Monday, December 6, 2010

Film Review: Tangled

"Tangled" **** (out of ****)

"Tangled" (2010) is Disney's 50th animated film and here they show us why they are the best in the biz when it comes to making family entertainment.

"Tangled" is one of the year's best films.

For the last month or so I've been reviewing a few animated films. In this year alone I've seen Dreamworks' "How To Train Your Dragon" (2010), Pixar's "Toy Story 3" (2010), another Dreamworks movie "Megamind" (2010) and now this film. As much as I enjoyed "Megamind" (which I reviewed) I must say "Tangled" is my favorite animated movie of the year.

To be fair, I should say I've mostly enjoyed the films of 2010. I haven't had the same bad reaction I did the two previous years. This year has been a major rebound. But still, "Tangled" is an animated film which managed to convey more human emotions than a good many live action films. Oh, I'm sure there will be those who claim the film, based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale "Rapunzel", is predictable, and I'm not saying it isn't, but it tells its story with so much energy, humor, wonderful music and heart, I couldn't help but become immensely involved in this adventure.

"Tangled" doesn't closely follow the "Rapunzel" story, it makes some subtle changes but overall I approve of what Disney has done. In some ways they've improved upon the story and have given it that classic Disney touch. Disney (and Pixar too) have that great ability to tell stories in a way which are entertaining to children and can hold the attention of adults as well. I saw this movie with my six year old niece and we both enjoyed it. In fact, I'm not all at embarrassed to admit this, but, I suspect I liked this movie more than her. The sentimental scenes probably touched me more than my niece.

Here young Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) has been kidnapped from her parents since birth and has been taken care of by Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), the same woman who kidnapped her. You see Gothel discovered a secret gold plant which had the power to keep her young but one day Rapunzel's mother became very ill during her pregnancy. Her husband, the King, had his men search for the mythical golden flower which Gothel had kept hidden for her own selfish needs. The men find the flower and save the queen. When Rapunzel was born the magic from the flower was transported to her in her hair. That is why Gothel has kidnapped her. And has refused to let her cut her hair. Once that happens her hair will lose its power.

Because of her terrible act Gothel has locked the girl in a tower. When Rapunzel turns 18 however she wants to escape the tower and see what life is like in the real world. Instead of a prince though Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi) accidentally becomes her rescuer. And thus begins their adventure.

"Tangled" has all the elements which makes a great Disney animated film. We have the heartfelt scenes, the moral, the interesting villains and a terrific musical score done by Alan Menken, the man behind "The Little Mermaid" (1989), "Aladdin" (1992) and "Beauty & the Beast" (1991). Each one of those movies had memorable songs. I don't know if any of the songs here will become family favorites but I had a good time listening to them. And Mandy Moore (whom I think is a much better vocalist than Britney Spears) and Donna Murphy have wonderful voices. It is a real pleasure to hear them sing, especially Moore.

Now while "Tangled" does have the expected "message" scenes I do have to say I found myself really caught in the action scenes. They are extremely well done and I was with these characters every hop, skip and leap. I was actually caught in the suspense of the moment.

The animation here is very well done. It looks just as good as any Pixar movie. And like I said, this is my favorite animated movie of the year, including "Toy Story 3".

The movie was directed by Nathan Greno and Bryon Howard who directed Disney's "Bolt" (2008). The script was by Dan Fogelman who wrote "Cars" (2006), "Bolt" and the live action comedy "Fred Claus" (2007).

With "Tangled" Disney proves they are still a major force in the animation game. Pixar and Dreamworks aren't the only two players in town. "Tangled" is a wonderful, heartfelt, humorous, exciting movie. It is sure to please children and adults. One of the year's best.