Walt Disney Animation Studios is back this holiday season with the new animated movie “Tangled.” Originally called “Rapunzel” but later changed to make it a more gender-neutral sounding title, “Tangled” is the 50th animated feature released from Disney in its classic animated series.
Directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard are at the forefront of this very unique take on the classic “Brothers Grimm” tale of the fair princess who has long magical golden locks and is trapped in a high tower. After the disappointing box office returns of 2009’s “The Princess and the Frog,” Walt Disney Studios has switched things up and is focusing less on the princess aspect of the story and more on morality and adventure between the two main characters.
Once upon a time in a beautiful kingdom, a noble king and queen ruled their people with courage and compassion. When the pregnant queen becomes ill, the loyal subjects go out in search of a plant in the garden of an old hag named Gothel (Donna Murphy). They uncover a glowing flower that’s essence is the pure power of the sun. When the queen drinks a medicine made from this flower, she is healed and that power is then passed onto her beautiful newborn daughter Rapunzel (Mandy Moore). Wanting to keep this healing power to herself, Gothel steals baby Rapunzel in the middle of the night and takes her to a hidden valley away from the kingdom and locks her up in a tall tower and raises here as her own child.
Growing up believing Gothel is her mother and that the world is a horrible and dangerous place, Rapunzel dreams of the outside world but never dares to escape the safety of her tower — that is until dashing thief Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) stumbles upon the tower and hides in it to escape the palace guards. In an effort to prove her mother wrong about how strong she is, she makes a bargain with Flynn that if he takes her to the Kingdom to see the light festival (that happens each year on her birthday) she will return his satchel of stolen goods that she has hidden somewhere in her tower. Reluctant, but without a choice. Flynn takes her up on the deal but with the intention of scaring her out of it once he realizes her inexperience in the world.
On their escapade across the countryside, they have to deal with a super-cop horse (Maximus), a street-tough chameleon side-kick (Pascal), a pub of tough warrior thugs and much more. Will she discover her royal heritage on the way and will Gothel be willing to let her ticket to eternal youth go so easily?
Walt Disney Animation Studios has really stepped outside the box on this one in an effort to capitalize on the success of the CGI-animated Pixar films such as “Wall*E,” “Up” and “The Incredibles.” Disney has taken its classical look and way of telling its story and applied it to CGI in a way not done by Disney Studios before. Designed to look like a watercolor painting, the animators at Disney toiled over uncovering a new look and a way of doing animation. The characters look more life-like, but at the same time have that classic animated feel. I personally found this look intriguing and enchanting, very different from the style Pixar tends to use. The color scheme was romantic, lush and full of life. It really brought the entire world out of the screen at the audience.
The voice casting was dead-on. I didn’t even realize Rapunzel was voiced by Mandy Moore when the movie first started. And Zachary Levi brought just the right amount of confidence and swagger to the role of the dashing thief Flynn Ryder. Their chemistry, matched with the witty dialogue and enhanced by a great supporting cast of voices, made “Tangled” a great film to watch.
I enjoy films in 3D — that is if they were filmed or made in 3D — it just made the entire experience more enjoyable. Unlike many other animated features, where it’s just a gimmick, the 3D was used to help bring the scenes and landscape to the forefront of movie and I found myself really taking it all in. Although this movie doesn’t have things flying off the screen at your face, I really believe that you and your kids will really enjoy the 3D used in this film.
Some of the most humorous parts in the movie come from Maximus, the head palace guard’s horse who acts like a blood-hound. Although he never speaks, his body language and expressions are a great source of laughter. Flynn and Maximus battle each other throughout the movie and their rivalry is hilarious. Another great character is Rapunzel’s only friend from her tower, her little tough chameleon Pascal. His intense eyes and little hand gestures were great; it reminded me of a bodyguard; only this one could fit into your pocket. I can’t do this review without mentioning the army of thugs who helped create one of the funniest scenes in the movie. Some of the talented actors that voiced the pub full of thugs include: Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Tambor and Paul F. Thompkins.
The humor borders on slapstick; so it’s a lot of physical comedy, but all of it is done in the funny Disney way. This movie is quirky and witty in the “Shrek” manner where kids laugh, but parents really get the meaning of the jokes. This movie was made for all and is sure to become one of those classic Disney features you add to your collection for future generations to enjoy.
“Tangled” is a movie about humor, heart and hair and it brushes its way into your local theater Nov. 24. It is rated PG for brief mild violence
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