Tangled is an incredible movie. I have not been so moved by Disney since the final act of Toy Story 3. The animation is incredible and distinct, the song and dance numbers few and high quality, and the plot very moving in the end.
While the movie opened with a rather bland song and dance by Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), it quickly found its feet with the introduction of some of the most likeable characters since the first Shrek film. Mother Gothel is the most insidious and sickly evil Disney villain since I don’t know when: I want to compare her to Ursula from The Little Mermaid, but Mother is far more subtle – not dissimilar to the villain from Snow White. Her song and dance number with Rapunzel was extremely well staged; the lighting effects were perfect. The lyrics were strongly reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Mother” from The Wall; only, instead of a wall, Mother puts Rapunzel in a tower (Mother did it need to be so high?).
The plot revolves around Rapunzel’s separation from her true parents, her longing to find them – even though she doesn’t know that she was kidnapped as a child – her sudden and unexpected meeting with the loveable rogue Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi of Chuck fame), and her magical hair.
His main antagonist, Maximus, makes a great impression and effectively combines the roles of horse, blood-hound, police officer, and swashbuckler. Yes, Maximus is a horse. And, no, he does not have any lines (saved from a Donkey clone!). The other non-speaking-animal, Pascal the chameleon, conveys emotion so effectively with his expressions and eye movements that it makes me wonder why humans need language at all.
Also, who knew that a frying pan could be such an effective weapon?
The tension in the plot runs well throughout the entire movie, and the plot keeps going from beginning to end. Despite the ending being given away in the first moment of the movie, you will still be wondering how it is going to end right through. In the end, however, the plot does simply follow the typical comedic-romantic formula of other movies like Princess and the Frog and all of the Shrek movies. But I don’t think this is a bad thing. This formula works well and has been used in many good and bad movies over the years.
One last thing to add: this is the first Disney-princess movie ever to have a PG rating. You can see why in the movie, and this really makes it more accessible to us adults than other recent Disney offerings (cough, looking at you Princess and the Frog).
Tangled is a really great stand-alone Disney movie – I don’t smell a franchise coming here – which is worth the time and money to see. Just don’t be surprised if the theatre is full of young families; there is a shortage of kid-friendly movies after all.