Friday, November 26, 2010

Movie Review: "Tangled"


Tangled is another animated motion picture in a long line of Disney movies trying to recapture their past glories without really stepping out to reclaim the animation field. We all know the story of Rapunzel, how she's locked away in a tower and such, but Disney gives it their trademark fairy tale twist (and I almost thought that they'd run out of fairy tales). Rapunzel was long ago kidnapped from her King and Queen parents by a wicked woman who wanted to use Rapunzel's hair to stay young. Of course, this is a musical, with music from Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid), so it makes sense that whenever Rapunzel sings a certain song, her hair has the ability to heal or make one youthful once more, but if Rapunzel's hair is ever cut, she will lose that power forever. Thus her abductee of a mother locks Rapunzel up in a tower all her life till the paths of Rapunzel and the country's most notorious thief, Flynn Rider, cross and romance ensues as, with Flynn as her guide, Rapunzel finally leaves her tower.

Tangled does feel Disney throughout, but it just feels as if we've seen this same Disney movie at least ten times by now, which I think goes against its goal. Tangled desired to be an update on the age old Disney princess-fairy tale formula, and I don't know if it worked entirely. The animators seemed to focus more so on action and adventure and more slapstick-like comedy than ever before, coating it in glossy CG-animation that just made me pine for the good ol' hand drawn days again. The music was not as memorable, nor as enjoyable as that of previous Menken/Disney collaborations; while the songs were solid, there was never that tune that you just couldn't get out of your head like "A Whole New World" or "Beauty and the Beast". Regardless, Tangled still managed to be a movie that is entertaining and funny throughout, in a large part due to their fresh takes on the stock Disney characters of the Princess and Prince Charming.

Rapunzel was a very different kind of Disney Princess than we're accustomed to seeing, less sure of herself and more of an innocent child who can't make up her mind between her dreams or her loyalty to her abductee of a mother. Her beau is Flynn, the kind of swashbuckling Prince Charming that the old Disney movies lacked, a thief with a soul and charisma behind those good looks. Unfortunately, the weakest character was the villainess of Rapunzel's adoptive mother, whose character never seems to fully commit to her villainy, starting out as merely a person possessed by greed and not fully transitioning into a force of evil. I feel much more could have been done with her character in playing with the idea that she only pretends to like Rapunzel and doesn't actually love her, which was hinted at a lot through the character's facial expressions. I will say, the silent animal characters of Maximus the Horse and Pascal the Chameleon make up for any shortcomings with laughs, these two characters having benefitted the most from this more slapstick-Emperor's New Groove-style approach.

So what can I say, Tangled maybe tries too hard to be a blast from the past and it never really comes into its own. There are many great ideas played around with here, and this really is the most entertained I have been by a Disney animation since Tarzan, but Disney tries to hold onto the past too much here and doesn't let the past go to try and usher in a new era of Disney animation. So what if Tangled feels so familiar that I can pretty much predict what will happen? There is a reason the Disney formula from the '80s and '90s worked, and there's a reason it worked way back in the '20s with Snow White. It's heartwarming, and the big duet between Rapunzel and Flynn on the lake surrounded by glowing lanterns is Disney magic, no matter how you feel about the rest of the movie's execution.

I give Tangled a C+!

5 comments:

  1. so jonathan and i should see it at the $1 theater instead of paying full price, right?

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  2. Tangled could have been a disaster. Directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard really pushed for something different by attempting to modernize a classic tale for contemporary audiences while combining the classic storylines and imagery of Disney’s illustrious past. All of that experimentation can unbalance a film by leaning too heavily on one side or the other, but Tangled does a remarkable job at harmonizing the past and present. Gorgeous CG, an involving and up-tempo score, and some of the best sidekicks seen on screen propel this take on the character of Rapunzel. There is a sense of contemporary fun throughout the film, and yet the heart remains where it should; right in the middle.

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  3. I actually loved that one. It's true - I wasn't hoping for much, cause the trailer seemed quite idiotic, but this movie was pure fun. So no, it's not the classic Disney, but it is entertaining and charming in it's own way. Thanks for the clever review! :)

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