Sunday, December 5, 2010

Movie Review: Tangled

Release Date: November 24, 2010 (3D/2D theaters) 
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures 
Director: Byron Howard, Nathan Greno 
Screenwriter: Dan Fogelman 
Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman, M.C. Gainey, Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett, Paul F. Tompkins 
Genre: Adventure, Animation, Family, Musical 
MPAA Rating: PG (for brief mild violence) 
Official Website: 

So Here’s What The Film Is About…
With the healing power a ray of sunshine embedded deep within her golden hair, Rapunzel is stolen from the King and Queen by an evil woman who wishes to remain young for the rest of her life.  As Rapunzel stays locked in the tower, with the frequent visits from her adopted mother, she dreams of a life outside the tower walls where she can live her dream.

Now enters the love interest, Flynn Rider, who has stolen the precious crown of the long lost princess finds refuge within the mysterious tower hidden away in the woods.  Out of fear, having never seen a real man before, takes Flynn hostage and offers him a trade…take her out into the world to see the glistening lanterns that appear every year on her birthday in return for the crown.

And thus starts the adventure where the unlikely duo sets out towards the castle where both will come face to face with their future.  But they will have to avoid the over-protective and selfish mother as well as a few of Flynn’s enemies along the way.

And Here’s What I Thought About It…
As with most Disney animated films which are based on very dark and twisted stories, Rapunzel is given a very rich, animated look filled with happy butterflies and gumdrop smiles.  This is not a negative criticism as things obviously need to be changed in order to meet the “family film” criteria and keep that rating of PG or lower.  I don’t think any of us will really want to see Flynn’s eye scratched out by the villain now do we?  But with any change in a film adaptation also comes with it a fear that something drastic will change in the story, causing fans to rip the film to shreds in how “inaccurate” the story is.  Whether you are one of those types of fans or not, rest assured there is something for everyone within Tangled.

Tangled is, of course, a shout out to the Roy Disney and Michael Eisner days of Disney; giving fans storylines involving a princess in distress who is rescued by the handsome prince (or in this case, thief) and running away from the evil mother.  It is the story of a free spirited young girl who yearns for something more than what her current life provides; with the random array of animals who seem to understand English and the folkish feel to the story, Tangled screams to the 30 – 40 year olds of today to travel back in time to when they were all just finishing elementary school and remember their filmatic childhood.  (Yes, I made up a word.  My blog, my rules…deal with it!) 

However, with this countries retelling (Yes, America is not the only country that tells these types of stories) of the famous folk story, Disney took a chance and strayed away from the popular title and slapped a much more modern and creative title across the movie posters streaming the internet.  And like most of the animated feature films of today, Tangled is filled with silly attempts at appealing to today’s youth, such as Flynn surfing down the dam and Rapunzel’s highly clever and athletic way of using her hair. 

But with the steadily declining interest in musicals in American culture these days, Disney markets this film as a simple animated film with very few musical numbers.  Quite the contrary as the film holds up to just as many songs as you would find in the Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast.  And Tangled is arguably the most musical animated film Disney has produced since Ariel’s adventure to the surface world.  (Just sit through all of the credits and you’ll see what I mean.)

Disney goes through different stages within their animation quality.  Once Walt died, brother Roy took it in a different direction.  As he left, Don Bluth came in and gave Disney a new artistic direction that changed the way animation was done.  Years later after Disney’s “let’s-make-our-movies-cheaply” faze, Michael Eisner took the helm and began giving us animated films to the quality of the Lion King. Now, Robert Iger is forcing Disney into a new era that has been bench marked by that of Pixar Animation Studios.  Tangled maintains that classic, Disney style but balloons the film into much more rich, fuller and life-like animation than in the companies past.  The landscaping of the woods and the chase scenes within them were perfectly done while the collapsing dam within the dried up canyon could have been mistaken for a live action, on location shot.

But most impressive is the detail in not only Rapunzel’s hair, but the hair of each and every character.  Mother Gothel’s mid-length curls had the sturdiness of any black-haired temptress, while Flynn’s thin and wavy brown locks were a sight for sore eyes.  And obviously, Rapunzel’s hair was given an extra amount of care as it was needed to maintain its golden grace despite the many trials and tribulations both her and Flynn would meet along the way.  This is all thanks to the 10 year research project and thesis by Xinmin Zhao and Kelly Ward, whose expertise aided in this films top notch animation quality.

The film’s story does take a little bit to find its footing.  But it isn’t helped by Flynn’s beginning narration and the montage of introductory set-up for the main plot.  It was a necessary thing given the starting point Disney decided to go with, but for about a half hour I was wondering what kind of film I was about to see; A cute and funny story with a Disney twist, or a seemingly contrived plot that was trying way to hard to be cool.  But after that first half hour, the film takes off into a fantastic adventure filled with laughs, action and adventure.

Casting was exceptional, especially the surprising singing talents given by Donna Murphy as the evil mother Gothel.  (I should stop being surprised by the musical excellence of most actors and actresses shouldn’t I?)  Donna Murphy, who’s made some brief appearances in films such as Star Trek: Insurrection and Spider-Man 2, went outside her normal, mellow acting role and pulled out all the stops, giving us one of the sexiest temptress voices to ever hit the recording studio.  Mandy Moore gives an excellent performance as does the unknown actor (at least unknown to me) Zachery Levi. The two make that classic connection of opposites attract very well.  Oh! And see if you can figure out who directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard are doing the voices of!
For those of you who read my reviews consistently, you’ll know of my distaste for the storylines which are very predictable and purposefully pulled from the Hollywood script vault. While I understand why this is done, I find myself still having trouble accepting the fact that nothing original can come from a regurgitated storyline.  But, from time to time, I can allow myself to enjoy a film with a predictable script, especially when it comes to Disney animated films.  And with Tangled’s obvious shout out to its Eisner glory days, I take no real issue with the story’s plot base as its progression.  And with the upgrade in the quality of animation, Disney has given audiences an animated family film that anyone can enjoy.

Rating 9 out of 10


  1. I can't wait to see this one! After all is said and done, would you say it's kid friendly?

  2. Yeah, it's kid friendly. Typically Disney movies are all kid friendly despite the PG rating. You might run into a fist punch to a bad guy here and a horse kicking to a good guy there, but nothing in this film screams inappropriate for children.