The tale of Rapunzel was never one that appealed to me even as a kid, but after seeing what The Princess and the Frog had managed to do with its own spin on the story of the same name, I figured that Tangled might be something else to add to their own streak of success. Disney’s 50th animated feature is not something that we can recognize only as merely just the tale of Rapunzel anymore but in the same manner to which The Princess and the Frog is striking back towards their Renaissance era by adapting a well-known story for the screen, Tangled plays upon Disney’s old tradition which has always suited their work during such period so perfectly and as a result creates an entertaining final product.
One already should know the story of Rapunzel from its basic beats, a girl with magical hair of great length is locked away inside of a tower. Longing for a life outside, she finds comfort in an encounter together with the charming bandit Flynn Rider, in place of the traditional prince climbing her hair to take her out of the tower so she can become a princess. It comes from Disney’s own inventiveness with the nature of Tangled‘s roots that gives the film the flavour which it carries and it soon goes beyond just any familiar tale of Rapunzel while at the same time paying its own respects towards what had inspired it to come about. It was distinctive touches like such that ultimately made Disney at some of their very best as memorable as they are and Tangled captures that essence perfectly.
It would already be easy to associate Disney’s tendency to keep well-known tales like such within their traditional hand-drawn animation (something which sadly seems to have faded now) but in the case of Tangled the computer-generated animation fits so perfectly with the storytelling employed. Every tiny detail put to the screen only highlights where Tangled is only setting itself up for success along the way for every texture placed into each and every set piece is such lavish for one’s own eyes and it still captures what made the best films of the Disney Renaissance as memorable as they were, even with vastly different animation styles being employed. If it were never clear enough, one can only go ahead to look at how Tangled is never afraid to let its colours loose and as a result it forms what would become some of the most beautiful sequences in the film.
What I also love about Tangled comes out from what more they turn the character of Rapunzel into. With Mandy Moore’s voice breathing life into the character, it also helps that she’s written as as more assertive figure, something that I’ve always loved about seeing Disney offering their own spin on their princess protagonists. Her bond together with Flynn Rider is nothing short of entertaining from start to finish, and even with a familiar tread coming down in terms of their own relationship there’s nothing uninteresting about watching the two move for their energy keeps Tangled moving at a constant pace. For what she also has to offer, Mother Gothel is a satisfactory villain, and even if she may not have carried so much of an intimidating presence compared to the most notable of Disney’s villains there’s a dynamic coming along with her relationship with Rapunzel that prevents herself from succumbing to the lowest denominators for their traditional antagonists for she embodies what would already seem familiar to these sorts to her own benefit.
Alan Menken’s score, while it breathes life into the sequences where it is used perfectly, comes off as one of the weaker links for knowing the memorability factor towards some of his most notable works such as Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid, the sad part is that in comparison his score falls somewhat flat. I have great respect for Disney’s favouring of sticking to tradition but while I enjoyed Tangled‘s intention to subvert the story of Rapunzel into something more than just her wait by making Rapunzel a figure of self-worth breaking free from authority, I feel like it loses a bit of steam towards the ending. While I do appreciate that Rapunzel and Flynn’s chemistry had worked enough in order to hit emotional beats in the right places, the ending’s fairy tale note in sticking with tradition only took away from a good amount of what magic had been formed to begin with.
My own qualms with Tangled being put aside, it goes to pay its ode to the Disney Renaissance amidst a new style in the best manner possible. It’s not always effective, but at its core when we have the relationships between Rapunzel and Flynn coming into play alongside what Disney had sought for with turning her story into, ultimately it ends up winning oneself over because it still carries its respect towards tradition in the finest sense, for it uses tradition in order to subvert what could have been any ordinary retelling of any fairy tale under their name into something beyond that. Given my own indifference towards the story of Rapunzel, it always pleases me to see Tangled, while sticking to tradition in some sense, goes beyond her story in order to form something all the more compelling.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Disney.
Directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Screenplay by Dan Fogelman
Produced by Roy Conli, John Lasseter, Glen Keane
Starring Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy
Release Year: 2010
Running Time: 100 minutes