Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Computer-Animated, 3D, Comedy, Children/Family
Opens everywhere Wednesday, November 24th, 2010, Rated PG
Run Time: 1 hour 41 minutes
Cast: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman
Directed by Byron Howard (Bolt, Chicken Little, Brother Bear)
Yes, many people praised Disney's last animated feature, The Princess & The Frog, as a return to the "classic" Disney films of the past. I on the other hand, thought it fell very short, and I shook my head trying to wonder how some could hold that movie near other real classics, like Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs, The Lion King, or Little Mermaid (read my review of The Princess & The Frog here). It is pretty common though, with every new Disney release, to compare the newer films to those treasured films we hold so dear. The name "Disney" of course still means a whole heck of a lot to a whole lot of people, but gone are the days when "animated film" and "Disney film" were synonymous. It seems every couple months we get a new 3D animated movie, from non-Disney studios like DreamWorks, Paramount, or Universal. And that's why I am full of joy to announce that Disney's latest film, Tangled, is a true bona fide classic...a film that will be mentioned in the same breath as the Disney "classics" that have come before.
A Grimm Tale. Tangled is based on the legendary tale, Rapunzel, plucked from the famous fairy tale collection by the Brothers Grimm in their 1812 book "Children's and Household Tales." Rapunzel is a girl with flowing magical hair, who is taken away from her parents by "Dame Gothel" and locked in a room atop a large tower. She is kept from the outside world, and used as a housemaid. The witch Gothel would call up to Rapunzel, who would let down her incredibly long hair to pull the witch up to her window. Of course, this is a fairy tale, so there is a prince who one day discovers Rapunzel in the tower, and the two fall in love and attempt to run off, far from the witch.
The Disney Formula. What's great about Tangled is that it uses the tried and true Disney formula to great success. Some will say that Tangled doesn't offer anything new, and it doesn't...it is a traditional story told in a straight-forward style. We have our princess Rapunzel, and our heroic(?) prince Flynn Ryder. We have the evil godmother ("Dame Gothel" actually being a common term for godmother in German.) And it wouldn't be a Disney movie if we didn't have the lovable animal sidekicks: in this case we get Pascal, Rapunzel's loyal chameleon, and Maximus who is Flynn's disobedient horse. Mix in some musical numbers and a few life lessons and you have yourself a Disney hit....right?
In the case of Tangled, absolutely. Except here, all components are given a modern twist that works. Our princess is more of a hero than in need of rescue, and our "Prince Charming" Flynn Ryder is anything but. Pascal the Chameleon channels other loyal sidekicks from Disney's past (think Flounder in the Little Mermaid), but Flynn's sidekick, horse Maximus, is maybe the most interesting steed we've ever seen...he is not just disobedient, he has his own agenda all together.
The Good, the Bad, and the Barbarians. Of course, it's a funny movie in that perfectly balanced way, where it'll gain laughs from a younger audience while keeping adults chuckling along as well. The music is wonderful and memorable, and the songs in the movie push the plot along. The best scene in the film takes place in a tavern full of barbarians and thugs, where...what else? A song breaks out, climaxing in an all-out musical number. There is slapstick comedy, well-done banter between Flynn and Rapunzel, and some on-going jokes that re-occur throughout the film, such as the use of Rapunzel's trusty frying pan as a weapon, and the fact that no sketch artist can seem to get Ryder's nose right on the Wanted signs.
This is not a "princess movie" and there is enough here for boys and girls to like...although having the hero be a new princess doesn't hurt in appealing to young females. Rapunzel is beautiful, kind, but independent and strong...she wouldn't mind having a hero around to protect her, but can definitely take care of things on her own...sounds like the modern woman to me!
Good Hair Day. In taking a classic fairy tale in need of an upgrade, Disney has struck gold again with Tangled...the first true "Disney Classic" of the CG-3D era (which by the way, is amazing...it's as if every shot has something to offer the 3-D experience). There is nothing new in terms of story progression, and all the cliched elements of a children's tale seem to be in place, but Tangled rises above your standard animated film by reconnecting with the heart and spirit that is Disney...a spirit that hasn't been felt on screen in quite some time.
Rapunzel, along with The Frog Prince (in which The Princess & The Frog was based), are both Grimm Tales...so what are some others? If Tangled is a success, I would have to believe that we'll be seeing some of the other untouched tales like "Hansel and Gretel", or "Rumpelstiltskin" come to life sooner rather than later. But it's not just enough to re-create the formula over and over again...it doesn't always work. As anyone who has ever been to Disney World can attest, the missing ingredient needed is magic.
Not sure how, or what it is, but Tangled has that magic.
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