January 4, 2011 2 Comments
Disney’s latest animation follows unsuspecting princess Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) as she attempts to pass the time in her tower-top hideaway – with only a moody chameleon, an over protective mother (Dona Murphy) and 70-feet of glow-in the dark enchanted hair for company – all the while harbouring a burning desire to explore the outside world. Determined to witness a floating candle display that inexplicably commemorates her birthday each year (you see, unbeknownst to Rapunzel her mother is not in fact her mother, but a witch using her prisoner’s healing hair to remain young, having kidnapped the princess from the King and Queen responsible for the yearly show), Rapunzel uses petty thief Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) to escape her confines and – hopefully – rediscover her birthright as heiress to her parents’ throne. Phew.
Subject to a title change mid-production, Disney hoped that Tangled might have more cross-gender appeal than naming the movie after its featured princess. Indeed, Rider as fleshed out as ‘Rapunzel’, the movie functions as an engaging odd-couple adventure as the two earn the audiences affections as sparring partners before ultimately sealing the deal with true love’s first kiss. This gender neutral equilibrium not only ensures that Tangled will feature on as many boys lunch boxes as it does girls, but results in one of the studios funniest offerings since 1992’s Aladdin.
Tangled aims to juggle more than just its demographic, however, the filmmaker’s choosing to blend the charm and tradition of the studio’s trademark hand-drawn animation with the fluidity of contemporary CGI – a first for the Mouse House. Overseen by directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, the movie comes to life thanks to amazing visuals, an effective use of the third dimension and a compelling set of individual leads. A technical triumph, Tangled is slightly less effective on other levels.
The primary problem can be isolated to the films’ structure, with the second and third act blurring into an undramatic mess. Boasting, ultimately, an over-protective matriarch as the central villain, Mother Gothel barely registers in the studios pantheon of villainy. In a world of mystical hair and sentient animals, describing Her Boringness as a witch is somewhat of a disappointing misnomer. As a result of her distinct lack of threat and the ease with which her half-hearted evildoing is overcome, the audience is deprived of the show-stealing set-piece that will ultimately immortalise this princess. This non-event undermines the central romance reducing Tangled to a steady-stream of build up with little pay-off, the movie spending too much time establishing each character and not enough time letting them play off one another.
Opening with a The Emperor’s New Groove invoking voice-over, the movie truly starts out as something special. However, a unrealistic romance and decidedly half-baked soundtrack (I cannot recall one song. not one.) rob Tangled of The Princess and the Frog levels of greatness. That said, though not perfect, Tangled is a pleasingly entertaining animation which does nothing to mar the mini-renaissance started by Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon.