Posted on March 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Disney has taken a 200-year-old story from the Brothers Grimm and made it just modern enough, sassy without being snarky, fresh and contemporary without any po-mo air quotes. It’s the classic fairy tale of the girl with the long, long hair who is locked in the tower by an evil witch.

A potion made from a special flower that could heal all injuries and bestow eternal youth given to the queen while she was in childbirth somehow transmuted it special powers to the baby’s hair. Mother Gothel (deliciously dastardly diva Donna Murphy) kidnaps Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) from the castle so that she can be young forever. She raises the baby as her own daughter, telling her that she must never leave the tower because the world is a very dangerous place for a vulnerable young woman with an extraordinary gift.

Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi of television’s “Chuck”) is a dashing adventurer and a thief. There are wanted posters with (somewhat inaccurate) drawings of his face. On the run from the palace guards, he comes across the tower and thinks it looks like a great place to hide out. Rapunzel has been kept away from the world, but the world finally comes to her.

She persuades her “mother” to go on a trip and forces Flynn to agree to take her out for one day. Every year, on her birthday, she sees mysterious floating lights.  She wants, just once, to leave the tower to find out what they are.  

They stop in a pub filled with scary villains and in a musical number reminiscent of “High School Musical’s” “Stick to the Status Quo,” the thugs launch into an hilarious song about their dreams that is one of the movie’s best moments. But Flynn’s hulking former cronies, the palace guards and their super-tracker horse, and Mother Gothel are all after them, so Rapunzel’s hair will need to be part slingshot, part bungee cord, part Tarzan’s swinging vine, and part flashlight to keep them on the way to the lanterns. Even though they are often in danger, Rapunzel learns that the world is not as terrifying as she was told. And Flynn learns that the world is not as bleak as his experience had taught him.

There are adventures and exchanges of confidences, and more encounters with the thieves, the guards, the horse (one of the movie’s wittiest additions to the story), and the witch on the way to an exquisitely beautiful release of the lanterns, one of the loveliest moments on screen all year and well worth the 3D glasses. Tuneful numbers from Alan Menken (“Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast”) with witty lyrics from Glenn Slater sound more like show tunes than boomer-friendly pop, especially when delivered by Broadway star Murphy. The classic gloss they give the story nicely frames more modern touches like the computer-enhanced animation and spunky heroine. Disney has given us another princess worthy of its canon.

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3D Animation Based on a book For the Whole Family Musical

8 Replies to “Tangled”

  1. Just got back with my family from watching the movie. We all enjoyed it. Even my 10 year old. It’s been a while that a cartoon movie had the characters actually singing. I liked that touch. The story line was very good. The only thing that caught my husband and I off guard, was the stabbing of one of the characters. But besides that it was very entertaining and funny.

  2. Nell, my kids are now 17, almost 16 and 13.5 now. We went and saw this movie this morning and my 17 year old daughter, Skye, who never fell out of love with Disney Princesses was laughing and bawling. The problem was, so was I. I can’t recommend this movie highly enough and was surprised you didn’t give it an “A”. The animation was spectacular (and we didn’t see it in 3D, now I want to go back). I was totally impressed with the script and how it kept adults entertained through out. The oddest thing (to me) is before the movie started there was alot of crying babies and talking little ones. Once it started, those kids were evidently transfixed, because the theatre was mostly quiet, except for the laughing (and bawling)! Amazing! And my two sons who one would think were “too old” for this movie, absolutely loved it and want to go see it again. The horse, Max, was my favorite character!! What they can do with animation these days is unbelieveable!! Anyway, we all loved it and I just can’t say enough good things! Go see it!

  3. Just saw this with my pre-school age daughter. We both loved it. Thanks so much Nell for recommending it (in the Megamind discussion I think).
    It was such a fun movie with a great plot, great animation, and great characters. I didn’t see it in 3D- would have liked to have seen the floating lanterns that way.
    I also loved the horse! And the chameleon was fun too.
    One of my favorite scenes was the dancing scene when Rapunzel finally gets to the town. I thought my daughter was going to start dancing in the aisles…

  4. You captured the film’s strengths so economically and vividly! We found the pacing much better than other recent Disney films and the psychological dimensions of the mother-daughter relationship intringuing enough for prolonged conversation between teen daughter and mother. In our audience, very young children were totally engaged, too.

  5. K~ so I trust that I can ask you Movie Mom…
    How is the “bad boy” hero really portrayed?
    We were REALLY looking forward to seeing Rapunzel & I get they had to change the name so boys would come, but I don’t want to give the whole bad is cool/good message to my girls. (7, 5, and 3)
    If it’s like Aladdin (more of a rags to riches theme), then that was OK, since it was just the beginning scene of him stealing as a street orphan, but from the trailers..it might be more overt than that like showing “ya, go ahead fall in love w/the bad boy, it’s fun or he’ll change” ….I don’t know, that’s why I wanted to ask you what “romantic message(s)” it sends to young girls. THX!

  6. I love this question, GlasFam4Ever! And “Aladdin” is a good comparison. SPOILER ALERT: the hero is more rogue than bad guy. We find out that he was an orphan with no one to teach him what was right. He thought that money would make him happy so he stole something. But he learns that other things are more important. After that initial theft and some dishonor among thieves and escape attempts, he is honest and loyal. Not a “bad is cool” message at all. If you see it, let me know what you think.

  7. As mother of 4 and grandmother of 9, I’ve relied on Movie Mom for lots of common sense advice for years, but I have to say I was disappointed that there was no mention or warning regarding the scene where the girl is encouraged to hurt/disobey/rebel against her mother (even praised as a normal part of growing up), without balancing it (at that point) with the fact that she had been kidnapped/held prisoner. At least this should be a family discussion topic for sensitive, impressionable youngsters, since kids pick up on things like that.

  8. Thanks, Grandmother, a very good point. I felt that the movie addressed this issue very effectively by portraying in a candid but humorous fashion the girl’s conflicts as she struggled with her conscience about the decision. I do think that learning to think independently is a part of growing up and is not necessarily rebellion.

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