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"Tangled" {Blu-ray} - (Chris)
Reviewer:
Chris Pandolfi
Studio: Disney
Genre:
Family
Release Date:
3/29/11
Special Features:

See Below

Review:

One of the pleasures of watching "The Princess and the Frog" a year ago was in knowing that Disney was getting back in touch with their roots. They gave us a traditional hand-drawn animated film, a process they had abandoned after the 2004 release of "Home on the Range." It was like witnessing a glorious rebirth, the resurrection of a seemingly lost art form. My hope what that it would once again become custom for animated films to be done by hand. It may be painstaking, but can you deny the beautiful results? The backgrounds. The form of the line. The coloring. The lighting. The mattes. Alas, it wasn't to be; for "Tangled," Disney has once again discarded pencil and paper for a computer screen. They have also released it in 3D, a cinematic beast that cannot be tamed.***

But please, don't get the wrong idea. "Tangled" is not a bad movie at all. It's funny, sweet, and adventurous, and it's strong in character, story, and theme. And like all the good Disney animated films, hand-drawn or otherwise, it puts a refreshingly modern twist on a classic fairy tale, "Rapunzel" in this case. It also employs a major talent that "The Princess and the Frog" would have greatly benefited from: Composer Alan Menken, who - along with lyricists such as Tim Rice, Stephen Schwartz, and the late Howard Ashman - was a key figure of the Disney Renaissance, having composed such memorable tunes as "Be Our Guest," "Under the Sea," and "Colors of the Wind." His ear for melody compliments Disney so well, it's almost a shame it isn't like it was in the Golden Age of Hollywood, when cast and crew were contractually obligated to work for a specific studio.***

"Tangled" begins with the story of a golden flower that sprouted when a drop of sunshine fell to Earth. It glowed like fire and possessed magical rejuvenating properties when sung to. A vain old crone named Mother Gothel (voiced by Donna Murphy) depended on it to continuously restore her youth, and so it remained for several centuries until the Queen of the kingdom fell ill while pregnant; upon drinking an elixir made from that golden flower, not only was the Queen brought back to health, she also gave birth to a daughter with magical golden hair. Gothel, desperate to reclaim her immortal good looks, is forced to kidnap the infant princess, since cutting her hair off robs it of its healing powers. And so the princess was raised as Gothel's own in an isolated tower, where she was conditioned to be fearful of the outside world while her hair continued to grow longer and longer and longer.***

We meet this princess, the innocent Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore), on the verge of her eighteenth birthday. Although she takes Gothel's lies at face value, she remains curious about an annual event held off in the distant kingdom: The releasing of hundreds of floating lanterns, which Rapunzel has figured out are not stars. Is it a coincidence that this event takes place on her birthday? She would like to find out. Here enters the film's narrator, Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachery Levi), a handsome, smooth-talking bandit who seeks refuge in Rapunzel's tower after robbing the King and the Queen. Upon coming to after being whacked in the head with a frying pan several times, he and Rapunzel strike a deal: If he promises to take her to see the lantern ceremony on her birthday, she promises to return his stolen loot, which she has hidden from him. And so begins Rapunzel's first venture away from home, a journey that will include chases, encounters, escapes, revelations, and yes, even romance.***

It's traditional for an animated film to feature supporting players that are funnier and more memorable than the protagonists. "Tangled" provides us with several such characters, including Rapunzel's pet chameleon, Pascal, and a royal horse named Maximus, who has the nose of dog, the reflexes of a cat, and - when in the presence of Flynn - the personality of a mean older brother. We're also given a number of pub-crawling thugs who secretly harbor sentimental hopes and dreams. One of them, voiced by Brad Garrett, has always wanted to be a concert pianist, despite having a hook for a hand. Inspired by Rapunzel's innocence, they all reveal their desires during the film's best song, a hilarious showstopper called "I Got a Dream."***

Special Features:

Untangled: The Making of a Fairy Tale (BD-exclusive): exactly how long is Rapunzel's hair? How many lanterns were used? Where did Pascal's name come from? Which Disney animated feature first utilized CG animation? These and more will be answered when Mandy Moore and Zach Levi take viewers on a kooky behind-the-scenes tour to learn how the filmmakers styled this film's Golden Tresses./Three deleted scenes with introductions by co-directors Byron Howard and Nathan Greno (BD-exclusive)/Extended songs with introductions by the co-directors (BD-exclusive): "When Will My Life Begin"& "Mother Knows Best/Two original storybook openings: two alternate versions of the film's opening sequence described by the co-directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard/50th Animated Feature Countdown A video montage celebrating Tangled as the 50th film to join The Walt Disney Studios' prestigious lineup of classic animated features./Nine Tangled teasers (BD-exclusive): a collection of the most unique and quirky commercials made for the theatrical release of Tangled Some are spoofs based off of infomercials and/or breaking news, some are teasers and others are simply just funny filmstrips.

Final Words:

"Tangled" is, in short, a pleasant, entertaining, competent animated film, a decent addition to the Disney animated-feature canon. Even so, I would have preferred to once again watch a traditional cel animated film. Perhaps I'm remember with longing the days of glorious labor-intensive productions like "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," and classics like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Pinocchio," and "Sleeping Beauty." Simply looking at these movies is an experience unto themselves. I also think that the film's original title of "Rapunzel" would not have altered its success in any way, despite Disney's belief that "The Princess and the Frog" lost out on a potential viewership of young boys. Forget about marketing and demographics - just focus on the story.***

 

 
 
 
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