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Tangled Review

By Beth McCabe

'Lock'ed Up


Rapunzel has never been my favorite of the fairy tales. A jealous enchantress traps a lovely young girl in a tower so tall, her hair must serve as a ladder. Like many of the Brothers Grimm stories, it's not terribly happy. In fact, it's pretty dark. To say that "Tangled," on the other hand, is not so dark is a gross understatement. That's right. Voiced by the perky Mandy Moore, Rapunzel has been Disneyfied.

Full-on Disneyfied, in fact. Writer Dan Fogelman and directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard - none of them strangers to Disney - have taken our long-locked heroine and given her the "Princess" treatment, placing her among the likes of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. The good news is: someone at the studio has been listening to criticism that these latter day princesses are somewhat dated role models. While the ladies of yore waited for their handsome princes to sweep in and rescue them, this princess is doing no such thing. She's saving herself.

Just shy of eighteen, Rapunzel is sheltered - which is to say she's never left her tower. Magic hair is just the thing to keep you young, you see, something that is not lost on Mother Gothel (the incredibly talented Donna Murphy), who has taken great pains to ensure her bubbly daughter stays put - pains which include directly undermining her self-esteem and making her terrified of the outside world. It's understandable, then, that our heroine is utterly freaked when Flynn Ryder (voiced by "Chuck"'s Zachary Levi) sneaks into her tower and her life, but between a cast iron frying pan, her ridiculous hair, charm and her trusty sidekick chameleon Pascal (huh?), she soon learns she's not as helpless as she thought. In fact, she sort of puts Flynn to shame. After a rocky start, Rapunzel makes Flynn promise to take her away from her tower and to the palace while her mother is away. And off they go. Road trip!

There are many obstacles between the tower's hidden glen and their destination, but Rapunzel has no problems dispatching any of them. She seems to have a knack, in fact, for turning foes into allies, most notably the show-stealing equine Maximus, who is hot on her companion's trail. Unfortunately, the effort to empower Rapunzel has taken some of the drama out of the story. The sense of danger never really comes across and Flynn is all but an accessory to her girl power. Still, it beats sitting around waiting to be rescued any day. Especially with all of that lovely 3D landscape to be traipsed around - the visuals really are stunning.

The movie's score is by Disney veteran Alan Menken, and it's a mix of catchy show tunes and intriguing minor melodics. Sondheim fans will find the interactions between mother and daughter particularly reminiscent of "Into the Woods." While Mandy Moore carries the show vocally (and rightfully so, the story is about her character), neither Mr Levi nor Ms Murphy disappoint. In fact, they do an admirable job. Ron Perlman, Jeffrey Tambor and Brad Garrett round out the star-studded supporting cast: a lovable group of misfit thugs who (along with good old Maximus) make sure there's levity to spare.

Things have changed since the thirties. No longer is the woman the victim! No longer are we dependent on men to save us! That we are now teaching our daughters these things is not so much admirable as a requisite. "Tangled" may be a little self-conscious in bringing this message across, but so be it. The end result is so fun, it's hard to fault it for much.

What did you think?

Movie title Tangled
Release year 2010
MPAA Rating PG
Our rating
Summary Rapunzel meets Disney in this bubbly, girl-powered version of the classic fairy tale.
View all articles by Beth McCabe
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