- Movie Rating -

Tangled (2010)

| December 4, 2010 | 0 Comments

Going back to my childhood, hearing the story of Rapunzel, there was a nagging issue that always bothered me. Follow me on this: Here is the story of a maiden with extremely long hair who was held captive in the tall tower waiting for her prince to come and rescue her. When he arrives, he implores her “Rapunzel! Rapunzel! Let down your hair!”, to which she drops her hair down to ground level so he can climb it like a rope. Here’s my issue: He’s a grown man, climbing her hair like a rope . . . that is attached to her head! How is her hair not being pulled out by the roots?

That’s a question, I’m afraid that no one seems to be able to properly answer, neither in the 199 year-old tale told first written by The Brother’s Grimm nor in Disney’s lively new computer-animated version which turns Rapunzel’s over-developed locks into a tool of 1001 uses. Seriously, she hangs from it, makes a jump rope with it, and even ties the intruding prince to a chair with it. I guess the easy answer is: her hair is magic, lay off! Here it is explained that her blond locks have the power to heal when she sings a certain song. What happens if she gets the words wrong?

The story in this version tells us that when Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) was a baby, her hair was accidentally enchanted by an old crone called Mother Gothel (voiced by Donna Murphy) who had discovered a spell for retaining her youth and beauty. In order to keep the enchantment safe, she kidnapped the child, pretended to be her mother and locked her in a tall tower and forbade her to step outside. As Rapunzel grew up, she wondered, naturally, what was out there. As she grows, so does her hair. If she cuts it, her hair turns brown and the spell dies. Got it? Good!

Her salvation is not a regal prince but a thieving goof named Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachary Levi of TV’s “Chuck”). Flynn is not his real name, I’ll leave that for you to discover. Anyway, he has stolen some crown jewels and is on the run from some of the palace guards. He finds himself stashing away in Rapunzel’s tower until the heat’s off – that’s how he comes to find himself tied to a chair by her long hair. Naturally the story will involve the pair falling in love and doing battle with Mother Gothel for the enchantment that lies within those golden tresses.

The story is a bit standard. The love story, the magic spell, the villain, the music. They are all lifted from a hundred other Disney musicals. I think the screenwriters knew that because they were smart enough to give the movie a wicked sense of humor. All of the characters have bold personalities, whip-smart dialogue and wonderfully expressive faces. This is a fun movie just to listen to. In tone, the movie has the kind of wise-cracky freshness and sense of humor that made Shrek so special (and that its sequels never quite achieved).

The film also benefits from the presence of two wonderful supporting characters. One is a chameleon who is Rapunzel’s only companion. His face is very expressive and so is his ever-shifting skin color the functions like a mood ring. The other is a very clever horse, part of the king’s guard. He is ever-efficient and ever-determined to hunt down Flynn and bring him to justice. This is some horse, not only is he a beast of burden but he’s also part bloodhound and, at one point, a pretty good swordsman. The fact that these two characters never speak allows their body language to speak for them. They are more expressive that way.

Tangled is part of the new 3D revolution. The palette is made of vibrant with colors that are clean and polished. The characters almost resemble Barbie Dolls. That may be the film’s only real flaw, it is too clean. There’s nothing in the artistry to make it distinctive or to further the art of animation or to try new things. Immediately after I saw Tangled, I saw the wonderful Irish animated feature The Secret of Kells – this happened purely by coincidence. That film had a texture and a form of the illustrations one might find in a children’s story book. The characters were angular, squared and pointed in a way that matched their personalities (Think of the form of “Samurai Jack” and you get the idea). Here the characters and the landscapes all look manufactured. We don’t feel we’re looking at a special place, just a manufactured background. Still, with that limitation, I had a good time. I laugh a lot, the characters intrigued me and I walked away with the image of a man with a frying pan dueling a horse with a sword. Where else are you going to see that?

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2010) View IMDB Filed in: Animated, Kids