Some things are really only possible in a Disney film. If I jumped off a 100 ft. cliff the result would be less than delightful, whether I landed on grassy knoll or not. And if I frolicked through the woods with hair so long it doubles as a lasso, I would spend the rest of the week picking out twigs, mud, and confused insects. Tangled, like most Disney Princess movies, says to hell with reality and smoothes over the impossibility of these scenarios with enchanting sing-alongs. Disney has truly revived the Princess genre with Tangled, and supports its comeback with crisp animation and charming characters.
Tangled is based on the story of Rapunzel, but twisted in the most Disney-esque fashion. Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) is the daughter of the King and Queen, and is blessed with literally sun-kissed golden locks. Her hair has the magical ability to reverse age and heal injuries, but only so long as it’s attached to her head. Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) kidnaps baby Rapunzel so that she may horde the anti-ageing magic. Gothel locks the Princess in a tower and raises her to fear the outside world. 18 years later, Rapunzel the total shut-in dreams of leaving her tower, despite her “Mother’s” warnings. Her chance comes when the thief, Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), wanders into her tower with a satchel of stolen goods. Rapunzel takes his treasure, hides it, and uses it as leverage to make a deal with Flynn: his satchel in exchange for a one-day guided tour of the kingdom.
The handsome thief and the innocent girl are like Hiccup and Toothless, Batman and Robin, Pinky and the Brain: basic platonic friends. Pssshhht, because that would sell to a young female audience. No, the Princess needs her Prince, and Flynn Rider – the witty go-getter whose ultimate weapon is a smouldering stare – is the perfect catch for a girl whose number one time commitment is brushing her hair. That said, Rapunzel saves Flynn’s neck more times than he saves hers, which is a nice step up from Snow White’s legacy. The ending (without giving away too much) is ambiguous as to who saves whom. But it does have a very Beauty and the Beast kind of feel – minus the Stockholm syndrome.
The animation is also delightful. To make that much hair (especially blonde hair with multiple highlights) must have been a “you’re kidding me” moment for the animation team tasked with the job. Rapunzel’s hair is at first a little gross, trailing across the ground for metres and metres, but once you understand how useful it is, as a zip line, whip, or harness, the concept of that tangled mass becomes easier to understand. I keep reminding myself that her hair is magical, and it is only for this reason that it survives the night without a knot, that it dries in minutes, and that it seems to consciously steer clear of open flames.
As an older viewer, I enjoyed it. I thought it was cute, climactic, funny, and well-directed. With the leading role split evenly between Rapunzel and strapping Flynn, I can easily see why male viewers are entertained by it as well. Is Tangled the reason fewer girls are sporting the low-maintenance mushroom cut? I doubt it. But it certainly supports the possibility of kitchenware as deadly weaponry. Tangled is a light, fun, family feature and fits well in the score of 8/10.
Here be the trailer.