Twitter Plot Summary: Rapunzel has been stuck in her tower for 18 years, and takes the opportunity to get out when she meets Flynn Rider.
Five Point Summary:
1. 18 years in a tower? Selfish old hag.
2. Flynn Rider and his ever-changing nose.
3. Maximus, super horse!
4. Lanterns. Gorgeous.
5. All ends well.
Disney’s 50th animated classic saw the company adapt the Rapunzel fairy tale and give it the traditional Disney spin, with the usual array of songs, anthropomorphic animals and a scary witch. After the moderate success of Princess and the Frog, which returned to a more traditional style of animation, Tangled utilises the now standard computer animated style (for the most part – there’s some traditional stuff hidden away in there) which is invariably cheaper and now expected by audiences. This is fine when done well, and the mixture of styles and painted appearance makes Tangled stand out in this respect.
Anyway, as the story goes, Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) was kidnapped as a baby by the evil witch Gothel (Donna Murphy), who is obsessed with a special plant that can grant everlasting youth. When the plant is used to save Rapunzel’s mother during childbirth, its power is transferred into Rapunzel and, provided she never cuts her hair, by singing a particular song she can restore youth and heal injuries. As she approaches her 18th birthday we also meet Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), a good-looking rogue and scoundrel whose main concern is that they never seem to get his nose right on the “Wanted” posters his visage appears on.
Tangled has its fair share of stunning imagery, the lantern sequence in particular is one that will linger in the memory, but in other areas such as the small enclosed valley in which Rapunzel’s tower is located the artwork is sublime and equally as beautiful, but in a more understated manner.
Much of the humour stems from the love-hate relationship between Flynn Rider and Maximus, a horse. Maximus has all the personality of a dog but in the body of a horse, and could easily be considered the most fun and enjoyable character of the entire film. In a near second place is the old bearded viking chap who is rocking the Cupid look. More of Maximus would certainly go down a treat, although perhaps using him too much may result in the law of diminishing returns coming into play.
Rapunzel herself is a joy, simultaneously conflicted about going against her mother’s wishes yet desperate to get out into the world and start living her life outside of the tower. She’s precisely the sort of modern Disney princess that is needed, both loveable yet a fully rounded character at the same time. She doesn’t need saving by the male characters – indeed, Flynn Rider is most definitely secondary to her – and despite her concerns about her mother’s reaction to her going outside knows precisely what she wants from her life. The fact she also turns out to be a princess is the icing on the cake.
The songs too are incredibly catchy, mixing up folk rock sounds with a medieval style, yet retaining a modern feel. Songs such as When Will My Life Begin, Mother Knows Best and I’ve Got A Dream are worthy tracks even when listened to outside of the film. I See The Light is the ballad of the piece, along similar lines to Aladdin’s A Whole New World, Beauty and the Beast’s Tale As Old As Time and The Lion King’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight, and is beautifully matched by the the aforementioned lantern sequence.
The formula established by Tangled would be later used to similar and much more financially successful effect by Disney in 2013’s Frozen, but that shouldn’t detract from how enjoyable and delightful Tangled turned out to be. It stands up to repeat viewings and is a worthy 50th entry in the Disney Animated Classics series.