Saturday, December 4, 2010

Movie Review: Tangled

Tangled is Disney’s take on the story of Rapunzel, the classic fairy tale of the girl with super long hair who is locked away in a tower for reasons I can’t be bothered to look up on Wikipedia. It’s a medieval fairy tale, so I’m assuming somebody gets horribly slaughtered and children are taught a good lesson. Leaving the grim world of classic literature behind, In Disney’s Tangled Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is a princess who’s hair can magically restore youth and heal wounds, but loses this property when cut. As a baby, she’s stolen by the sinister Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) who uses Rapunzel to maintain her immortality. Rapunzel is warned about the (exaggerated) dangers of the outside world, but longs to venture outside her tower to see the strange lights that fill the sky every year on her birthday. She finally gets this opportunity when the dashing thief Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi) encounters her tower while escaping from a horse. Not on a horse, from a horse. If that notion alone has you intrigued, then Tangled is right up your alley. 

Tangled is a return to the early 90s Disney animated feature model: There’s an animal companion (Pascal, the chameleon), the noble horse with an anthropomorphic personality (Maximus, the aforementioned police horse), and a goofy battle sequence in the end (a mime is involved). However, it strays from the 90s model in its music: there are only a handful of songs, and while each is decent (and one is hilarious) the music is not the selling point of the film. And that’s a smart move: Disney has been trying (and failing) to out Lion King the Lion King for fifteen years, and they’ve finally started moving in a different direction more in keeping with the sensibilities of modern movie audiences. We don’t hate music, we just don’t want as much of it as we did in the 90s.

If there’s one big flaw in the script, it’s the ambiguous moral of the story; I’m not sure what kids are supposed to take away from Tangled. I guess it could be “listen to your heart” but it comes off more like “don’t always listen to your parents, they could secretly be evil” or “it’s perfectly reasonable to ask your parents to provide you with a birth certificate or, in lieu of that, have an attorney look over your adoption papers.”

Also, Tangled suffers from a sever case of trailer-discongruity. There’s an extremely jarring difference between several scenes in the promotional material and how the events actually play out in the movie. But all the differences are for the better. If you find the trailers for Tangled obnoxious, it’s because Disney’s marketing department is obnoxious.

Other than the questionable moral, Tangled is fantastic. It’s a great combination of modern tech and classic charm. Tangled could mark a second renaissance in Disney’s animation.

Also: Ron Pearlman voices of one of the villains, credited only as “Stabbington Brother.” That, my friends, is pure awesomeness concentrated.

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