Do you find yourself wanting to go back to the days of enchanting 2D Disney films, about the princesses who dream, love, fight, have a best friend who’s an animal or inanimate object, and steals a kiss from her prince at the end? The latest from the biggest family entertainment machine will certainly take you back to those days, with the modern addition of CGI animation and unexpected new plot twists on a classic fairy tale. Welcome to the magic of Tangled.
The princess of this film is Rapunzel, the ridiculously long-haired blonde damsel in distress from the world of the Brothers Grimm. The movie opens with a sequence about the princess’ origins and how she ends up in a tower, under the “care” of a witch she has always believed to be her mother and never having seen the outside world. With her only companion — an endearing chameleon named Pascal — Rapunzel (Voiced by Mandy Moore) yearns to follow the lanterns that appear every year on her birthday, and this wish strikes her the most as she nears her 18th. Not pleased with this revelation, Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) leaves the tower for three days to pick special plants for paint that Rapunzel wants instead. Sometime during this time frame, a thief on the run, Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), finds himself in Rapunzel’s tower, which Rapunzel and Pascal respond to by tying him up with her hair, hitting him with a frying pan, and the chameleon tonguing his ear in a quite extended yet appropriate-for-the-kiddies torture scene. In return for invading the place she knows as home and to get his sought-after satchel back, Flynn agrees to take Rapunzel out to see her lanterns. And then begins the adventure, meeting other lovable characters along the way (Including the horse Maximus and a little old guy dressed as Cupid), the two protagonists falling in love, and battling Mother Gothel and her lifelong betrayal as well as those on the search for Flynn.
In addition to the “princess” aspect, old-school Disney lovers are sure to love the songs and musical sequences. For that, you can once again thank Alan Menken, the mastermind of the music behind other beloved Disney movies such as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. With that name alone (Credit as well to the lyricist, Glenn Slater), we have another memorable soundtrack on our hands. Heck, I think I can even already smell an Oscar nomination for it. The highlight is “I’ve Got a Dream,” (There goes the word of the year again!) a rather ecstatic and joyful number sung by a bunch of mean and burly guys. ‘Ecstatic and joyful’ generally don’t match with ‘mean and burly,’ so that makes that entire song and sequence pretty epic. Additionally, the voice cast fits all of the roles and is a pleasure to listen to in speaking and singing. I forgot how much I loved Moore’s voice—it always had that wispy, princess-y feel and she had the perfect opportunity to use it in this film.
The characters, the singing, and the story all created a captivating film that if it were in 2D, I would’ve been fine with it. However, the way the characters are drawn and the way the scenery is rendered (One particular scene where the characters are surrounded by the lanterns was the single best stunner for the eyes) made Tangled even more beautiful. I couldn’t help but see Cher everytime that Mother Gothel was on screen though. Did Disney tie this in with the superstar’s film Burlesque, which coincidentally comes out the same day as the animated feature?
Story and action-wise, it initially didn’t feel as engaging as previous Disney features, but that changed quickly. Many laughs are delivered thanks to the lively cast of characters, both in human and animal form. Tears will also be shed, when viewers discover a kingdom’s heartbreak and well, it’s a given that there’s always an element of tragedy in any Disney movie, right?
Though overall, Tangled is a good deal of fluffy, totally feel-good, and undoubtedly hip and clever. It still stays true to a medieval setting and to the old-school Disney foundation of whimsical love stories and music to remember for ages, but manages a 21st-century feel with upgrades in “the pretty” (Meaning the animation) and surprising turns in the storytelling. It’s a princess tale for this new generation, and another one for Disney’s incredible and always-growing history.
OVERALL SCORE: 9/10