‘Tangled’ an entertaining take on popular fairy tale
In weaving a new take on the Brothers Grimm’s classic fairy tale “Rapunzel,” Disney has recaptured some of its lost magic with “Tangled” (and imbued some of it into that legendary, golden hair).
It’s like taking a trip down memory lane: naïve yet stubborn princesses, unusually expressive animals, deceptive villains, a dashing hero and a score of pop melodies. The scenery, for the most part, invokes memories of a time past, when mothers read of a tall, doorless castle harboring a princess with magical hair.
But in this rendition, Disney’s 50th animated feature, the décor is effervescent, the atmosphere slick. “Tangled’s” look and spirit convey a modified, updated but nonetheless sincere and unmistakable Disney-esque quality (one not seen in recent Disney endeavors). A few stumbles occur along the way, but are easily forgiven. After all, the story is about a lost princess finding her footing in this crazy world.
In what has become a staple in animated features, “Tangled” begins with an annoyingly smart-alecky voiceover narration, this time by the charming devil Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi). It’s a deleterious beginning, and one of the few pitfalls of the movie.
Before too long, Flynn shuts up and the story finds Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), an exiled princess shut up in a tower with only her magic hair and pet chameleon for consolation.
The evil Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) kidnapped the princess and raised her in a cruel, passive-aggressive captivity. Despite Mother Gothel’s sadistic nature, she shines as brightly as Rapunzel’s magical hair, which, along with healing wounds and curing sickness, reverses the aging process (the reason Gothel snatched her away to being with). Gothel manipulates Rapunzel into loving her, all the while camouflaging her selfishness with sweet-voiced expressions of solicitude.
As with any good Disney princess, Rapunzel does not sit idly as her life passes her by. So, as her 18th birthday approaches, she begins the heroic voyage of self-discovery, with Flynn as her companion and pursued by her mother. And while she has her trusty frying pan for protection, the girl brandishes her hair in an Indiana Jones-style manner, using it in a multitude of ways, ranging from a whip to a rope to a protective cocoon. Add to that her sunny, disarming personality (which is strange for someone who has been sequestered in a doorless tower for 18 years), and you have a potent force.
The action sequences, merging brilliant Pixar technology with classic Disney creativity, are breathless and catchy, but not exactly groundbreaking. What it does manage to excel at, though, is portraying a sense of the old hand-drawn Disney features, one of ravishing beauty and exquisite detail.
But Disney is better known for its songs and scores, and while none of the musical compositions here are quite at the level of “The Little Mermaid” or “Beauty and the Beast,” they are pleasant, and Mandy Moore captures the mood beautifully. Some of the songs are reminiscent of older classics, such as “Kiss the Girl” from “The Little Mermaid.”
“Tangled” reminds us of the magic that Disney is capable of creating. And while it’s probably not an Oscar winner, it is solid and a joy to watch. Don’t be surprised if you get tangled up in this enchanting fairy tale.
Three stars out of five.