Starring (the voices of): Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman, M.C. Gainey, Jeffrey Tambor

Director(s): Nathan Greno, Byron Howard

Writer(s): Dan Fogelman, Jacob & Willhelm Grimm (novel)

Cinematography: N/A

Original Score: Alan Menken

Running Time: 100 Mins.

Disney’s 50th animated feature, Tangled, is not its first CGI effort (Chicken Little, Bolt and Meet the Robinsons count) it does however mark the first time they have tackled a fairytale in CGI, returning to the Brothers Grimm for inspiration once more in adapting Rapunzel for the modern audience changing the name, a change which reflects both the slight tonal shift and a broader an appeal, with Disney execs deeming Rapunzel a girls story while Tangled has more all round appeal.

Title quibbles aside this adheres to the Disney fairytale formula to a T, there’s  the head-strong princess (who initially needs saving), a handsome prince, the evil step-mother villain and some side-kick thugs as well as that all important merchandise seller and source of comedy, the cute animals, which are here (rather oddly) a chameleon and (more traditionally) a horse. Oddly this perfect balance of the out of the expected (for a Disney fairytale) and traditionally loved elements mark Tangled out as something more than just another Disney effort, last years The Princess and the Frog demonstrated that Lasseter (Pixar and now Disney animation head) knows what he’s doing stopping the studio short of becoming an off-shoot of Pixar and keeping with the aesthetic we all know and love.

Plot wise this is Rapunzel in all but name, with a young girl with magic hair confined to a tower awaiting her savior, the twist is that the story is handled with a post-modern twist, though not with a sledgehammer like the Shrek films which means there are thankfully no pop culture reference, instead there are subtle nudges that are inter-woven within the sincere and expected plotting. Opening with a knowing voice-over by Flynn Rider (Levi) who is without a doubt our knight-in-shining armour though he is in fact a thief, pursued by a horse who seems to think he’s a dog and (post-tower-breakout) flung around by the heroine’s magic locks.

As an animated feature and a CGI effort it doesn’t push any boundaries, and is unlikely to go down as a “classic” in the same way as Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King but that is one hell of a benchmark, hindered somewhat by oddly placed and un-memorable if not lacklustre songs the good never fails to outweigh anything that may be lacking. For example the villain’s song is a little on the generic side, however the villain herself is far from generic. Taking in elements of all the best Disney villains over the last 60+ years while adding something new, this is one scary lady but hiding beneath an even more creepy pretence. This approach can be applied to everyone with Flynn taking in just like a latter-day Aladdin by way of every other handsome Disney prince, this though is a good thing adding dimensions to everyone we have more right to expect from a (potentially linear fairytale.

The key to Tangled’s success ultimately lay with the expert handling of such material, these are people who know their inspiration and are savvy enough to spin it enough to make it relevant whilst holding strong to the all important roots. Much funnier than their other recent CGI efforts (bolt et al.) and with heart to match the best fairy tales going right back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, I’d hope that Tangled combined with The Princess and the Frog mark the arrival of a new Golden age of Disney animation, one that embraces the old and nudges in the new, a post-modern fairytale that won’t age badly…unlike a certain Dreamworks ogre.

VERDICT

This is how to do the post-modern fairytale, keeping true to the original source and giving you a fresh twist making it funny and relevant, Tangled, simply put, proves that “Classic” Disney still has the crown when it comes to “traditional” animation.

 

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