Tangled is not only Walt Disney Animation’s 50th feature-length release, but it’s also the most expensive animated film made (to date). Early on in the studio’s history, Walt Disney was keen on adapting classic fairy tales into new stories. The story of Rapunzel was in development at the studio since the 1940s, but it was not until this past year that it finally made it to the big screen. Tangled starts out with some back story. Gothel (voiced by Donna Murphy) is an old woman who discovers an enchanted flower – when she sings to it, it has the power to make her young again. For hundreds of years she does this – until the pregnant Queen falls ill, and the King sets everyone out to find this mystical flower with the power to heal. They find it and use it to heal the sick mother. The resulting baby, Rapunzel, has golden hair which retained the flower’s healing and rejuvenating power – but if her hair is cut, it turns brown and loses its power. So Gothel kidnapped Rapunzel and locked her away in a tower, preventing her from cutting her hair, and using its powers to keep her young. Each year, on Rapunzel’s birthday, the King and Queen release golden lanterns into the sky in hopes that it will bring their daughter back to them.
Now eighteen, Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) asks her ‘mother’ Gothel if she can leave the tower to go see the lights that appear every year on her birthday; a request that Gothel flatly refuses. But when dashing young thief Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachary Levi) discovers the tower while escaping from the castle guards (and the fellow thieves he betrayed) having stolen the missing Princess’s tiara, Rapunzel knocks him out and hides the stolen loot. But soon she sees an opportunity to see the world, and works out a deal – he takes her to see the lanterns in person, and he’ll give back his stolen treasure. As Mother Gothel searches for Rapunzel, and Flynn tries to stay one step ahead of the guards and the evil Stabbington Brothers (Ron Perlman). Soon the relationship between Rapunzel and Flynn evolves, in true Disney fashion, from one of convenience, to a more romantic one – but will it last?
Tangled is a well done film, even if it adheres tightly to the Disney formula. The characters are likable, Rapunzel is seeing the world for the first time, and it’s fun to see it through her eyes. The overly confident Flynn provides us with some enjoyable action sequences, and serves as a suitable romantic lead as well. While Gothel isn’t really an ‘evil villain’, she’s still fun to hate for taking advantage of the naïve Rapunzel. But I founds the most fun to be had in the two non-verbal roles of the animals. The chameleon Pascal is Rapunzel’s little friend, and a delight to watch – but not nearly as much as Maximus, the horse of the head of the palace guard. Animated as though he were a dog, Maximus (and his rivalry with Flynn) is definitely a highlight of the film. Also of note, aside from the impressive technological aspects (hair simulation and rendering, etc.), is Alan Menken’s music. Taking a page from the Beauty and the Beast formula, there’s a lot of different musical numbers in Tangled, all of which are top notch, and incredibly catchy. The highlight, of course, is the Oscar-nominated “I See the Light”. His musical underscore as well is solid and well-polished.
Tangled is a fun movie that fits nicely within the Disney Animation canon. A good adventure story based on a classic fairy tale, it has likable leads, a crafty villain, a touching romantic aspect. In theaters it has a great 3D presentation, but if that’s not your thing, give it a rent first.