Rated PG for brief mild violence.
Featuring the Voices of: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman
Written by: Dan Fogelman (based on the “Rapunzel” fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm)
Directed by: Nathan Greno/Byron Howard
Tangled is Disney Animation’s 50th feature, and instead of trying something new, they went back to the well and created a movie that feels like the Disney movies of the 40′s. Now while many people would probably squeal at this, I was never a big Disney guy so instead of being charmed by the random songs, I was more put off. However, when the characters aren’t singing, the movie is actually pretty funny and cute. In essence, Tangled was close to being awesome.
Mandy Moore stars as Rapunzel, a lonely girl who has been sheltered in a tower her entire life by a witch of a woman (Donna Murphy). Why is she being kept there? Well it turns out that long ago, her birth mother was sick and the kingdom cured her with a magical flower. The magic mixed in with Rapunzel’s DNA and now whenever she sings (natch), her hair glows and has healing and fountain of youth abilities, which her fake mother craves like a crackhead. Eternal life isn’t anything to scoff at, yo.
Meanwhile, Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), a handsome and charismatic thief, has absconded with the crown of the lost princess (guess who that is) and is being chased by the kingdom’s police force and their very hard nosed horse Maximus. He stumbles onto the tower and climbs in to hide, where he meets Rapunzel. After being initially frightened, Rapunzel decides to offer the dashing Flynn a deal: she will give the crown back to him (which she has hid somewhere in the tower) in exchange that he bring her to see the “mysterious lights” that have appeared every year on her birthday. Flynn reluctantly agrees, and we’re off on an adventure filled with singing barbarians, daring escapes, and WUUUUUUUUUUV.
The folks behind Tangled were kind enough to make their female heroine/princess/whatever not just reliant on men and a damsel in distress. This Rapunzel may have long hair, but she knows how to use it; she ties up foes, grapples from one platform to the next (buy your Nintendo DS game now!), and uses it to grab objects out of people’s hands. It’s not sentient or anything, but it’s definitely a weapon and as hokey as that sounds, it’s actually kind of cool…and also super convenient whenever her and Flynn get in trouble. The reporte between Flynn and Rapunzel is typical cute fluffy kid stuff, but it works and the character of Flynn Rider is absolutely hilarious. There are the broad jokes (the “smolder” look), but there are smaller throw away lines that are just as funny if you’re paying attention.
As good as those two are, the best character of Tangled doesn’t even talk; it’s the horse Maximus. Maximus is hyper vigilant and hellbent on capturing Flynn for the kingdom, and frankly he’s a d-bag. It is hilarious though; the looks Maximus gives Flynn when they have to work together for the sake of Rapunzel are hilarious and I was shocked just how much a horse could actually get me pumped about a movie.
The story of Tangled is typical fairy tale stuff and if you like that kind of thing, you’ll like this. I had to physically fight myself from pointing out the plot holes in my head both story-wise and song-wise (why would fairy tale barbarians know who Mozart is?), but it still makes you care for the characters and that’s all you can really ask for. Where the movie really falters are in the songs. Whoever decided Tangled needed to be a musical needs to be karate kicked in the face, because the songs were distracting and not catchy in any way. The only sole exception was the song at the pub where the barbarians sing about their wishes and dreams; that was the only one that didn’t make cringe and had any sort of creativity to it (minus the Mozart line at least). The others? It just felt very forced, like they were towing the old school Disney princess style to a tee regardless if it fit or not. The music numbers will drive any sane person bonkers, even if Mandy Moore has a great voice. Yeah, I said it, wanna tussle?
Looking at Tangled as a whole though, it’s definitely entertaining. The characters are intensely likeable, the humor is a lot funnier than you’d expect, and it features the douchiest (and awesomest) horse since, uh, ever I guess. It’s a very by the numbers fairy tale though; the story is predictable and the musical numbers are tacked on and grating, but the rest of the movie is good enough that one can forget about that. Mostly.