“Tangled,” Disney’s fiftieth animated feature, is a mix of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Broadway show tunes. A retelling of “Rapunzel” featuring beautiful computer animation, a Disney princess and some show stopping tunes isn’t as masterful as last year’s “Princess and the Frog,” but will make your eyeballs dance with its beautiful artwork.
The story begins with the kidnapping of Princess Rapunzel, a magical child whose glowing hair has the ability to restore youth. Nabbed by Mother Gothel, an old crone desperate to regain and maintain her youth, she is locked away in a tower completely shut off from the outside world. Her only knowledge of the world comes from through a tiny window, where, once a year, on her birthday, she sees a beautiful festival of floating lights from the nearby kingdom. On her eighteenth birthday she asks to leave the tower and see the lights up close. Of course her “mother” refuses but she gets her chance when a thief named Flynn Rider breaks into her tower looking for a hideout after stealing the crown jewels. At first he literally wants to get out of her hair, but soon, of course, romance blooms.
The first thing you’ll notice about “Tangled” is the beautiful animation. The characters are still of that big-eyed Disney variety but the attention to detail is incredible. Rapunzel’s long locks look amazing. CG hair is notoriously difficult to get right but here the animators have created the best looking hair since Vidal Sassoon retired, complete with split ends and fly-aways. Ditto for the water. Again, animators have had a hard time recreating water with CG but here, in one sequence on a lake, the incredible recreated water almost steals the whole scene.
The rest of the film has all the usual Disney trademarks, humor, romance, a cute animal sidekick and a great Cruella DeVill-ainess but for me, the movie falls down in the music department. With the exception of two numbers Mama Knows Best and the Dreamer’s Song—sung by a roomful of thugs and containing lines like “though I like breaking femurs, you can count me as a dreamer”—both of which are pure Broadway showstoppers, but the songs sung by the Princess have a generic feel to them.
On the plus side the movie is filled with wonderful set pieces and at least one character who could be spun off to his own movie. Even though he doesn’t have a single line Maximus the palace horse is one of Disney’s best creations in years. His exaggerated facial expressions seem to be borrowed from a Looney Tunes cartoon but a showdown between the horse and Ryder is pure Disney and purely delightful.
“Tangled” isn’t destined to become a Disney classic but is a great diversion for the whole family this year.