FILM REVIEW: Disney's TANGLED
Something for everyone in Disney's latest animated fairy tale...
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Disney continues the long tradition of recreating classic fairy tales with TANGLED, a new spin on the story of Rapunzel, the young maiden with long golden locks. Despite the poppy/ edgy marketing campaign, this is still a classic Disney musical, though it is their first one done entirely with computer animation to stunning results.
The original tale of Rapunzel is well known, but over the years the details of the story have more or less been forgotten. Disney, as expected, took this tale and updated it, giving the story a much needed stronger male protagonist named Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) and also a much stronger underlying story. The film begins with a drop from the sun that produces a plant with incredible healing powers. The beloved Queen of the Kingdom - ill while giving birth to Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) - was given this plant to survive. Miraculously, the powers of the plant were transferred into Rapunzel's hair which causes Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), an old hag, to kidnap her, lock her in a tower, and horde the healing powers for her very own.
On the surface, the film is about simple dreams and desires. Rapunzel's desire for freedom is much like Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Flynn is a wanted criminal who dreams only of riches and living in a castle. Rapunzel's "mom" Mother Gothel wants nothing more than to remain young forever and ever, but all in the guise of caring for Rapunzel and warning her of the troubles that await outside the tower. Throughout the course of the film, the real personalities will show and the characters will be faced ultimately with what direction they should lead their life. Should Rapunzel stay in the tower? Should Flynn remain a thief? Tangled asks its characters and the viewer "what happens if your dream isn't what you expected it to be? What happens if it is?"
Disney purists may still favor their fairy tales in the traditional hand-drawn styles, but make no mistake, the art and style that went into Tangled will surely impress. After last year's wonderful fairy tale remake The Princess and the Frog, Walt Disney delivers their 50th animated feature. And while it's a bit unsettling to see that it's not a traditional hand drawn feature, it's great that it IS a fairy tale and a worthy new addition to the Disney legacy.
Being a musical, legendary composer Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) along with lyricist Glenn Slater were asked to execute the film's score and the many songs. The actors all perform their own songs to great effect and for the most part, are a lot of fun but many will be off-put by the different musical styles this film presents. It was a decision not to make Tangled your standard Broadway musical like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. For what reason, it's not clear. What is clear is that Disney wants to try something different.
There's a lot to like about this film and directors Byron Howard and Nathan Greno, fresh from Bolt, injected a lot of fun and heart into this picture. Audiences may not be humming the tunes on the way home but they will be singing its praises. There really is something for everyone in Tangled and it is truly to be commended that the film's title is the weakest aspect of the film. I will personally continue to call it "Rapunzel" but regardless of that, do see and enjoy this film. If you're a fan of Disney animation especially, you will not regret it.
Tangled realses in theaters nationwide today. Rated PG for brief and mild violence.
- David Yeh