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Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Was 'Tangled' in Disney’s Charming Film


Tangled = 4 out of 5
Flynn Ryder:  Alright Blondie…
Repunzel:  Repunzel.
Flynn Ryder:  …Gesundheit.
How about a big, broad statement to start?  Anyone who is a fan of films like Aladdin or The Little Mermaid, for example, should be very pleased with Tangled.  In what is, for now, the last Disney animated princess movie, people are in for a film that looks great, is quite funny, tells a familiar but well handled story, and feels right at home with other popular films of this type.  It has the same kind of appeal that many of these past animated Disney films have, and even the 3D is put to good use.  It always helps when I am genuinely surprised at how much I enjoy a feature, and this was one that had that effect on me.

Tangled is about a stolen princess.  This Princess is Repunzel, voiced by Mandy Moore, who was born with magical hair (very, very long, magical hair), which can heal and make one youthful in appearance.  Repunzel has these abilities due to various circumstances involving an old woman, Mother Gothel (voiced by Tony Award-winning actress Donna Murphy), who has kidnapped Repunzel and raised her as her own daughter, in order to always have the ability to keep herself young and beautiful.  To keep Repunzel away from the world, including her royal parents, who continue a birthday tradition with hopes of finding her, Mother Gothel has kept Repunzel in a large tower and tells her nothing but evil things about the outside world, giving her no choice but to stay within the walls of this hidden place of isolation.  Of course, Repunzel is nearly an adult and is growing restless.

Cue Flynn Ryder, voiced by Chuck’s Zachary Levi, the roguish and cocky bandit, who has recently escaped the royal palace with the princesses’ own crown and happens to wind up hiding in the most opportune of places.  Flynn has of course hidden in the tower where Repunzel resides and is quickly taken off guard.  Not knowing anything of her royal blood, Repunzel hides the crown and makes a deal with Flynn to have him show her the outside world, and specifically the palace, in exchange for giving him the crown.  From there, the two embark on an adventure and all the Disney stuff happens, but it is a lot of fun!
Flynn Rider:  I could get used to a view like this… Yep, I'm used to it. Guys I want a castle.
I truly enjoyed this whole film through and through.  Disney has been sitting on the sidelines, since letting Pixar run the show with their much better features, and while Toy Story 3 may still be the best animated feature (let alone one of the best movies of the year anyway), this is still a strong entry and, as mentioned, a great return to the films that Disney used to make.  As much as I admired 2009’s Princess and the Frog for its attempt to be a throwback to the classic Disney films, with its use of hand-drawn animation and retro styling mixed with a blast of jazz and Cajun sensibilities, this film worked better.


The team behind this film was also heavily involved in the production of Bolt, another recent Disney film that was quite enjoyable.  Here, with the help of executive producer and Pixar chief John Lasseter, the film manages to work with a familiar princess story by making the characters come first.  As humorous as the film is, as nice as the songs are, and as fun as some of the adventure stuff can be, I liked these people that I was following and was intrigued by the other characters as well.  The film doesn’t have Dreamworks-style pop culture references every minute (and I should point out that neither does Dreamworks’ own How To Train Your Dragon, which was another solid animated film this year), but instead, has its humor and other scenes develop out of the story.
Mother Gothel:  Look in that mirror. I see a strong, confident, beautiful young lady.
[Rapunzel smiles]
Mother Gothel:  Oh look, you're here too.  I’m just teasing.
This is also Disney’s first princess film to be animated in CG.  I have read that the idea was for the film to be done in this manner, but to evoke the feel of a hand-drawn Disney film.  I can understand this.  The tone of this film certainly has the feel of a traditional Disney film, due to the character designs and how the humor is handled.  The added bonus is that in 3D, this film actually continues to look good.  Animated features continue to be the only real way to enjoy the 3D treatment (remember, Avatar is mostly CGI anyway), and this film does a good job at putting the effect to good use.


As far as the voices and songs are concerned, I was pleased with the performances on display.  As opposed to using megastars without much of a suitable voice for this type of work, both Moore and Levi did a great job at creating likable and fitting characters, as does Murphy at providing the villain.  The film then continues to entertain me by having Brad Garret and Jeffrey Tambor sing, Ron Perlman voicing characters known as “The Stabbington Brothers”, and Jaws (Bond movies) himself, Richard Kiel play a role.  The songs are all nice as well.  Animated Disney film veteran composer, Alan Menken, has provided the score, with Moore of course contributing a great deal, and while I may not be humming the songs like I have in past films, I was certainly happy with listening to them on screen.

I never want to oversell something too much, but I had a blast watching this flick.  I have only nice things to say and hope more people see it, because despite the marketing for this movie, which I thought was quite poor, it really is a delight.  It is very much designed to be a movie for kids, as opposed to the work by Pixar, which can satisfy audiences of all ages, but I was still quite pleased throughout this entire feature.  I mean, this movie has two animal sidekick characters, and neither of them is annoying.  That’s always a good sign in my book.
Flynn Rider: Frankly, I'm too scared to ask about the frog.
Rapunzel: Chameleon.

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