Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Who are you, and how did you find me? " "I know not who you are, nor how I came to find you, but may I just say... Hi. How you doin'? "

 Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

You know what never gets old? The look on people's faces when I say I love the Disney Princess movies. It's a confused look mixed with a hint of concern. If you don't know me it's usually followed up with either "Are you gay" or "Were you forced to watch them" but those who do know me well enough are like "Okay." But it's funny whenever I pop that little trivia out because it seems if your a guy (at least in this day and age) you can't like the Princess movies without garnering some attention.

Why does that little factoid matter? Well it's the look I got from the guy at the box office when I got my tickets to Disney's latest animated film Tangled. Created by Disney legends Glen Keane, John Lasseter, and Byron Howard, Tangled is the re-imagining of the classic tale of Rapunzel and follows the Grimm version closer then any other version I've read. It stars Mandy Moore as the titular character, Zachary Levi as the dashing Flynn Rider and Donna Murphy as the evil Mother Gothel. One interesting note, besides this being Disney Animation Studios 50th film, is that this is the first CGI Disney Princess film. Maybe ol Lasseter is rubbing off on them.
 The plot is familiar to those who have read the tale but it does put it's own unique spin on things. A single drop of sunlight creates a magical healing flower that can make someone young forever if you sing a special song. Mother Gothel, an evil old hag, finds it and hides it from everyone. Meanwhile at the castle, the Queen about to have her baby but gets really sick. The only cure it seems is the flower and in a moment of clumsiness, Gothel knocks the cage hiding the flower over and the guards take the flower. The Queen gives birth to a girl, whose hair now has the powers of the flower. Soon after she is born Gothel steals her and uses her hair as a lifetime supply of youth, which the girl seems to not notice since Gothel puts on the ruse of being the girl's mother.

There is one hitch in Gothel's plan though: the kingdom releases lanterns into the sky and this fascinates Rapunzel to no end, so much so she's made it her mission in life to see them up close. Flashforward 18 or so years and Rapunzel is grown up and wants to leave. Gothel is against this obviously but with the help of a thief named Flynn Rider, who happens upon her tower after stealing a tiara, Rapunzel leaves and ventures with Flynn, who agrees to help on the basis that he gets said tiara back.
 The story and writing is probably one of the movies biggest triumphs. The story is something we've all heard to the point of punchline but it feels fresh and original enough that we never really get bored with the story. For one Rapunzel is no pushover. She is a spunky little thing who can use her hair as a multi-tool and really likes getting her way (to a point...I mean she's not rude about it). The character of Flynn is also a real character and not a caricature of a prince or hero type we've seen before. He's not that strong but what he lacks in strength he makes up for in charm, wit and street smarts. Imagine a animated Nathan Drake of sorts for those who know what I'm talking about. The only static characters it seems are the Royal Family (who never speak oddly) and Gothel. Although with her it's understandable since without an established villain, it wouldn't be a Disney Princess movie.

The writing is really brought out well thanks to the superb voice-work throughout. Mandy Moore is great as Rapunzel, mixing elements of classic Princesses as well as the modern teenage girl. She has the big singing voice and bright eyed perkiness we're used to, but it's grounded by her wit, wild mood swings (one of the biggest laughs for me) and her sass. She's also not pining over a man either with her eventual (come on did you really think otherwise) relationship actually feeling organic. Levi is great as well and further proves that he is someone to really look out for in the future, whether voice-work in this film or on television with Chuck. He has great comedic timing and charm but also a sensitivity that some comedic actors don't have. Murphy is good as well but she does feel a bit like all other Disney villains...well maybe a little more neurotic but still familiar.

The one problem I had with this movie was the music. I love musicals and some of the music was decent (the two highlights being a hilarious song in a dive bar and the obvious love song between the two) but for the most part it was meh. It's not that they sounded bad or were overly cheesy, but they just lacked that umph that other Disney musicals have. Best example: Gothel. Her re-occurring villain song is "Mother Knows Best" an I-can't-keep-a-consistent-time song that's mostly talk sing and honestly pretty dull. It overstays its welcome and puts a damper on the scene that led up to it. The rest aren't as bad but feel cookie cutter. It wasn't enough to make me hate the movie but enough to keep it from being a Disney classic.

Tangled is a well made, well written, well acted Disney Princess film and shows that Disney Animation Studios still has some life in them. It's not the best Disney Animated Studios film (not helped by meh music) but it's a great family film and definitely worth checking out.


PS: I watched it in 2D but I've heard the 3D was good.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Travis, know I haven't commented here in a while so I'm sorry about that. I like what you've done with the place (though I would warn you to watch your picture resizing).

    Nice review, and thanks for the company. I think we agree on a lot of parts about this one, though I'm a bit more lukewarm on it. I thought it made for a good couple of hours but I wouldn't rush to watch it again.