At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Tangled “2010”

MPAA Rating: PG/ Genre: Animated Musical-Adventure/ Voices of: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Brad Garrett, Ron Perlman, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Kiel, M. C. Gainey, Paul F. Tompkins/ Runtime: 100 minutes

I think it is safe to start this review off by saying that much like the vast majority of animated films made by Disney which are based on iconic fairy tales of yore, the movie Tangled is one which takes its fair share of creative and artistic liberties with the source material all so it can build for audiences a film that is more family-oriented than the original, and significantly darker, source material would’ve otherwise allowed. As a result we see that this is quite typical of a lot of other fairy tale films from Disney in that its narrative is constructed around a well-thought up cast of characters and an obvious divide between the forces of good and evil. Also, and on a superficial level, we see that this film is constructed around singing, dancing, adventure, comedy, passion, and love which have all been in play with these films since the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs all the way back in 1937. Yes there is no denying that a lot has changed in the 7+ decades between this pair of films, but it also can’t be denied that even if the budget is bigger, the technology has made filmmaking more immersive, and the animation been given a serious upgrade, Tangled is still iconic Disney magic at work dear reader. Yes it may be at moments bit long in the tooth and a little too rough and tumble when it comes to its narrative, but Tangled is still at heart an engaging little stroll back into what Disney does so well which will really make you wonder just why in the world it took Disney so long to make a film based off this truly iconic fairy tale character.

The plot is as follows: Once upon a time (I mean this IS a fairy tale after all) a singular droplet of sunlight made its way to Earth, and where it landed, a magical flower soon blossomed that could heal anyone or make you young again. Yet while the power of the flower had since then been used by an elderly woman by the name of Gothel, this all changes when the with-child queen of the land falls ill only to be made better by this magic plant and soon conceives of a daughter by the name of Rapunzel whose hair has managed to keep the unique gift that the plant possesses. To that end, when a once again elderly Gothel learns of this child with the magic hair-do, she decides to abduct the little girl (apparently Liam Neeson wasn’t on guard duty that night), keep her held in a tall tower, and forbid her to ever get a haircut otherwise the magic would be lost. Yet even as Gothel regularly comes to see the girl, and also help herself to the magic, Rapunzel, when our story truly begins, is a teen with a hair-do over 70 feet long and who wants to be let out every once in a while. Indeed, like most teenagers, she desires not only to see the world, but also this year in particular really yearns to see a series of floating lights that appear on her birthday every year up close. Of course it should not come as any big shock to learn that Gothel doesn’t give Rapunzel her blessing to do so, but when a nearby crook by the name of Flynn Rider decides to hide out in Rapunzel’s tower, our heroine with the magical hair sees an opportunity. To that end, she knocks him out, hides his body from Gothel, and upon seeing him regain consciousness, coerces him to help her get out of the tower and see the floating lights in exchange for him getting back a high-value tiara that he stole. Thus the question soon becomes can our intrepid young heroine find it within her to enjoy her freedom and maybe even discover some other things that she’s been lacking in her life or will “mother” Gothel see to it that her happiness is over before it has had a chance to even begin?

Now Tangled may not be the absolute peak in terms to animated filmmaking from the House of Mouse, and the film may feel a bit contrived due to both its narrative as well as its well-conjured up, but still way too familiar ingredients of adventure, passion, and comedy, but ultimately the reason this film is as successful as it is due to the heart of the narrative which talks about one young woman’s urge to not only live her life as she would like to, but also to experience the world as a person rather than a captive in a tower. To that end not only is Rapunzel a terrific character more so for her desire to be free and true to her self rather than a super long mane of hair, but the genuine magic of the character can also be found within the fact that she is a genuinely good person. Indeed she really is an individual of her own crafting despite the fact that she has been in captivity practically her whole life and consisted of satisfying someone else’s desires rather than her own. Yet through her drawing, desires, and friendship with an intriguing chameleon, we see that the character has found a self-worth that few in her situation sadly are able to uncover. Indeed to that end, we see that Rapunzel escaping the tower with Flynn and getting to experience the outside world for the first time isn’t just a representative for her being physically free, but also for her abrupt ability to see things in the world as they really are rather how someone would like for her to see them.

Suffice it to say then that even Tangled actually does make for a pleasant enough stroll into a film that actually has some philosophical subject matter to it, this film is above all supposed to be looked at as a enjoyable little animated adventure movie that is constructed around delightful characters, family-friendly action, that trademark House of Mouse comedy, and an enchanting backdrop that all in all help to make this film a riveting, colorful, and enjoyable film for the kids and an astonishingly enjoyable movie for the adult viewing audience as well. Indeed, despite a pair of quirks that kind of are detrimental to the film, this movie is overall a film that is constructed from the top down remarkably well be it the terrific work in the animation or voice acting departments, or just how genuine what the characters are feeling really may seem. Indeed it is the latter area that is one of the more riveting aspects of this film due to our main heroine caring about both her captor and herself in equal measure. Indeed here is a young woman who is legitimately torn between doing what she wants in life and pleasing her “motherly figure” even though the woman only has her own interests at heart rather than Rapunzel’s. To that end, I am pleased to say that Mandy Moore, as in A Walk to Remember, American Dreamz, or the matriarch on NBC’s This is Us’ Mandy Moore, does a truly magical job at bringing this heroine to life. Indeed Moore manages to find just the right balance between Rapunzel’s desires to be free whilst also being loyal to the woman who kidnapped her. Indeed it is that desire to kind of connect with the outside world while doing so in a way that shows her obedience to someone else that is at the very heart of our heroine’s conflict in this film, and Moore manages to make it work beautifully and gives this character both the heart and soul necessary courtesy of her terrific comprehension of just who this young woman is and what she is really trying to get out of life. Yes the rest of the cast, especially Zachary Levi who is terrific as Flynn, all do wonderful work in this, but it is Mandy Moore’s Rapunzel, more than anyone else, who is at the end of the day the true heart and soul of this film, and Moore is truly amazing in the role. Indeed it is through both her devotion to the character and her truly talented work that we are able to see Rapunzel become yet another iconic addition to Disney’s already chock-full library of characters who are that and so much more

All in all it is safe to say that Tangled truly is what we have come to expect from an animated film by the House of Mouse. Indeed through the usual powers of singing, dancing, a hint of adventure, a dash of humor, a dollop of heart, and concepts involving freedom to be who you want, knowing what you are worth on an individual level, and sigh yes even true love, we are given a truly engaging film that is most certainly deserving of the title of the 50th animated film made by Disney. Yet despite the presence of a few lulls and a few scenes that feel unnecessary, they really aren’t detrimental to the final quality of the product involved thanks to being balanced out courtesy of phenomenal work both in the animation department and the voice acting department with Mandy Moore leading the charge there as the finest cinematic version of Rapunzel to date. If anything, it’s just a shame that it took Disney of all studios this long to actually make a film about Rapunzel, but in all fairness the wait was actually worth it. Thus I think it is safe to say that Tangled is a truly engaging animated film made in that time-honored Disney method that will help ensure it go down as one of the finer Disney animated films of the past 15 years. On a scale of 1-5 I give Tangled a solid 4 out of 5.