Tangled

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Flat-out fantastic.  In summary, that’s my review of Disney’s 50th Animated filmTangled”.  Everyone should be well aware of my fine appreciation of Disney by now, but I am usually speaking of Pixar’s films.  After my recent honeymoon to Disney World this summer, my appreciation of “Beauty & the Beast” was rekindled.  (Thank you Amazon for helping a fan pay a reasonable price for a fine DVD!)  I suppose it was that which made me pay closer attention to this film.  Or maybe it was Zachary Levi?  Zach is after all a major star in my household for my family is addicted to the smash NBC TV hit “Chuck”.  He is awesome!

Or maybe it was my step-daughter?  She has never been so animated to see a film before!  It’s a passion that I LOVE to see.  (Aaah, there is nothing finer than to get completely psyched for a film.  The adrenaline!  The rush!  ….I digress.)  Yes, I am pretty sure that she is to thank for knowing anything at all about “Tangled”.  I knew when it was coming out.  I knew that it was Disney’s 50th animated film.  I knew who was in it.  I knew a couple of songs from it.  I knew ALL about “Tangled”.

This one is for you “lady”. 😉

Tangled” is the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel and her magical hair.  It’s a great story to begin with.  The princess is locked away in tower by this greedy hag that uses her magical hair (which has the power to restore youth and heal…and it glows) to stay youthful.  She was abducted as an infant by said greedy hag.  Automatically, you despise this villain for her selfish nature and her callous attitude to anyone but herself.  She is a GREAT Disney villain.  She measures up well with the likes of the Witch in “Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs”.  Rapunzel grows up wanting to see the outside world and specifically the lights which fill the nighttime sky every year on her birthday.  Little does she realize, these lights are lanterns released by her parents who honor their missing child every year in this manner.  You get the impression that mom & dad (who are King & Queen) are really nice folk – it must be how they are animated.

Okay, so here’s where the story gets a HUGE wrench thrown in it.  A dashing rogue named Flinn Rider has partnered with 2 thugs (the Stabbington Brothers!) and has stolen the crown of the missing princess.  A chase ensues.  Flynn escapes the guards, but his nasty cohorts are captured.  However, 1 guard doesn’t give up the chase for Flynn.  That guard is Maximus…who is a horse.  Flynn attempts to hide from this horse, who behaves like a bloodhound.  In his attempt, Flynn discovers a secret passageway that leads to a lone tower with no visible door.  Flynn decides to climb the tower to gain access to the solitary window and hide within.  Here is where Flynn meets Rapunzel…and her frying pan!

For the rest of the story, you will have to go watch the movie.  Yep, that’s right.  I am recommending that you go see “Tangled” now.  Looking for some family fun?  Go see this movie.  Want a great film filled with humor that will crack up both the young and the old?  Go see this movie. If you were searching for just a feel-good flick, then go see this movie!  Seriously, it is THAT good!  Disney knocked one right out of the park with this one.  I didn’t see “the Princess and the Frog” because it just didn’t seem that interesting.  Trust me when I say that “Tangled” is VERY interesting!

The real joy of this animated bit of awesomeness is that it changed up what could have been a real ho-hum of a story.  Blah-blah-blah…hero rescues princess….blah-blah-blah…they fall in love….blah-blah-blah…they defeat evil hag and live happily ever after.  It wasn’t so much that Flynn & Rapunzel were more modern as it was that the story itself felt much more connected to this day and age.  Rapunzel is resourceful.  Flynn matures before you on the screen.  The hag showcases her ugliness in what she does and not how she looks.

Mandy Moore was perfect as Rapunzel.  She was a little spunky, a little sweet.  Mostly though, she had the right voice for the look of Rapunzel.  Disney has the right touch when it comes to putting actors voices into the right animated bodies; that’s what I know.  On that note, how about Zach Levi as Flynn?  I knew he could act and that he was a pretty funny guy, but he sings too!  (On a completely unrelated note, Zach and I share the same birthday and we both love the Chicago Bears.)  Pretty darned well, I might add.  Kudos to Donna Murphy as Mother Gothel (the evil Hag) as she chews up whole scenes with her musical numbers.  A fantastic character!  All of the actors were superb, and the supporting cast is a plethora of talented and famous actors.  That list includes Ron Perlman, Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett, and the awesome Richard Kiel!

When you get right down to it, it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that “Tangled” is an uber-success for Disney.  You’ve got Alan Menken doing the music for the film!  You remember that name don’t you?  He’s the talent behind a lot of other incredible Disney tunes from other incredible Disney pictures.  You may have heard of them: “Enchanted”, “Pocahontas”, “Aladdin”, “the Little Mermaid” – oh AND “Beauty & the Beast”!  Menken combines the music right into the story, which sounds a lot easier than it probably is.  In “Tangled”, Menken has blessed us once more with pure Disney magic.  This man does for Disney what John Williams does for Spielberg and Lucas.  What an absolute talent!

And now, I finally speak to the artwork of this film.  Computer animation is nice, but this is something completely new: CGI that looks and feels like a painting.  As an artist myself, I can say that the Disney animators are LEGENDARY talents.  “Beauty & the Beast” featured the 1st ever animated 360 degree pan and it was jaw-dropping.  I still look at that scene and I shake my head – just look at their shadows!!  “Tangled” is exceptional in the art department (every pun intended there).  The animation of the characters felt fresh and lively.  It was like going to see an old friend’s most recent art show, when you haven’t seen their work in a couple of years.  It had gorgeous colors and a luminous quality to the exact right parts.  Not too surprising when one of the animators said the film’s visual style was inspired by a famous Rococo painting called “the Swing”.  How cool is that?!  The same animator said the process used to make the film gave it a very “painterly” feel.  Glen & Kyle, it worked beautifully.  Without question, this film features the best artwork from Disney’s animators that I have seen since “Tarzan”.

I could not write this review without talking about 2 characters in the film that really gave me a belly laugh: Maximus and Pascal.  Maximus is the bloodhound of a guard’s horse and Pascal is Rapunzel’s only friend, an understated chameleon.  I could not stop laughing at Maximus the horse!  Every time that horse behaved like a dog, I chuckled.  It was reminiscent of my childhood when I laughed at Robin Hood the fox as he outsmarted Sir Hiss and the cowardly Prince John.  For characters to not have a single line in the film and have this much effect is amazing!  BRAVO!

And so, I end this glowing review by simply stating the obvious: “Tangled” is worth the price of admission.

…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.

 

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