By Gary Murray
Starring the voices of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi and Donna Murphy
Written by Dan Fogelman
Directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Running time 100 min
MPAA Rating PG
Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE
Disney is my favorite movie studio. Since the day I was born, it seems that they have been a part of my life. I remember how 'in love' I was with my first Disney experience, The Jungle Book. It is my first memory. Over the years, the company has been putting out quality action and animated films for the enjoyment of children of all ages. Some have worked better than others, but the studio still has more success than their rivals. Their latest and one of the greatest is the newest adventure with the newest princess Rapunzel–Tangled.
Tangled starts with the 'once upon a time' feeling and the back story. The queen who is with child has become sick and in order to save her majesty, a magical golden flower must be found. The only person who knows where it is located is Gothel (Donna Murphy). She uses the plant as an eternal youth potion. The locals finally find the plant, saving the queen and the child. The magic of the plant is transferred into the infant princess. Gothel steals the child away, hiding her in a tall tower in the forest.
It is eighteen years later and the young Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) has been kept in the tower her entire life. She yearns to see the outside world, a world she is told to contain infinite dangers. Mother Gothel uses Rapunzel's magical long hair to keep her youth and beauty. Every year on her birthday, Rapunzel watches mysterious lanterns light up the night sky. She wants to know what they are and why the only happen on her birthday. Somehow she feels a connection to the lights.
On the other side of the forest Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) is escaping with his henchmen. This charming rogue bandit has recently stolen the crown of the young lost princess. As he makes his escape, he's followed by a very intelligent horse with a bloodhound nose. This horse steals just about every moment he is featured.
Soon, Flynn discovers the tower and ascends. Almost instantly he is captured by Rapunzel, wielding a cast iron skillet. When he finally awakes, Flynn finds that he is bound by seventy feet of hair. He tries every trick in the book to get Rapunzel to let him go and give him back the crown he has stolen. They make a deal, If he will escort her to where the lights come from and bring her back before Gothel gets back from a two day errand, she will give him back the crown. Before one can say go, we're on a road trip.
The first big adventure happens when they go to a pub and Rapunzel interacts with a band of cutthroats, winning them over with dance and song. She uses her hair in Indiana Jones fashion, more of a bull whip and balancing rope than tresses. The locks save them from danger after danger.
While Flynn is running from both the palace guards and his back-stabbing cohorts, Gothel has come back early and makes her own plans to recapture Rapunzel before she finds out the truth of her life.
There are not enough superlatives to describe Tangled. Simply put, it is one of the best movies of the year and an instant classic. Directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard have given the audience a film for the ages, something that will be treasured for generations to come. There hasn't been a princess movie this strong since Beauty and the Beast. It has every element one would want from the classic Grimm tale but with modern twists and spins. This fleshed out version of the children's story doesn't feel overblown and padded. It flows from action to comedy with a seamless pace.
The voice casting is spot on with Mandy Moore catching all the innocence needed and Donna Murphy capturing all the villainy. Even the smaller parts of the pub thugs are all a perfect blend of bile and brightness. Disney has always been good at matching the voices and characters and here it is perfect.
The technical aspects of the film are a giant step up and onward in the field of animation. Every strand of Rapunzel's hair moves both on its own and with others, much like ocean waves. The details of the backgrounds are along the painted quality of something seen in the National Gallery in London.
The film is presented in 3-D and it looks wonderful, full and rich, with details filling the screen. With more and more films coming out in 3-D, one can get a sense of what works and what doesn't. Animated 3-D is head and shoulders above live-action presentations. Where the elements of the technology in animation are controlled, the effect can be used to a maxim degree. When they are forced upon the print, like The Last Airbender and Clash of the Titans the effect becomes more of a lame trick. The only live action 3-D effect that worked last year was in Piranha 3-D.
The creators have given us a vision that captures the spirit of hope and the wonder that is animation. The lighting ceremony in close-up is one of the most moving cinema experiences ever put on the Silver Screen–an instant classic moment.
One can see where this film could be adapted into a Broadway musical. It has all the elements of high drama and low comedy with so many 'tap your toes' tunes. With all the choices for Thanksgiving viewing, make Tangled the first film on the list. It is a can't miss winner.