Reviewed by GREG KING
Directors: Byron Howard, Nathan Greno
Stars: voices of Zachary Levi, Mandy Moore, Donna Murphy, Brad Garrett, Richard Kiel, Ron Perlman, M C Gainey, Jeffrey Tambor.
The fiftieth animated film from Disney is a winner in the same vein as classics like Beauty And The Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. Written by Dan Fogelman (Cars, Bolt, etc) Tangled takes the traditional Grimm fairy tale of Rapunzel and turns it upside down, giving it a more contemporary flavour and adding some sassy humour to the mix.
Having learned from the failure of their previous animated film The Princess And The Frog, Disney have ensured that Tangled contains enough action and derring-do that the film should also hold some appeal for younger male audiences as well. Tangled has been overseen by former Pixar head John Lasseter, whose emphasis on strong story lines and impressive visuals pays off handsomely here.
Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) is a princess who has been locked inside a tower ever since the wicked Mother Gothel (Broadway star Donna Murphy) discovered the healing and rejuvenating powers of her golden locks. Gothel kidnapped her and has kept her prisoner for the past 17 years, forbidding her to cut her magical tresses. While Rapunzel grows curious about the world beyond her tower she is reluctant to leave because of the horror stories she has heard.
The devilishly handsome and kindhearted thief Flynn Ryder (voiced by Chuck star Zachary Levi) stumbles across Rapunzel’s tower while on the run from palace guards after stealing the crown jewels. He reluctantly agrees to help her find her way back home to the palace, and restore her to her family. Thus begins an adventure tinged with a touch of danger and even stronger hint of romance. Rapunzel’s long locks come in handy during some daring escapes and close calls. There are also some wonderful scene stealing moments from a horse named Maximus, a marvelous creation, and a cheeky chameleon named Pascal.
The film has been directed in slick fashion by Byron Howard (Bolt) and former animator Nathan Greno, making his feature film directorial debut here. The computer-generated animation is rich and colourful, and the superb attention to detail and character maintains the high standards of recent animated fare from the House of Mouse. However, the 3D effects, while excellent, actually add little to the film.
In keeping with recent appealingly spunky, independent minded Disney heroines Moore’s Rapunzel is far feistier than in the original tale. The strong jawed, wisecracking but surprisingly vulnerable and sensitive Ryder is a perfectly heroic foil, and Levi brings a sense of bluster to the role. Tony winning Broadway veteran Murphy brings caustic wit and bite to her performance as the evil godmother of the story. The strong vocal cast also includes Everybody Loves Raymond’s Brad Garrett, James Bond’s villainous Jaws Richard Kiel, Ron Perlman (Hellboy, etc), M.C. Gainey and Jeffrey Tambor.
As usual, the film also offers up a couple of tunes penned by Disney regular and Oscar winning composer Alan Menken in collaboration with Glenn Slater. However here the musical numbers tend towards the bland and, with the exception of the show stopping “Mother Knows Best“, are instantly forgettable. Tangled is classic Disney, a crowd pleasing animated romp suitable for all ages.
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