Tangled

A horse that acts like a dog and a diminutive chameleon that steals the show. If these were the only things in Tangled that worked, it would have been an entertaining film. But add to these great bits some excellent voice acting, a fresh take on Rapunzel, and some lovely and original animation, and you have an excellent film.

Here’s a preview:

The deets:

Released November 24, 2010

Written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (the fairy tale) and Dan Fogelman (screenplay)

Directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard

Starring Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, and Ron Perlman.

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Story

Tangled is a retelling of the Grimms’ fairy tale Rapunzel. But the writers wisely made the love-interest, Flynn Rider, a significant character in order to make the movie appeal to more than just princess-obsessed, female tweens.

In fact, Flynn (Zachary Levi) is the narrator of the story. He tells the story of Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), essentially a witch, who finds a magic flower that keeps her young for several hundred years. But then the queen of the land has a rough pregnancy and birth, and the king sends searchers out to find the legendary flower. The flower is found and turned into a tea which the queen drinks. She and her baby are fine after the birth, but Mother Gothel is not giving up yet. Gothel discovers that the baby, Rapunzel, has magic golden hair with the same properties of the flower. Gothel tries to cut some hair for herself, but finds out that this kills the snipped hair’s powers and leave the hair that’s still on the head brown and without power.

So Gothel kidnaps Rapunzel. How Gothel got into the castle and then got away so easily becomes a bit of a plot issue, as, later, Gothel doesn’t seem to have such mystical abilities.

In any case, Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) winds up in a tall tower with a couple of windows, through which Rapunzel experiences the world in a limited way. She thinks Gothel is her mother and is convinced that the world outside is a terrible place, populated by thugs and monsters. But she’s fascinated by thousands of lanterns that float through the sky every night on her birthday– and she wants to see where they come from. Also, her only friend is a tiny gecko with a huge personality and who gets many of the laughs of the film.

The lanterns are set aloft by the king and queen as an act of grieving hope.

This is where Flynn enters. He is a lucky thief who, while working with the Stabbington brothers (Ron Perlman), makes off with the missing princess’s crown. He and the brothers are chased by some determined guards, one of whom rides a very determined horse, named Maximus. Max is another huge laugh-getter. His character is very cleverly done. While escaping, Flynn betrays the brothers and runs away with the crown in his pouch.

In order to escape the guards, Max, and the brothers, Flynn scales a tower in the middle of nowhere and is captured by Rapunzel and her very dextrous hair. Soon, they’ve made a deal to have him escort her to see the lanterns and the adventure swings into high gear.

Critique

This is a nicely written movie. The plot is simple and has been seen plenty of times. But the characters making their way through this world and story are fresh and unexpected and all kinds of fun. The scene with the thugs is particularly enjoyable.

What really stands out about this film is that Rapunzel is a very pro-active lady. She makes her choices, changes her circumstances, and saves Flynn as often as he saves her. She is also drawn in a way that Disney seems to have been averse to in the past. To be quite frank, she is not large-bosomed and she has an unusual face. I think this is wonderful. She finds her own destiny, discovers the truth about herself, and is the prime mover and shaker in her world. She is decisive– and this is why we love her. She also genuinely loves her ‘mother’ and is thus genuinely horrified when she discovers what Gothel has done.

Flynn is also a nicely done character. He was never a bad guy, although he is very selfish. His history is well crafted and it motivates much of what he does. Add to these two characters a believable and very crafty antagonist and the funny creatures already mentioned and you have a movie that pretty much anyone will love. The writers of this film have clearly got the right idea about finding a funny moment and taking it as far as it can go before it becomes unfunny.

Also, the two main voice actors, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi do such a nice job. They imbue their animated counterparts with heart and wit and intelligence.

My family loved this movie. There are two moments where Rapunzel slightly disappoints- in that she is not as strong as she could have been- but they make sense in the context of the story. But otherwise, she is a princess I wouldn’t mind my daughter adoring.

Content warnings: Any violence is cartoonish; there is no risque language; and there is no sexual content whatsoever. What’s more, the family dynamics are very nice.

Writing: 4.5          Acting: 5        Overall: 5

Don’t believe me? See if my review matches those on Rotten Tomatoes.

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About jared

Jared Garrett works as a writer, the manager of a program development department in the corporate world, and an instructional designer. He is a family man with an adorable, fun, and way-too-smart wife, six silly kids, a new house with an overgrown back yard, seven fish, and a bunch of chickens. He has written fiction, user manuals, SEO copy, radio scripts and textbooks and has won first place in the Mayhew writing contest at BYU and received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. He lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and is currently seeking representation for his myriad completed novels.
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