“You broke my smolder.”
When Disney announced they were making an animated film about the Brothers Grimm story Rapunzel
, I know I wasn’t one to be that excited about that idea. The story seemed very one note: A girl with long hair is locked up in a tower by an evil enchantress and it will take a prince to save her. Not much adventure and excitement when you mention that little synopsis.
But what the animation studio did instead was take the basic story of a girl named Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), taken from her parents who are king and queen of the kingdom by Gothel (Donna Murphy), who uses Rapunzel’s hair to keep from aging. When a rogue named Flynn (Zachary Levi) is on the run from the law after stealing the princess’ crown from the castle and stumbles upon the tower, he and Rapunzel are intertwined on an adventure; hers is to escape her prison of a home and see the paper lanterns that fly during her birthday every year. His is to get back the tiara and escape getting caught.
Walt Disney Animation’s 50th feature length film is a sight to behold. The choice to use CGI animation as opposed to hand drawn like they did previously with The Princess and the Frog is in its favor. Tangled looks beautiful, from frame one to the very end. The blu-ray just accentuates this ten-fold, especially the animator’s love for oil canvas paintings. The Rococo paintings of Jean-Honore Fragonard were definitely a huge reference point for the animators.
Tangled works really well because we are essentially out of the tower pretty soon into the film. Mandy Moore’s Rapunzel is cute, naive, shy and ultimately she’s a young female that girls can relate to, especially with the whole concept of fear of the outside world, especially by an overbearing parent (in this case Gothel who is using her for her own gain). It might be looking a bit too deep into the film, but the story of Rapunzel isn’t the first story people think of when thinking of a pro-feminist one. Disney took the story, gave it their trademark ‘spin’, changed a bit of the initial story, and added a quirky cast of characters to make a whimsical film that is just a fun romp.
Besides the trio we know as our main characters, we also have a chameleon named Pascal, who without any words says so much with facial expressions and motions of his body. We also have my favorite character of the movie, Maximus, who is the horse of the kingdom’s head soldier. What makes him so bizarre is that he is intelligent and almost acts like a police hound, always searching for clues and attempting to get his man, who is Flynn. Their interactions are funny because Flynn is fighting back if it was another guy who was trying to bust his chops. And they’re always trying to one up one another, which makes for some classic comedy. Tangled is in the same vein as The Emperor’s New Groove, with a princess instead. Has some of that madcap slapstick comedy, but still has itself centered enough with Rapunzel.
A big surprise was the return of Alan Menken, who was one of the two masterminds behind the last great boom of Disney Animation music (his partner Howard Ashman and he did the music for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin). The soundtrack is a great mix of medieval music with 1960’s folk rock, and having Mandy Moore and one of the greatest musical actresses, Donna Murphy, to sing these songs, you have a winning combination there. The songs are catchy, cute and you continue to think of them long afterward.
The new Blu-ray is a bit lacking compared to past and future Disney animated releases. We get a handful of deleted scenes (which are voiced sketches/storyboards), two storybook openings introduced by the directors, a two minute video showing all 50 feature length animated films, a bunch of teaser trailers, a crash course on Blu-ray navigation hosted by Timon and Pumbaa and Untangled: The Making of a Fairy Tale, a 12 minute video hosted by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi speaking a bit about Disney films in general and the making of Tangled. One wishes there was at least a commentary track with the directors, considering they’re a part of the making-of videos throughout this disc
Rapunzel is a new princess to include with the pantheon of Disney princesses we’ve known and loved over the years. Be it Snow White, Belle, Ariel, Jasmine or Aurora, they tend to share similar characteristics, even after all these years. Big eyes, quirky, beautiful and strong in their own ways, young girls gravitate toward them because Disney films usually are some of the first films kids are allowed to see, and on repeat as well. Tangled is definitely worth a buy, especially if you’re a Disney completest.