – Really, there’s been that many? How come I can only think of a handful of good ones? – With so many failures in the past decade to recapture the old traditional values of the best animated features of the late 80’s and early 90’s, Tangled does a remarkable job at reminding us of those great features but will probably fall short of remaining in our loving memory any more than Anastasia did. Still, it’s far better than last years The Princess and the Frog.
Tangled is the classic retelling of the German fairy tale, Rapunzel. Like most of their recounting of traditional literature, the story is drastically changed. Disney’s Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is a princess with magical hair given to her by a magical flower during her mother’s pregnancy. An old maid, dependent on the power of the flower to maintain her youthfulness, kidnaps the princess and locks her in a tower deep in the woods and raises her as her own daughter. When Rapunzel turns 18 and asks to go out into the world, Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) tells her she will never leave the tower. Then comes in her unlikely rescuer, a handsome young bandit with an inflated ego and a desperate need to escape his pursuers, Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi) finds the tower and climbs the walls to hide out for a while. Rapunzel sees Ryder as her means of escape and quickly forges a contract with the bandit to get to the source of a mysterious annual light show. The adventures of the journey fill the rest of the story as Rapunzel and Ryder share a romantic ‘wrong side of the tracks’ love story. Rapunzel uses her winsome charm and beautiful locks to get herself out of a heap of trouble and into the hearts of her audience.
While the story is not as profound or memorable as some of the best pieces in Disney’s history, this adaptation of Rapunzel is clever, funny, and heartwarming. The story has been on the draft books since Walt Disney himself first pondered the idea in the 1940’s. I can’t imagine what a story so predominantly about hair would have looked like in the 1940’s or even in 2000 for that matter. The technology and picture quality has enhanced so much over the years the there really hasn’t been a better time to tell the story until now. Disney’s Real D 3D technology brings this story to life with astounding visuals and eye popping color. It’s definitely worth paying the few extra bucks.
The characters are a mixture of contemporary personifications and classic figures. The two non-speaking roles, Maximus a ‘by the book’ horse with good intentions and Pascal a chameleon companion to Rapunzel, harken back to the classics while Rapunzel and Ryder imitate more modern day characters. Mother Gothel and the cut-throat duo are nebulous in how they are portrayed. While they are the obvious antagonists to the story, they are handled softly so as to give then more complexity. The empathetic gang of thieves who find their hearts dream are a clever addition to the story as well.
The humor and circumstances in Tangled create the perfect atmosphere for good old fashioned entertainment. Though the music and singing are often forgetful and won’t make a top musical favorites of any list, the story itself is hilariously funny and perfectly suited to make kids, and adults alike, laugh out loud.
I give this film 4 out of 5 stars. Share it with a kid or a kid at heart and enjoy the ensuing laughter.
This film is rated PG for brief mild violence and is playing everywhere.