Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DVD Review: TANGLED (Disney, 2010)

It took me a while to catch up with Disney's 50th animated feature, but the wait was worth it, for the most part. Tangled, Disney's take on the tale of Rapunzel, was in preparation for a time as "long, long" as Rapunzel's golden tresses and wound up costing the studio over $250 million, but I would argue that the delay was the best thing that could have happened to the finished product. Its somewhat irreverent tone and mix of thematic elements owe a considerable debt to Shrek, but, by virtue of the fact that the film was in production for so long, the creators had ample time to winnow out the gross excesses and sillier anachronisms that plagued the later installments of the Shrek franchise. The finished product is fresh and contemporary, yet still recognizably "Disney" in its overall attitude and sense of "Heart."

I can't really call Tangled an innovative movie; those keeping score of the standard Disney-feature cliches will wind up filling in all the blanks on their paper. ("Forest rat" hero Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) at least relieves us of worries over one of the most prominent expectations by spilling the beans before the plot even gets started.) It's hard to tell exactly when or where the action is taking place; the kingdom of spirited-away princess Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is reassuringly medieval, but the palace guards wear Roman helmets and gear, the king and queen hoist vaguely Chinese floating lanterns as part of a ceremony commemorating their daughter's disappearance, and the local grog shop, the Snuggly Duckling, is filled with barbarians, Vikings, grand pianos, and humanoids who defy classification (the little guy with the beard and the bad teeth rather creeped me out). This "throw it all at the wall" approach works primarily because overt anachronisms are kept to a minimum. The dedicated horse Maximus -- part bloodhound, part posse, part Lassie, and all ham -- winds up outperforming all of the human characters, and without speaking a word of dialogue. (Think Prince Phillip's horse from Sleeping Beauty, only about 10 times more so.) The songs are pleasant but generally unmemorable.

Tangled is not a front-rank classic but will, I think, be fondly remembered in the coming years. And if Rapunzel is not initiated into the Legion of Disney Princesses in due course, well, I have a frying pan and I'm not afraid to use it...


Mark Lungo said...

" And if Rapunzel is not initiated into the Legion of Disney Princesses in due course, well, I have a frying pan and I'm not afraid to use it..."

Good news!: http://preschoolers.about.com/b/2011/06/15/tangleds-rapunzel-to-be-named-an-official-disney-princess.htm

Chris Barat said...


I wonder what "vetting process" a prospective Princess needs to go through? Was Princess Calla's application lost in the mail? Someone should investigate.


Faster, Harder, More Challenging GeoX said...

Perhaps even more worrying is the question of how the heck Mulan got in there, in spite of not being any sort of princess, either by birth or marriage. I suspect a conspiracy!