Review: Tangled

Written by Jim Dalrymple on . Posted in Film

Beautiful Rapunzel sings, paints, and dances. She bakes and she cleans. But more than anything else, she dreams of leaving the tower where Gothel, her alleged mother, keeps her, supposedly for her own protection.Though the premise is familiar, Disney’s Tangled manages to braid a surprisingly entertaining — if very straightforward — film out of the German fairly tale Rapunzel. The film begins centuries in the past, when Gothel, an old woman, discovers a flower that keeps her young. All she has to do is sing to it. Unfortunately for Gothel, however, one day a benevolent and pregnant queen gets sick and her soldiers cart the plant off to use for medicinal purposes.

The queen gets better and the child she was carrying is born with striking blond hair — which, it turns out, possesses all the same healing properties as the erstwhile flower. Gothel doesn’t like that much, though, and kidnaps the baby princess to raise as her own.

What ensues is about what you’d expect. Rapunzel grows up over the space of a dissolve and musical transition into a doe-eyed beauty, who naturally wants to get out and see the world. Eventually, the roguish Flynn Rider enters her life and you can imagine what happens in a Disney movie when two attractive young people reluctantly embark on a journey together.

While Tangled might not get many points for originality, it is consistently entertaining. Rapunzel’s world is a rich, somewhat Bavarian-looking place — and between her hair, a bunch of floating lanterns, and an exciting chase scene through a collapsing dam, there are plenty of visually striking moments. And while Rapunzel is still a blond princess, Flynn Rider is cut from the Aladdin mold as a world-wise street rat.

That set-up opens the doors for some pleasant surprises. When Rapunzel and Rider visit a bar called the Snuggly Duckling, for example, they eventually end up singing. What is surprising about the scene, however, is that the song they perform is more campy and showtune-ish than the orchestral-pop endemic to Disney fair. The moment is charming and highlights how well Disney is filling the niche between Pixar’s masterpieces and DreamWorks’ typical garbage (How to Train Your Dragon excepted).

Ultimately, it might have been nice to see Tangled straighten out a few more kinks — especially between Rapunzel and Gothel, who after all lived together as mother and daughter for 18 years — but it still includes enough twists to warrant a watch. It’s a by-the-numbers crowd-pleaser that will delight children and make for a worthy date movie among the PG-rated crowd when it hits dollar theaters. So while the film might not ensnare viewers for generations, it’s not a bad way to tangle up a lazy afternoon.


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