Andy Bockelman: ‘Tangled’: A fairy tale with few split ends
3 out of 4 stars
Starring the voices of: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy and Brad Garrett.
It’s been said but never conclusively proven that blondes have more fun.
But, for the title towhead of “Tangled,” that expression probably rings truer than it would for most, since she’s never been out of her room.
There’s no finer thief in the land than Flynn Rider (voice of Zachary Levi) and consequently, no one gracing more wanted posters. But, he may have gone too far in his latest heist, stealing the tiara of the kingdom’s beloved, long-lost princess.
Hey, it’s not like she was using it, right?
In his search for a good hideout, he comes across an out-of-the-way tower that looks deserted. However, the home invasion doesn’t sit too well with the tower’s inhabitant — Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), a lovely young maiden with yards upon yards of flaxen hair that has never been trimmed because she’s never once left her tower.
Having been raised to fear the outside world by her mother (Donna Murphy), Rapunzel’s one wish is to be able to get a closer look at the mysterious lights that always seem to appear above the nearby kingdom the night of her birthday.
Flynn assumes that taking the naive girl there and back will be just a little hiccup in his life as a scalawag, but he didn’t count on having to deal with roving bands of ruffians, the royal guards and Rapunzel’s mother, whose determination to get her daughter back masks a secret about the girl’s true identity.
Pop princess Moore is the perfect voice for the golden-tressed teenager, who has never experienced anything in life beyond the various time-killing activities that she does day after day, including painting, reading, baking and brushing her magical hair.
Levi is fine as Flynn — aka Eugene Fitzherbert — who looks like a medieval Backstreet Boy with a Robin Hood complex, minus whole “give to the poor” thing.
But, even his callous personality can’t hold up with someone as adorable as his new charge.
Murphy steals every scene she’s part of as Rapunzel’s mother, Gothel, a snarky, selfish and vain woman with a level of self-esteem-shattering cruelty that stacks up nicely in the grand tradition of villainous maternal figures in fairy tales.
She’s not the only antagonist, with Ron Perlman adding his low-pitched boom as Flynn’s humorless, vengeful ex-partners, the Stabbington brothers.
But, not all the bad guys are actually bad. Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Tambor and Richard Kiel are hilarious as a gang of bandits who let the tough act fade once Rapunzel warms their hearts.
Still, how tough could they be, frequenting a watering hole called the Snuggly Duckling?
It’s hard to believe it took Disney this long to add Rapunzel to their lineup of princesses, but as the studio’s 50th animated feature, it has just the right amount of flair in the twist given to the original story by the Brothers Grimm.
As memorable as the classic princesses Snow White, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, the titular heroine is also modernized in comparison to the archaic damsel in distress type, and easily more of a formidable presence than her beau when it comes to wielding a frying pan.
Plus, with her all-purpose hair, she could give Indiana Jones a lesson in swinging from ledges.
And, if last year’s “The Princess and the Frog” didn’t slake your thirst for the traditional song and dance format of Disney animation, you won’t be disappointed, with the romantic duet “I See the Light.” the best of the soundtrack.
A good blend of new and old storytelling with exceptionally colorful and glowing animation, “Tangled” is ideal holiday viewing. And for those of you annoyed by the ever-growing list of wise-cracking animal sidekicks like Sebastian the crab, Iago the parrot and Mushu the dragon, you’ll be relieved that Rapunzel’s pet chameleon, Pascal, and Flynn’s foe, Maximus the horse, are mute.
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