movie film review | chris tookey


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  Tangled Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
6.10 /10
Mandy Moore , Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy
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Directed by: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
Written by: Dan Fogelman. Songs by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. Based on the fairy tale by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Released: 2010
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 92

Far from Grimm but far from grim.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Tangled is Disney’s fiftieth animated feature, and the old story of Rapunzel brought into the 21st century. It looks expensive, and is; only Avatar cost more to make. This is the priciest animated film ever, with a budget of 260 million dollars.

The good news for Disney is that it has already grossed nearly twice that, and looks certain to become one of the three highest-grossing Disney films of all time, along with The Lion King and Aladdin.

Despite her origins in a Grimm fairy tale, there’s nothing Germanic about this princess; voiced by pop diva Mandy Moore, she talks just like a California valley-girl.

Rapunzel is a blonde princess stolen from loving parents by a wicked old woman, Mother Gothel, who uses Rapunzel’s magic hair to maintain her own mature good looks, while keeping the girl locked up in a tower.

Into their world climbs professional thief, womaniser and jack-the-lad Flynn Ryder (Zachari Levi). He helps Rapunzel escape her prison and encounter the challenges and dangers of normal life.

The big fun for adults consists of the twisted mother-daughter relationship, well acted by Moore and Broadway star Donna Murphy.

Another asset is that, despite computer animation, the movie looks lovingly hand-drawn, somewhat indebted to the French artist Fragonard, and the use of 3D results in some striking images, especially the release of 46,000 floating lanterns.

The enjoyable visual gags generally come from the two animal sidekicks: Rapunzel’s friend, a loyal and adaptable chameleon, and Maximus, a palace horse who thinks he’s a bloodhound.

The script follows the template of Disney’s (Peter Bradshaw, Guardian) of successful musical cartoons, which began in 1989 with The Little Mermaid and had a minor revival last year with The Princess and the Frog.

The songs are pleasant, with serviceably witty lyrics. However, they do feel as though they’ve come a little too smoothly off the Alan Menken conveyor-belt – he’s the guy who created the tunes for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. They’re not adventurous nor original enough, and smell a little too much of 90s Broadway.

The tone is mostly cheeky, glib and flippant, which gives it the feel of Shrek and Enchanted, but then it tries to be naive and romantic as well, more in the style of classic Disney. The two styles don’t always mesh. They feel… well, tangled.

It also feels wrong that the early narration is by the rascally Flynn. This feels not so much like a creative judgment as a commercially calculated move to reassure males in the audience that the film won’t be too “girly”.

Flynn’s smart-alecky chat soon gets junked, and the centre of attention shifts – rightly – to the princess and her false mother. But there’s still a canny amount of action and fighting so that boys don’t feel too left out of the main, girl-empowerment narrative. That may be one reason why the film has enjoyed so much commercial success in the States. This is one female-empowerment fantasy that both sexes can enjoy.

In all Disney films, there’s a danger of the corporate mentality smothering the creative spirit, and that’s the case here. Everyone has played a little too safe. That’s probably the reason why Tangled hasn’t been Oscar-nominated as one of the year’s three best animated films, missing out to the far less popular but more critically respectable The IIlusionist.

But even those who think Disney could do better should be grateful that Tangled has been put together with no small skill, professionalism and musicality.

There aren’t many family films out there that are this entertaining and enjoyable. Clever, colourful and cute, it’s worth a visit.

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