Toon Talk: Tangled
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Kirby reviews the Disney's 50th animated feature, the hit film Tangled.
Toon Talk: Disney Film and DVD Reviews
by Kirby C. Holt
Walt Disney Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG
It only took 50 films, but Disney finally got around to their version of the classic Grimms’ fairy tale Rapunzel with their latest animated feature Tangled (now in theaters).
You remember Rapunzel; she’s the princess with the really, really long hair who is trapped in a castle and is rescued by “letting down her hair” for a passing prince charming. As you may recall, there’s not a lot of story between the “once upon a time” and the “happily ever after” in this one, so Disney has taken several necessary liberties, such as beefing up the role of the male lead (which I’m sure has absolutely nothing to do with the studio wanting the film to appeal to boys as well as girls… ).
In this telling, Rapunzel (voiced, rather blandly, by Mandy Moore) was kidnapped as a baby from her royal parents by the passive aggressively vain Mother Gothel (Tony Award winner Donna Murphy, chewing all the digital scenery in sight), the only person who knows that the blonde babe holds the secret to eternal youth in her golden locks. In order to keep Rapunzel’s powers to herself, she has locked up the poor waif in a remote tower, refusing to allow her to leave… or to cut her hair.
Like many a Disney princess (and Stockholm syndrome victim) before her, Rapunzel yearns to visit the outside world, and the opportunity to do so arises with the unexpected arrival of one Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi, a.k.a. Chuck from Chuck), a hunky thief who fancies himself the greatest in the land. A deal is struck between them and before you can say “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair”, the unlikely duo is off on their clandestine adventure, with Mother Gothel in hot pursuit.
After the contemporized “fractured fairy tales” of the Shrek series and the self parodying spoof of Disney’s own Enchanted, Tangled tries real hard to return to the classic form of a Cinderella or aSleeping Beauty (with a liberal dose of humor added), but it never quite breaks loose from its formulaic plot. Only in the film’s climactic scene does it offer anything surprising, yet even then it hinges on a flimsy twist (one of many in the film).
Familiarity runs rampant in Tangled: the two leads bicker and quarrel and eventually fall in love just like any other romantic comedy couple. Rapunzel has a cute and cuddly confidante ready made for a Happy Meal near you. And surely by now Disney villains should know to stay away from high places, lest they conveniently fall from them to their untimely doom.