Welcome back Disney…
Cast: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy & Ron Perlman
Directed by: Nathan Greno & Byron Howard
Screenplay by: Dan Fogelman
Rapunzel (Moore) has been locked away in a sky scraping tower her whole life by a wicked old crone (Murphy) who uses Rapunzel’s golden, magical hair to keep herself forever young. Longing to see the outside world, Rapunzel’s dream finally comes true with the help of good-hearted thief Flynn (Levi).
When Pixar’s creative director John Lasseter took over Disney’s anmimation department back in 2006, he assured audiences that he would get the Mouse House back on track after a string of disappointing releases. Thus far Lasseter has lived up to that statement, starting out solidly with 2008’s Bolt and following it with The Princess And The Frog, which saw Disney magnificently return to classic hand-drawn animation. The latest to emerge under Lasseter’s watchful eye, Tangled – a modern re-telling of The Brothers Grimm fable Rapunzel – keeps Disney’s current run of form firmly on track.
For the most part, it’s classic Disney but this time around its been somewhat modernised. For example, the dashing hero Flynn wryly shrugs at one point “I don’t do backstory” and his horse named Maximus seems to think he is the John McClane of animal sidekicks. Meanwhile, our heroin princess is strong-willed, sassy and the film’s very sharp grasp of mother/daughter dynamics is the strongest yet for a Disney ‘toon. Said mother is terrifically voiced by Broadway star Donna Murphy perfectly capturing the vain aspect of her character, especially in the standout vocal of the film, ‘mother knows best’.
Elsewhere, there is a standout action sequence in which a dam bursts in the midst of a thrilling chase and there is decent comic-relief in the form of some brute thugs who dream of a bigger and better life. And as you would fully expect, the visuals are stunning throughout including Rapunzel’s streaming golden hair that is put to inventive use on several occasions.
Tangled almost finishes on a surprisingly dark note but doesn’t quite go through with it. However, before we even get to this point, Flynn and Rapunzel’s romance comes alive in a radiant sequence where thousands of floating lanterns light up the night sky as they watch from below. It’s beautifully realised and touches the heart in a way that only an on-song Disney can. The magic of Disney is still very much alive.