In a year that has included the likes of a mischievous Hatter, a warrior prince, master sorcerers, and a toy cowboy/space ranger dynamo duo, Disney has seemingly gone in a variety of directions thus far in 2010. However, in doing so, many would agree that they have had some hits as well as some misses as a result. Their latest undertaking comes in the form of Tangled, an updated tale of Rapunzel, the girl notorious for her extensive mane.
Co-directed by Nathan Greno & Byron Howard, the latter of whom directed 2008’s Bolt, the film opens with Rapunzel’s origin via a montage. Unlike many films that get carried away explaining the hero/heroine’s origin, Greno & Howard effectively breeze through origin story. In essence, there is a king and queen expecting a child. The expecting queen and arriving baby are ill and their only hope for survival is a flower with healing powers. The said flower is hoarded by an evil witch who uses it for her selfish ends. The citizens of the kingdom find the flower and bring it back to the king, allowing him to heal his wife (in labor) and their baby. Though the flower heals the queen and newborn princess, it has unexpected side effects. Unbeknownst to the king and queen, the healing powers once imbued within the flower is now stored within Princess Rapunzel’s hair. The evil witch, being the only one aware of what’s happened, kidnaps Rapunzel, and raises her, keeping her in a hidden, isolated tower to be used as her personal human elixir. After this initial introduction, we are treated to Rapunzel as a toddler enchanted by bright lanterns that blanket the sky from the tower window. Though Rapunzel wonders why these lanterns appear each year on her birthday, we, as the audience, know that it’s a tribute from her parents who lost her years prior. Her fascination with these lanterns set the groundwork for the adventure that lies ahead.
lash forward to Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), now 18, somewhat content with her sheltered existence alongside her pet chameleon, Pascal, and Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), but still curious about what lies beyond the walls of her tower. Oblivious of Gothel’s motives, Rapunzel tries to persuade her to let her leave the tower, but through some clever manipulation on Gothel’s part, she convinces Rapunzel to stay. Cut to the introduction of veteran thief, Flynn Rider (ZacharyLevi) and his cronies as they steal the crown, ironically belonging to Rapunzel, from the king and queen’s castle. In his efforts to escape the authorities and double-cross his cronies, he stumbles upon Rapunzel’s humble abode. Upon entering the tower, he’s ambushed by Rapunzel and Pascal, and is taken hostage. It is here that a deal is struck between both parties: If Flynn guides Rapunzel out of the tower to see the lanterns and helps to guide her back home, she will return the stolen crown to him. Along their journey to see the lanterns, they get to themselves into numerous hijinks, which of course affords them the chance to meet many colorful characters and eventually fall for one another.
Perhaps inadvertently, Tangled is an apt title for the revisited Rapunzel story, seeing that, as a film, it successfully incorporates many elements at once. The first of which would be the character animations themselves. Thanks to the detail invested in the characters’ movements and mannerisms, the characters often behave and respond as human actors would if they were portraying the same characters in a live-action adaptation of the film. In fact, the character animations are in some moments so impressive that you’ll forget that you’re watching animated characters instead real-breathing actors.
Another element that works for the film are the songs. Unlike some animated films in which the songs seem to be included in the films for its own sake, the songs here fit seamlessly in the plot of the film and never disrupt the film’s momentum. Last, but not least, would be the humor; of which there is enough to be enjoyed by both kids and adults. Therefore parents won’t have to dread being dragged to see the film by their kids.
Now the bad news. Despite many of the things which I feel this film did right, there were still a few minute issues I had with the film; however, in retrospect, considering that is an animated film, I suppose should cut the film some slack. These issues that I speak of are the plot devices used toward the end of the film; particularly, in regards to Rapunzel’s discovery of her heritage and also in regards to how one character’s life is spared. In addition, parents will likely not be too thrilled with the violence in this film, which, considering what happens in the film’s climax, definitely earns the film it’s PG rating. Overall though, Tangled is an entertaining film that brings renewed life to the classic tale of Rapunzel, and more importantly, lives up to the “Disney” pedigree. Here’s hoping Disney keeps up the momentum next month with Tron: Legacy!
FINAL GRADE: A-
TRR Movie Revue by Brandon Troy