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TANGLED (2010)

>> Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's a pleasure to get tangled up in this Disney flick.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your long hair! Words that ring through all our heads, no doubt, when we remember the fairy tales we grew up with. In fact, aside from Goldilocks and the Three Bears and those silly Hansel and Gretel kids, Rapunzel was one of the fairy tales I remember most. I don't know if it was easy to read or what the reason is, but it's there - engrained in my memory.

In Tangled, the tale sinks its talons into my memory deeper still. For the first time though, not as words on a page or pictures in a book. But as a charming, fun, whitty and quite aesthetically pleasing adventure.

The film starts off in the usual fairy tale manner - a long time ago, in a land far, faw away, etc. That's all there, of course, to set up Rapunzel's backstory and how she ended up in the tower. In the original fairy tale it's because the witch who took Rapunzel from her parents (as a punishment), put her in a tower to simply keep her from the outside world. With Tangled, it's more or less the same, save for the fact that Rapunzel's (Mandy Moore) long hair is long because once cut, it loses the power to heal and keep the witch, named Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), young. Believe it or not, the backstory is set up quite nicely; and in a way that has an old school Disney air to it - which was nice to see after the disapointment that was The Princess and the Frog (2009). I don't care if it was Disney's return to classic animation and fairy tales - I just wasn't into it.

Eventually the handsome prince, or in this case, a thief named Flynn (TV's Chuck lead, Zachary Levi) finds Rapunzel's looming tower. He climbs up to and inside the tower using arrows to scale the side of it, in an affort to hide from the authorities that are chasing him. That's where he meets Rapunzel, who eventually coerces Flynn into taking her to the kingdom to see where the lights in the sky come from (one of the only mysterious views she has from her window). The lights are floating lanterns released by the town every year on Rapunzel's birthday, to honor her memory after she was kidnapped eighteen years ago. Flynn reluctantly agrees and the two begin their journey. Throw in several musical numbers (some memorable, some not) and a few wacky characters, and you have the first CG movie released by Disney that has successfully married old school Disney style with new school CG and 3D technology.

The biggest problem Tangled has (and it's barely a problem really), is that it may borrow a little too much from old school Disney. Certain mannerisms and the way Mother Gothel moves may remind you of Ursula from The Little Mermaid (1989). Flynn is undoubtedly inspired by Aladdin and Rapunzel is definitely reminiscent of most other Disney princesses. One can argue that this is all an omage compliment of the young animators, putting a little of the films they loved as kids into their very own Disney movie.

What I loved most about Tangled, however, was just how funny it was. It was random, it was clever, it was a shining example of just how Disney has modernized their humour - and it works wonderfully! The way the jokes played out in this film, reminded me a lot of Meet the Robinsons (2007), in the sense that it knows today's audience are smarter and quicker - and comedy has evolved to that level as well. Physical humour doesn't hold up as well as it used to in the animated classics we all know and love. Today, it's about wit, charm and obscurity - that's what Tangled embraces and I loved it.

I am giving Tangled an open door. Despite it's overuse of classic Disney cliches, one can argue it wouldn't really be a Disney flick without it. I will say that it falls apart a little at the end as the obligatory romance blossoms and the characters are forced into their happy ending. The film was far more enjoyable at the beginning when it wasn't worried about getting to that inevtibale, romantic, fairy tale conclusion. As aformentioned though, these are little problems that I'm only nitpicking on. Don't let it hold you back from going to see this film, especially in theatres. While the 3D doesn't blow your mind (as it rarely does), it's a nice way to get lost in the Tangled world - which is very pretty to look at and quite vibrant.

In the original Rapunzel, by the way, at the end of the story, the prince accidentally pierces his eyes as he falls on thorns and spends years walking around blind trying to find his princess. Disney didn't include this ending. Not sure why, but I suppose they do have they standards...

*Stills courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios


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