Growing up with the golden age of Disney animated films in the 90s, a.k.a. the Modern Classics or the Renaissance era, those characters, stories, and of course music always have a special place in my heart. Then I outgrew fairytale movies. But when my sister suggested a movie night out, we discovered that Tangled was a surprising delight reminiscent of that old Disney magic.
Tangled is based on the German fairytale Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), who has been kept in an isolated tower by Gothel (Donna Murphy), who wants to keep the magic healing power of Rapunzel’s long, golden locks to herself, so that she can remain forever young. Now that she is a teenager, Rapunzel longs for the day when she can go out and explore the world outside her tower, but is consistently denied by Mother Gothel. As she accepts her fate to remain in the tower forever, a bandit named Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) entered the tower while escaping pursuit by the royal guards after a heist. Could he be her chance to finally embark on an exciting journey in the outside world?
Although they abandoned the original concept of CG animation that will resemble oil painting, which I would have been very interested in seeing, the animation of Tangled is still top-notch. From background details, character design to their movement, Disney Animation Studio proves that they’re still in the game in the new computer age, not to be outcompeted by successful challengers like DreamWorks or Fox. What’s more, it has the good old-fashioned Disney value that is not seen in most other pop-culture-referencing, sarcastic animated films coming out these days.
Tangled follows the formula of Disney fairytales, but still manage to entertain the audience. Some jokes could fly over the kids’ heads, but adults sure will appreciate them. The fast pace of the film moves things along, leaving me wanting more time devoted to each character so I could know more about them. Nonetheless, the focus on Rapunzel as the main character along with her cute face and spunky personality will sure make the audience adore her and root for her to that happy ever after end. Disney really know how to make their princesses. I’m sure they will get rich off merchandises for years to come, regardless of how this film does in the box office.
Mandy Moore is surprisingly suitable for the role of Rapunzel. Unlike the previous candidate like Kirstin Chenoweth (whom I absolutely love and admire), she provides a young and lively presence that is vital to the character. Levi is no longer the geeky Chuck in Flynn’s charming bandit boots. His image does make dorky-underdog-turned-cool-guy story ring truer, and his charisma makes Flynn alluring but relatable, not annoying or dull like some of the other Disney“princes.” Mother Gothel is a fleshed out character that adds a little depth the film. Her desire for eternal beauty makes her the villain, but her mother-daughter interaction with Rapunzel makes you wonder if she has truly only sees Rapunzel as her youth potion. Tony Award winner Donna Murphy also provides the voice in the most memorable song, “Mother Knows Best”in the rather forgettable soundtrack by Disney veteran Allen Menken, who penned my favourite music in those Disney 90’s classics and made me a musical fan for life.
As with all Disney films, animal sidekicks adds physical comedy and cuddly cuteness to Tangled. I do find them funny and adorable, probably because I prefer silent supporting animal characters to animated wisecracking comedians. In my opinion, when it is done right, silent character can be just as effective. Remember the magic carpet in Aladdin? A carpet as a character! Now that’s magic!
Although whether the attempt is a success or failure is up for debate, Disney does try to make their princesses appeal to girls in this modern day and age. Rapunzel’s journey obviously mirrors growing up, going out there into the big, scary world, and doing it on your own. Gothel represents parents who may not really know what is best for you, though real life parents probably wouldn’t lock their children up in towers just for their 10-feet hair.
Overall, while Tangled may not be on the same level emotionally with time-tested classics like Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, it is Disney at its best, producing a fun, entertaining animated feature film with lovable characters that the whole family can enjoy and escape from reality for 100 minutes. At the end of the day, isn’t that what going to the movies is all about?
Notable Trivia (from IMDb):
- According to production manager Doeri Welch Greiner, the original script was a quasi-sequel to Enchanted (2007), and had Rapunzel turned into a squirrel and her place taken by a girl in the real world. Glen Keane eschewed in favour of a more fun and fantastical fairytale that Disney is famous for: “I think that’s what Disney needs to do right now. No one else can do it. We should not be embarrassed or make excuses for doing a fairytale."
- The movie title changed a couple of times. Finally they decide to take Rapunzel out and call it Tangled to appeal to demographics other than young girls. original link