Based on a popular Brothers Grimm fairy-tale and helmed by Nathan Greco and Byron Howard (screenplay by Dan Fogelman), Tangled is the simple yet elegant tale of a young princess named Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore), who is born of a mysterious and all-healing flower, whose abilities have transferred over to her golden hair. But, as an infant, she is kidnapped and forced to live in a tower which was built by Gothel (voiced by Donna Murphy), an old-hag who insists on keeping the hair’s power to reverse the aging process all for herself. Once Rapunzel grows up to a teenager, though, she yearns for the outside world, particularly to see an annual festival in which lanterns are released into the night sky (unknowing that these are meant as a message from her parents). However, Mother Gothel refuses to let Rapunzel leave, claiming that there are evil beings on the outside. Rapunzel soon finds her solution in Flynn Ryder (voiced by Zachary Levi), a bandit on the run from royal guards (she uses the royal crown which he stole, as a bargaining chip). Nevertheless, she falls in love, which leads the duo to some hairy (pun intended) situations (all of which involved Mother Gothel chasing them).
The simplicity of Tangled is a double-edged sword. In one respect, this allows the story to maintain the classic Disney spirit, without being bogged down with the stereotypical army of evil, tyrannical king, etc. However, this also leads to some incredibly predictable scenes. More often than not, though, the film’s characters, namely Flynn and Rapunzel, are fleshed out enough for Tangled to remain not only entertaining, but also relevant.
It too feels like it’s been too long since the original spirit and ingenuity of Walt Disney have been exemplified. Tangled serves as the antidote to the ever-evolving, and increasingly cheap, array of tween-pop icons that strut the Disney name. It will entertain all of those disapproving former-fans, who feel personally affected by what has become a mainstream example of the demonic presence of profit in media — let’s call it the “Anti-Walt” for dramatic effect.
The thing about Tangled, which was generally dismissed as garbage, pre-release, is that instead of having plenty of pop-culture references, and amateurish slapstick, it features an abundance of heart, that is present in all of the film’s characters. Additionally, the story, which appears bare-bones at first glance, is quite potent thematically, with ideas such as selfishness and triumph over oppression — perhaps being a subtle allegory for Nathan Greno and Byron Howard’s need to rekindle the Disney name.
But a story this elegant requires an equal amount of visual beauty, and this film delivers. Character models and landscapes are done with textures and colors that seem to be hand-drawn, but instead were created by the New-Age technology that we’ve all become accustomed to: computer graphics. However, this mix of classicism and technology never clash, in fact, they produce fantastic chemistry. Though Tangled does have a few kinks in visual department; the 3D is too gimmicky and there are a couple of headache inducing sequences, such as when we get an up-close and personal look at Rapunzel’s beloved lanterns. This particular scene is straining in that it emits an almost blinding wall of lights.
The musical numbers are also a tad weak. Lyrically, they aren’t impressing, and some border on being superfluous. However, even the weakest songs are catchy, and aren’t quite damning to the overall product. (It is surprising how well Moore, Levi, and Murphy can sing, though).
Nathan Greco, Byron Howard, and Dan Fogelman strike gold with Tangled, which is fresh and entertaining for both kids and adults. But based on the fact that Rapunzel could pull people up using her hair, the film did leave me with one question: What conditioner does she use?