With its past-participle title akin to Enchanted and Frozen, Tangled may not have returned to the good ol’ hand-drawn animation of the Disney Renaissance, like the so-so Princess and the Frog did, but it revitalized the princess genre Disney does so well, leading to the even more popular Frozen (and hopefully many more to come). It’s got all the right ingredients: a spunky young heroine, a dashing hero, a selfish villain, funny animal sidekicks, and catchy Alan Menken music. Is it as good as the Renaissance films? Perhaps not quite, but I still love it.
While past Disney films left most of the humor to the animal sidekicks, the humor in Tangled is much more prevalent, with running gags and knowing looks giving it a more modern sensibility than the somewhat more serious stories of Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Most of the humor is indeed funny (I love the frying pans), but it’s as if the filmmakers were trying too hard at times, such as with Flynn’s “smolder.” Still, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi are undeniably likable as the two leads, though they reportedly weren’t satisfied with their voices.
Despite all the hilarity, there’s also a decent mix of heart. With her inward turmoil over disobeying her “mother,” Rapunzel is one of Disney’s most relatable princesses, and her romance with Flynn/Eugene recalls Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in its promotion of being yourself over attractive fakery. (There’s also a “bunny attack” joke that seems lifted directly from Ella Enchanted.) The brief scenes with Rapunzel’s parents instantly engender sympathy for their loss, and the final reunion is just plain heartwarming.
Upon first hearing the songs, I considered them rather unmemorable, but as I’ve re-watched the film, I’ve grown to love them just like those of Disney’s golden years. They can’t compare with Menken’s best, but I’ve hummed “When Will My Life Begin?” a time or two. As perhaps you can tell, my favorite is the show-stopping “I’ve Got a Dream,” which is hilarious, excellently rhymed, and (along with “Mother Knows Best”) the main song I can envision on the Broadway stage. The final song, Grace Potter’s “Something That I Want,” is catchy enough to earn a place in my End Credits Song Hall of Fame as well.
I followed Tangled’s progress during its production and had high expectations for its painterly animation, and the animators delivered. Almost everything—the solitary tower, the water in the dam scene, the equine details of Maximus, and especially Rapunzel’s seventy feet of luscious hair—is an astounding achievement in its combination of CGI and traditional animation. The floating marshmallow lantern visuals to “I See the Light” are particularly dazzling.
Exceptional animated films usually leave me immediately wanting to see them again, and Tangled was no exception. Though there are some departures from reality, such as how Rapunzel’s long hair never gets dirty and seems to weigh nothing, it possesses few of the Frozen-esque plot holes that people like me love to point out. With its exquisite animation, great characterization, quality music, and continual comedy, Tangled is a winning return to Disney excellence.
Best line: (Flynn, while sword fighting a horse with a frying pan) “You should know that this is the strangest thing I’ve ever done!”Artistry: 7 Characters/Actors: 7 Entertainment: 8 Visual Effects: 10 Originality: 6 Watchability: 9 TOTAL: 47 out of 60
Next: #154 – The Homecoming: A Christmas Story
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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