Film Review: Tangled

Utterly charming, visually sumptuous and often witty, this new 3D musical rendition of the old fairy tale about Rapunzel and her endless mane of flaxen hair will delight youngsters while holding the attention of the more hair-challenged among audiences.

Tangled comes with plenty of pedigree: It is Walt Disney Pictures’ 50th full-length animated feature and also boasts some seasoned big Disney guns on the creative side, including composer Alan Menken and multi-Oscar-winning John Lasseter as executive producer. No surprise, then, that this retelling of the classic tale of Rapunzel is another top-quality entry in the Disney canon and those proverbial kids of all ages will have a good time.

Respecting its venerable origin and setting, the Disney team only mildly tweaks the original tale. Thus we have lovely teen heroine Rapunzel (the voice of Mandy Moore) imprisoned by cruel “mother” Gothel (Broadway’s Tony-winning Donna Murphy) in a tall stone tower in order to protect the girl’s magic mane that protects the evil Disney she-dragon from aging.

Of course, the teen, like so many of her generation, longs for liberation into the adult world, an urge that gives rise to one of the film’s many catchy songs. Her adventures in the real world of romance and discovery of who’s really who begin when the dashing bandit Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), freelancing with his beefy honchos, the Stabbington Brothers, executes a robbery that gains them a valuable satchel of loot. But Flynn does a double cross and escapes with the booty, landing in Rapunzel’s tower room, where he’s soon held captive by the girl and her all-powerful mane of hair.

Rapunzel seizes the moment. She schemes with Flynn for their escape together from the tower where she has been held for years. But once on terra firma, the real trouble begins. Gothel, who discovers Rapunzel gone but the satchel hidden, is desperate to regain control of the girl. Promising the satchel, she schemes with the Stabbington Brothers to bring the pair back.

Others either abetting but mostly hindering Rapunzel’s great escape include some tavern thugs who, hilariously, turn out to be not so thuggish; the royal guard led by the big-chested Captain; and the King and Queen, still grieving for their “lost” daughter.

Clearly in Rapunzel’s corner, but not voiced, are several Disney animation staples, those adorable and prickly animals. There’s Rapunzel’s cute-as-can-be, loyal chameleon Pascal (a Jiminy Cricket variation) and Maximus, the Captain of the Guard’s ornery horse, given to mischief and impressive leaps and determined to catch Flynn.

Rapunzel, expertly wielding her multi-purpose 70-foot mane, and Flynn (along with audiences) have the good fortune to “tangle” for liberation, justice, wealth, power, truth and the de rigueur happiness in a glorious, merrie olde kingdom of yore and to the beat of an appealing original score.

With its eye-pleasing 3D-enhanced visuals and rich backdrop, array of colorful characters, a plot that speeds along as determinedly as the horse Maximus, smart dialogue and lyrics, Tangled is perfect holiday entertainment, for families especially who will laugh and maybe even cry together. And, oh that golden mane of hair, mightily manipulated by Disney’s animation and special-effects geniuses!