Tangled: Disney Unravels A Magical Tale That’s Fun For Everyone

24 11 2010

Disney’s Tangled is its 50th animated feautre-length film and, reportedly, the last one to feature a princess. Here’s the breakdown:

Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) lives with her mother (Donna Murphy), alone in a tower. Her flowing golden locks provide healing and life and her mother has stayed young and beautiful thanks to Rapunzel’s gift. But when Rapunzel encounters a wandering scoundrel (Zachary Levi), she embarks on a quest to find out where she really comes from and learns the values of family and love along the way.

The Monkey: The animation is gorgeous. From the stylized character designs to the intricately detailed sets, Tangled is a masterpiece of CGI and digital animation. For that reason alone, the movie should be seen in 3D or at least in a theatre that offers digital projection.

The voice acting is superb. Mandy Moore brings an innocence and vibrance to Rapunzel that sets her apart from what could easily have been another generic princess. Zachary Levi brings equal parts Han Solo and Robin Hood to Flynn Ryder, the suave scoundrel with a heart of gold. Finally, Donna Murphy, as Mother Gothel, delivers a performance like no other Disney villain, bringing a humanity and uncomfortable familiarity to an otherwise evil character.

Speaking of Mother Gothel, this was one of the most interesting Disney villains to date. Her role as Rapunzel’s mother prevents the audience from dismissing her as pure evil from the start, like so many one-dimensional villains. Instead, Gothel is a bitingly subversive, verbally abusive and ultimately misguided villain, giving her far more layers than her previous counterparts. While most Disney films stick to the “sacrificial single parent” model, Tangled flips this notion on its ear, telling the tale of a dysfunctional family and how damaging it can be to make excuses for wrongful behavior, even from the ones you love and claim to love you. Sound deep? It is, but not stiflingly so – this is a layer of storytelling that will be missed by most younger audiences (despite its positive message) but adds a maturity to the story that older audience members can appreciate.

Composer Alan Menken (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid) is back and the songs in Tangled are wonderful. From a rowdy bar song involving thugs and cutthroats (“I’ve Got A Dream”) to a beautiful, romantic duet (“I See The Light”), Tangled delivers the magical musical moments that you remember from the most classic of Disney films. Mother Gothel’s signature song (“Mother Knows Best”) is the standout performance, recalling the spectacle of Aladdin‘s “Friend Like Me” as well as the villainous belting of The Little Mermaid‘s “Poor Unfortunate Souls”.

The magic of Tangled doesn’t stop there. The film includes enough humor to keep kids (and adults) laughing, thanks to the movie’s animal pals, chameleon Pascal and horse Maximus. They were wonderful secondary characters that were used for well-placed laughs without being overdone.

The Weasel: While it can’t really be helped with a fairy tale story, Tangled is pretty predictable. No one of importance dies, it all ends happily, etc. This could be one of the reasons why Disney is “discontinuing” fairy tale princess stories from here on out…there’s just not much that hasn’t already been done.

Another point of contention: the number of songs. I can think of six amazing and distinct songs from Aladdin, yet Tangled only offered up three really memorable tunes. This is a case where less does NOT equal more. The existing songs are exceptional and it would have been nice to have several more.

I have to say, I’m not thrilled with the title. It was originally called Rapunzel, but in an effort to appeal to a male audience, the name was changed. I think it shows a lack of faith, on Disney’s part, in the finished product. If this truly is the end of the princess genre for Disney, they should have gone all out, title and all.

There have been some complaints about the 3D making the screen very dark. It does darken the screen, so if you have a theatre that offers 2D digital projection, you won’t miss much by skipping the 3D; however, there are one or two particular scenes that are quite thrilling in three dimensions.

With great voice talent, wonderful animation and classic music, Tangled delivers the Disney magic like I haven’t seen in a long time.

4.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Will Tangled rank among some of the best Disney animated movies? Do you think the title change was a good decision? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine