Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tangled (2010) - Old-fashioned Goodness with a Modern Edge

Tangled: A Delightful Film with an Adorable Couple!

DVD case front and back Tangled 2010
"Tangled" (2010).
"Tangled" (2010), directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, is Disney Animation's re-working of the classic Brothers Grimm tale about Rapunzel, the girl locked in a tower with long, golden, luscious hair. Computer-generated imagery is used in this 3D animation production, but the studio did its best to make it look like a traditional hand-drawn feature.

Tangled 2010

Technical advancements during the long six years of production made the characters' features much more lifelike than in, say, 2004's "The Polar Express" (not to pick on that film, which is fun just the way it is). "Tangled" also has an edge to it which may disconcert some viewers, with some violence and blood, but nothing that should disturb a modern viewer. The songs, while not particularly memorable, are performed well primarily by pop star Mandy Moore and help give Rapunzel's character an added playful dimension.

DVD Tangled 2010
Nobody - nobody - does castles better than Disney.
Gothel (Donna Murphy) discovers a flower that has the ability to restore youth. She hides it away for her own selfish use, but eventually, the king of a nearby kingdom hears about it and takes it to save his pregnant wife, destroying it in the process. The newborn princess (Mandy Moore) inherits the plant's magical powers, illustrated by her long, luscious golden hair.

Tangled 2010

Gothel, determined to regain the plant's power, kidnaps the baby girl and locks her away in a tower, naming her "Rapunzel." The distraught girl's parents honor her memory every year by releasing floating lanterns on her birthday. The baby girl, though, grows up hidden away, knows nothing of her abduction or real parents, and believes that Gothel is her mother.

Faceoff in Rapunzel's tower Tangled 2010
Lots of marriages end up like this.
A thief, Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), steals the tiara of the lost princess and chances upon Rapunzel's tower. He climbs up to visit her, but she subdues him and locks him up in a wardrobe. Rapunzel tells Gothel that her capture of Flynn means she can handle the outside world and should be allowed out, but Gothel denies her request and keeps her imprisoned.

Tangled 2010 Tangled 2010 Tangled 2010
Tangled 2010 Tangled 2010 Tangled 2010
Tangled 2010 Tangled 2010 Tangled 2010

Rapunzel then sends Gothel on an errand that will take several days to complete. Rapunzel takes the opportunity to free Flynn and tells him she will give him back the tiara if he takes her out into the world to visit the pretty lights she can see from her balcony once a year.

Pascal on Flynn's shoulder Tangled 2010
Pascal the Chameleon causing trouble.
Flynn takes her out of the tower but isn't too pleased with the mission. He stops first at the Snuggly Duckling Inn, which is full of bandits, in hopes of scaring her into just giving him the tiara and going back to her tower. Rapunzel charms everyone there, though, and they all become her friends.

Flynn tied up Tangled 2010
But honey, I'll do the dishes next time!
When Gothel returns, she sees that Rapunzel is gone but finds the tiara. She asks the Stabbington brothers (Ron Perlman) to hunt down Rapunzel, who first is chased out of the Inn with Flynn by the King's guards. They wind up in a dark, flooding cave with no apparent way out, where Flynn, thinking all is lost, confesses to Rapunzel that his real name is Eugene Fitzherbert. Rapunzel likewise reveals that her hair can heal people and glows when she sings. She bursts into song, and the light from her hair guides their way outside to safety. The two bond and start falling in love.

Flynn Tangled 2010
Flynn with his "look."
Gothel then shows up and tries to convince Rapunzel that Flynn doesn't care for her and only is humoring her to get the tiara back. The horse of the Captain of the Guards, Maximus, has been hunting Flynn and shows up now. Rapunzel charms him into helping them rather than taking Flynn to prison. They go to see the lights, and then Rapunzel gives Flynn the tiara. Flynn is prepared to give up the tiara to his old comrades in order to keep Rapunzel, but they knock him out and try to kidnap Rapunzel for her magical hair. Gothel shows up again and rescues her, taking her back to the tower, but Rapunzel has learned too much about her past and now wants only to escape and reclaim her place as a princess.

Flynn climbing hair Tangled 2010
"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair."
Flynn is caught by the guards but escapes with the help of Maximus. He immediately returns to Rapunzel's tower, but Gothel stabs him. Rapunzel agrees to do whatever Gothel wants if Gothel will let her heal Flynn. Flynn, though, doesn't want Gothel interfering any more and tries to figure out a way to destroy her forever.

Flynn wanted poster Tangled 2010
I think it's a good likeness.
The plot is intricate and confused in places, but also very sweet. The voice actors are all familiar, with Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Tambor, and Richard Kiel ("Jaws" from the James Bond films) all given minor but memorable roles. Fun fact: both Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel auditioned for the role of Rapunzel but didn't get the part, but their auditions led to their parts in "Frozen."

Tangled 2010
"Tangled" has gorgeous animation.
While this at heart is a story about Rapunzel from the fairy tale, it is made into an adventure with new heroes, a male lead along with the female lead of Rapunzel, and villains. "Tangled" thus becomes a very entertaining feature for all children, whereas a focus on just Rapunzel and her hair inevitably would have turned into a girls-only affair.

Gothel Tangled 2010
The evil Gothel.
There are many songs by Alan Menken, but really, they are not all that spectacular. The real draw of the film is that it has a nice mix of action, adventure, comedy, and romance. Unfortunately, though, with all the elements jumbled together, the film is a bit uneven. It is funny, then somebody gets stabbed, or Mandy starts singing, or Flynn gets thrown into jail. There is no unified structure that identifies this as a musical, or a comedy, or a romance. It is nice that there is a variety, but a common theme would be nice as well.

Maximus and Flynn Tangled 2010
Those are some big buck teeth!
Flynn reminds me of the Bruce Campbell character of the thief "Autolycus" from Kevin Sorbo's television series "Hercules: The Legendary Adventures." He wears the same style of green tunic and displays a similar wise-cracking, knowing style. Most of all, he realizes the power of being a charmer. Rapunzel's ability to crack his facade and force him to reveal his true nature is the part most fans of this film will enjoy the most. Incidentally, some shots of Flynn with his horse look awfully similar to scenes a few years later in "Frozen," when Kristoff cavorts with his faithful reindeer, Sven.

Rapunzel swinging from hair Tangled 2010
Swing, swing, swing all day long!
Disney really can't please anyone in these days of political critiques of everything it does, and this film is a classic example of that. Either it emphasizes Rapunzel too much and loses its young male audience, or it broadens its sweep to include a male hero and invites gratuitous swipes from some critics.

Tangled 2010

While not an epic instant classic like "Beauty and the Beast" or "The Little Mermaid," "Tangled" is a delightful new princess adventure that should satisfy most small children, though not every adult with a warped political agenda for them. Kids seem to like it, and the film was a stunning success at the box office, becoming Disney Animation Studio's second highest-grossing film worldwide, trailing only the internationally-focused "The Lion King."

The tower Tangled 2010
Rapunzel's tower.
Probably the best part about this film, and the reason it is so successful, is that it features a princess who overcomes her problems and falls in love. That is the kind of story that makes peoples' hearts melt. The raw reality is that normal people, the kind that flock to see pictures like this, still want to see a girl fall in love and live happily ever after.

DVD case front and back Tangled 2010
Isn't Rapunzel adorable?
It is such a pleasure when Disney gets it right by reaching back to its roots for the kinds of things that make classics such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Sleeping Beauty" such an enduring part of the culture. Disney understands what people want and gives it to them. They did a very good job of managing that with "Tangled."

Maximus, Flynn, Rapunzel Tangled 2010
Watch out for that wild hair!
The best way to sum this film up is to say that it is Disney updating a classic tale for modern sensibilities, with sitcom gags and a touch of violence, but keeping the essentials intact. Nothing wrong with that, and the film was nominated for an Academy Award for the song "I See the Light," which won a Grammy. This is a fun tale, about a lot more than a girl with long hair, and isn't just a film for girls only.

Rapunzel Tangled 2010
Rapunzel is adorable all by herself!
A short 6-minute sequel, "Tangled Ever After," was released in early 2012 and continues the adventures of Flynn and Rapunzel. The trailer for "Tangled" is provided below for your viewing pleasure, and after it is an introduction to Rapunzel's pet chameleon Pascal.

Tangled 2010


No comments:

Post a Comment