Feb 02, 2011|
For their 50th animated feature, Disney really tried to make it special. They changed the title formula (The Brothers Grimm’s Rapunzel story is retold under the name of “Tangled” instead of the studio’s trademark headings like “[Insert Mythical Person’s Name Here]” or “The [Name] and the [Name]”); they went bonkers with the budget (costing US$260 million, this is the most expensive animated feature ever, and the second most expensive film ever made); and they altered the plot (forget about the prince; what we have here is a hot, young thief).
Joined by a top-notch cast and crew, directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard (who worked together in “Bolt”) mix some impressive musical numbers with a lot of Shrek-ish cheekiness, all while keeping the upbeat and romantic Disney spirit. And voila! A zippy, witty, funny, not-your average fairy tale is born, ready to make any cynic walk out of the cinema feeling all warm and fuzzy.
As an infant, Princess Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is stolen from her royal home by the greedy and evil Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), who uses the princess’s magical blonde locks for her own eternal youth and beauty. To keep the big secret, she locks Rapunzel in a high tower deep in the forest and raises her as her own daughter. For 18 years, Rapunzel never leaves the tower or gets a haircut, living in absolute isolation with 70-foot-long tresses. Finally, despite her guilt and fear of her overprotective mother, the teenager looks for an escape. And the kingdom’s most wanted fugitive, the dashing and overconfident Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi, “Chuck”) shows up just in time. He climbs into the tower while on the run and is ironically knocked out and held hostage by the feisty damsel in distress, who agrees to release him and give back his plunder as long as he takes her to the outside world for a short trip to see the floating lanterns. Of course, while they’re being chased along the way by the royal guards and Mother Gothel, their romance blossoms.
While the half-hand-painted, half-CG animations look classy and lively, the vibrant and amusing songs crafted by legendary film composer Alan Menken (an eight-time Oscar winner for Disney classics such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”) and lyricist Glenn Slater truly make the film a delightful treat. Moore’s poppy voice matches the innocent protagonist, and who’d have thought that the geek from “Chuck” has got some pipes, too?! But the best part of the movie has got to be Broadway diva Murphy’s old-school theatrical vocals—when she belts out the show-stopping number “Mother Knows Best,” you instantly get goosebumps all over. In addition, the film’s astoundingly dead-on grasp of the typical passive-aggressive mother-daughter relationship will definitely resonate with a lot of the female audience. But boyfriends should not be worried here as the film also moves at a brisk pace and contains some decent action sequences—a hilarious scene where a bunch of Viking thugs burst into song about life’s dreams will make you laugh out loud and hum along.
There’s no point in denying that every once in a while, we crave a dose of happily-ever-after Disneyness, and “Tangled,” with a simple but perfect recipe for humor, purity and a likable jack-the-lad, is a perfect choice for a family hangout or a great date.