Movie Review: Tangled

When one says "Disney", there's a few specific images that come to one's mind. Princesses. Music. Animation. Fairytales.

With Tangled, Disney's 50th Animated Classic, all of the above elements shine in unison. Tangled is indeed, a grand, spectacular return to Disney's classic roots, with plenty of modern twists and sensibilities.

Following a creative and financial slump in the early to mid 2000s, Disney seems to be on a high at present. Recent animated movies from the Mouse House- such as Meet The Robinsons, Bolt, and The Princess and the Frog have been well received and have performed quite well at the box office. But the 2010 release of Tangled exceeded all expectations. The movie garnered critical acclaim (a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes is a rare feat these days) and set the global box office on fire, with a worldwide collection amounting to nearly $600 million- impressive for an original animated film that doesn't have the Pixar name attached to it. Home video and merchandise sales soared, and the heroine Rapunzel became one of Disney's most sought after princesses. In sum, Tangled has become one of Disney's most popular animated films- a kind of popularity that recalls 90s Disney hits Aladdin and The Lion King.

The reason Tangled was such a roaring success is simple- it's a really good film. There's something in this movie that will appeal to everyone of all ages. Girls love Rapunzel, boys love Flynn Rider and Maximus the horse, adults love the old fashioned Disney charm, the music and animation.

For the unacquainted, Tangled tells the story of a princess named Rapunzel. Rapunzel has a secret superpower- 70 feet of magical hair that has the power to heal the sick and injured. When Rapunzel was an infant, she was kidnapped by an old woman named Gothel and locked in a tower. Gothel uses Rapunzel's hair to keep herself young and healthy. For eighteen years, Rapunzel has dreamed of leaving the tower to see the mysterious lights that appear every year on her birthday. When the kingdom's most wanted thief, Flynn Rider, uses Rapunzel's tower as a hideout, the two team up and set out on the adventure of a lifetime.

The CGI animation in Tangled appears to push all limits. The animation is vivid, fluid and incredibly detailed. Characters look lifelike and their facial expressions, movements and hair all intricately constructed. For a sample, watch the "Mother Knows Best" sequence- a perfect example of the heights Disney animation has reached. A breathtaking sequence where thousands of lanterns rise in the sky is the most iconic Disney moment of the decade, also giving us "I See The Light", easily one of the greatest Disney songs of all time. But the star of the movie is easily the hair. Rapunzel's hair glows, shimmers and sparkles like nothing you've ever seen before. Disney really went all out for this movie's look- and the proof of the $250 million budget (one of the most expensive films ever!) is in the pudding.

Voice acting and singing credits go to pop singer Mandy Moore (best known for A Walk To Remember and solo pop projects) as Rapunzel, Zachary Levi (from TV's Chuck) as charmer Flynn Rider and Broadway's Donna Murphy as villainess Mother Gothel. Each of the voice actors also sing for their characters, so there's no double casting. A good thing, because the voice acting in Tangled is really impressive. It's hard to imagine any one else voicing the three leads. Speaking of the characters, they are well rounded and carefully developed. Side characters like Pascal the chameleon and Maximus the horse provide most of the film's laughs.

Music comes from Disney go-to guy and legend, Alan Menken, who teams up with lyricist Glen Slater for the first time. The result is a pleasing bunch of songs, some like When Will My Life Begin rather forgettable, but some becoming instant classics like I See The Light. While the songs are a mixed bag, the overall music of the movie gets a definite thumbs-up. It's a strong return to Disney's "let's burst into song!" roots.

What makes Tangled a winner, though, is the presence of a strong, compelling story filled with twists and turns. Under the guidance of Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, it's evident that Disney's focus is back where it should be: telling great stories. Often dark and serious, the climax of Tangled is brilliantly executed.

All in all, Tangled is not just one of the best Disney movies to come from the studio in the past decade, but of Disney's best animated films, period. It hearkens back to old Disney fairytales, while at the same time, maintaining a very modern facade. And it does so without silly pop culture references or adult humor. It's hilarious, heartfelt, classy and moving, all at the same time. Tangled is indeed, a modern Disney classic, capable of standing beside classics such as The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. As Disney's 50th Animated Classic, it's a perfect celebration of past, present and future.

With the success of Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, the attention shifts to Disney's upcoming Frozen- a musical inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. Will Frozen continue Disney's upward streak? We'll have to wait and see!


More Disney Classics Reviews:  *Frozen
                                                 *Peter Pan
                                                 *The Lion King
                                                 *Wreck-It Ralph

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