Monday, April 18, 2011

FILM: Living the Dream - Tangled (Review)

Two decades ago, Disney Animation entered a golden age of feature film releases with the likes of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. One decade later, the sun began to set on Disney's animated hits leading to an eventual philosophical change in 2006 when Pixar was bought and the minds in charge of that studio were brought in to run Walt Disney Animation Studios.

And now, after putting finishing touches and improving the quality of Disney Animation feature films like Meet the Robinsons, Bolt, Princess and the Frog, the product has been taken to a new level with their latest release, "Tangled", which also happens to be the fiftieth Disney animated feature produced.

Directed by Nathan Greno ("Meet the Robinsons" screenplay writer) and Byron Howard ("Bolt"), "Tangled", like Princess and the Frog, is a return to Disney's wheelhouse - a princess fairytale. "Tangled" is based off of the German tale "Rapunzel", about a girl who is forced to live in a tower by an enchantress that took her from her parents and she has incredibly long hair and meets a prince.

With Disney's version, Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is a lost princess living in a hidden tower with who she believes is her mother. Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) actually kidnapped Rapunzel from her parents, the king and queen, because of the magical abilities contained in her hair. Along comes the thief, Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), who has just stolen the tiara of the missing princess and needs a place to hide from the kingdom guards and the accomplices he double crossed. Rapunzel has a wish to see the floating lights that always appear only on her birthday and sees Rider as an opportunity to do just that and that is where the fun begins.

In the classic style of Disney, "Tangled" is an animated musical and as such the main characters were cast brilliantly. Musician and actress Mandy Moore plays Rapunzel perfectly with the cheery attitude and peppiness for the girl's innocence along with her melodious voice for the catchy songs. The film ends up being a breakout performance for actor Zachary Levi ("Chuck"), who as Flynn Rider plays the devilishly handsome hero role well and displays a talent for singing that was never before heard from him. And to bring veteran stage actress Donna Murphy into the film to play Mother Gothel might be the film's smartest move. Her voice captures the wickedness needed for a Disney villain and her singing takes the film to the next level.

The most magical part of the film may have to be the look and feel of it. It is by far one of the most beautiful animated movies I have ever seen, and very smartly they seemed to mold the design of the main characters to reflect the actors that voice them. Along with Pascal, the cute chameleon who at the beginning is Rapunzel's only friend, and Maximus, the kingdom guard horse that eventually becomes an ally to Flynn Rider thanks to Rapunzel, the film is filled with fabulously designed characters to fill out the supporting cast of "Tangled".

Any animation or Disney fan should immediately go out and see "Tangled" because you will not be disappointed. It is unfortunate that the film came out in a year where Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon had already wowed audiences and will probably be considered underrated as a result but in every respect this film matches their level of quality and entertainment. In my eyes it is an instant Disney classic that I will repeatedly rewatch in the future endlessly. It is worth a look without a doubt.

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