November 27, 2010

Tangled, Disney’s Rapunzel makeover, was a fun afternoon at the movies. The star for me was Zachary Levi (Chuck) as Flynn Rider, the charming rogue who serves as Rapunzel’s guide into the big wide world. He does bravado, uncertainty, comedy, and growing emotion all well; he even sings! Mandy Moore as the princess is just fine, but I expected as much from her.

Zachary Levi as Flynn Rider and Mandy Moore as Rapunzel

Zachary Levi as Flynn Rider and Mandy Moore as Rapunzel

I liked the character’s makeover into spunky teen ready to start her adult life; it added a bit more universality to the “princess trapped in the tower” idea. She’s much more of a protagonist than prize here. This works remarkably well as a screwball comedy as well as a fairy tale. Especially once Rapunzel starts swinging her frying pan. (I was afraid she was going to give someone brain damage!) There’s also a touching subplot that brought a tear to my eye just through the skilled animation of particular supporting characters.

Rapunzel protects herself

Rapunzel protects herself

We watched it in a theater full of kids, which meant that during the quieter, personal moments, they got antsy. They were much more entertained by the action scenes (impressive, although one reminded me of a particular ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park) and comedy bits, of which there are many. Although the music is by Alan Menken (lyrics by Glenn Slater), none of the songs seemed like they’d become standards or pop hits. The first one, during which Rapunzel cleans up her tower, was too closely reminiscent of Enchanted. But they do their purpose, carrying along the emotional impacts.

Rapunzel does some cleaning

Rapunzel does some cleaning

Tangled's lovely light effects

Tangled's lovely light effects

KC wished that it would have been done as hand-drawn animation, instead of the 3-D computer generation, because everyone looked a little plastic, but the various floating light effects that make up a big part of the plot probably wouldn’t have been as successful. (Although again, during a water trip sequence, I kept thinking “this is going to be Disney’s next firework show”. I’m so jaded!) I particularly liked Pascal, the pet chameleon. He’s a cute commenter and sidekick, as intended. I haven’t even mentioned the horse that wants to be a dog! I left the theater wanting the DVD, to see the making-ofs and background information.

Pascal from Tangled

I’m glad to hear that the movie is doing extraordinarily well. Maybe this will cause the bean-counters to rethink their ideas that female-centered movies don’t sell. (Although more likely, they’ll just decide that the changes they made worked. Did you know this is the first princess movie to be rated PG?) Either way, congratulations to Disney — this is their 50th Animated Feature! You can see the trailers here.

10 Responses  
James Schee writes:  

I’m really looking forward to seeing this. The commercials have made it so clever looking and fun. I’m glad to see Levi getting more attention, he’s a really talented actor that should have a really great career even beyond the great job he does on Chuck.

Its also not the first time he’s sung professionally either, he did a duet with Katherine McPhee a while back.

Grant writes:  

I’ve liked some of these computer animated movies. Last week I watched Megamind, and I love The Incredibles. But ABC Family had Disney’s Beauty and The Beast and that was such an amazing movie and really made me miss the old animation so much that when it was over I went on Amazon and bought it.

Johanna writes:  

I just got the Beauty and the Beast Blu-ray when it came out last month, but I haven’t had a chance to watch it. I’m glad to hear your recommendation; it makes me more eager to see it.

Joe writes:  

Thanks for the review! As the father of 2 small kids, I was wondering about the PG rating. Anything noticeably PG-ish, or do you think it’s ok for a 4 year old?

Johanna writes:  

I’m not particularly tuned into those kinds of concerns, but the rating board said “brief mild violence”. It wasn’t enough for any example to stand out in my mind, anyway.

KC writes:  

A lot of people get hit in the head with frying pans.

Save the children!

James Schee writes:  

Interesting to note, I was doing some Christmas shopping today in the toy section (I have a 1 & a half year old great niece) and they have toys from the movie out. Some of them have Tangled on it, while others have Rapunzel as the brand name. (both have Disney logo and they look exactly alike, so its not an off brand)

Johanna writes:  

How interesting! I wonder if they were working far enough ahead that they got caught by the movie’s name change, or if Disney is doing a little market testing? Either way, neat observation.

Exclusive Preview of Princeless, Due in October — Recommended! » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[…] attitudes and humor of the book, and the strength of Adrienne’s character. With such works as Tangled and Castle Waiting out there, I was concerned that it would difficult to come up with another […]

Tangled Gets Short Sequel Tangled Ever After, Showing With 3-D Beauty and the Beast » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] be a new short, “Tangled Ever After”, a sequel to last year’s Rapunzel retelling Tangled. It involves the wedding of Flynn and the princess, and as this clip shows, the horse and the […]


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