Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy
Directed by: Byron Howard (“Bolt”) and Nathan Greno (debut)
Written by: Dan Fogelman (“Bolt”)
Disney knows a few things about princesses. Beginning with the unadorned appeal of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” over 70 years ago, the studio has since introduced audiences to a collection of distinctive stories featuring a diverse group of animated princesses all vying for the same thing: true love.
Sure, the image of a princess has evolved over the years to incorporate the more contemporary, independent woman (Princess Fiona from DreamWorks’ “Shrek” series can kick some serious butt), but at the core, the themes that connect films like “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty” and last year’s less enjoyable “The Princess and the Frog” haven’t changed much.
As Disney’s 50th animated film, “Tangled” fits in perfectly with Disney’s previous offerings. It’s a classic narrative combined with creative characters, beautiful computer-generated animation, and a gleeful soundtrack that matches some of the best Disney music since the early 90s.
If “Tangled” really is the last of the fairytale-type movies Disney will make in the foreseeable future (a statement the company made last week), it’s definitely an impressive way to bid a fond farewell.
In “Tangled,” the reimagining of the Brothers Grimm fairytale “Rapunzel,” the original story is given a fresh take while still sustaining elements from animated films like “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid.” In the latest version, an infant Rapunzel is kidnapped from a king and queen by a witch named Gothel who locks her in a tower and raises her as her own child. Obsessed with staying young forever, Gothel takes the baby when she learns Rapunzel’s hair possesses healing powers and works like a fountain of youth.
Now, held captive in the tower (although Rapunzel believes Gothel is just an overprotective mother) with only her always-suspicious chameleon Pascal to keep her company, a teenage Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), whose extremely long golden hair keeps her mother young, dreams of one day leaving her tower and traveling to the kingdom to see a festival of lights that occurs every year on her birthday. Little does she know the lights released into the nighttime sky are for her and that the king and queen have always believed she would find her way home some day. Guiding her through the kingdom is an Aladdin-type thief named Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi) who scales the tower to evade the king’s soldiers who are in pursuit.
Directed by Byron Howard and Nathan Greno working on a clever script by Dan Fogelman, “Tangled” might not get to the highest echelons Disney has ever reached, but there is a brilliant sense of nostalgia as well as a touch of modern-day sassiness that reminds us even without Pixar there for support the Mouse House can still produce plenty of happily-ever-after moments.