We’ve seen Tangled, Disney’s latest attempt to revive the great princess movies of its past. Suffice to say it transported us back to our childhoods via a pumpkin carriage.
My gut reaction afterward was to go home and immediately dust-off the old dress up tiara. Tangled transported me right back to the age of nine. While the latest batch of Pixar films have all moved me to tears, none of them has rekindled my childhood love for castles, adventure-seeking princesses, magic, zany pets and Prince Charming the way Tangled did.
Tangled accomplished this feat by either revisiting or reinventing the classic Disney tropes of the early 90s. Back when princess movies kicked ass. Rapunzel and friends unabashedly break into song, commonly ending with said singing character in the classic “hands pointed towards the heavens” pose, knee deep in a sweeping crescendo finale. Our new princess also has a collection of adorable animal friends, who sometimes outshine their human counterparts without even speaking (yes, the animals don’t speak in this movie). Plus there’s plenty of room for the long forgotten romantic duet, something we haven’t seen since Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” and Beauty and the Beast’s “Something There.”
But that’s not to say that Tangled is stuck in the past. Despite the fairy tale plot, which relies heavily on the magic of this relatively unknown story, Tangled stays current with its humor — thanks to the self-aware sparring between main characters Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) and the local thief of the kingdom Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi). Yes, a thief and a princess we’ve seen it before, but the jokes and the tropes are tight enough that the film seems to find a happy medium between the desperately modernized green ogre CG animations of today, and the more antiquated animations of our past.
The biggest surprise was the main character’s relationship with the exceptionally talented Evil Witch, voiced by Donna Murphy. While I have no doubt you’ll be humming her solos for years to come (her vocal skills practically shamed the rest of the cast), the interesting twist was her relationship with Rapunzel. If you’re familiar with the fairy tale version, Rapunzel is kept prisoner in the tower her entire life by the Witch, so their relationship isn’t as black-and-white as past villains have often been.
Back in March the LA Times reported that Disney decided to change the original name of this film from “Rapunzel” to “Tangled,” in attempts to appealing to more boys. Will it work? Who knows — but if male youngsters enjoyed other classic Disney fare, there’s no reason they shouldn’t get caught up in Tangled as well.