Movie Review: "Tangled"

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For the past 87 years the animation of Walt Disney has been a source of joy and inspiration to many. It is fitting that the 50th full length feature upholds those ideals Walt started with ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. Nathan Greno and Byron Howard helm this magnificent journey of a time old tale in ‘Tangled’. With the voice talent of Mandy Moore (Grey’s Anatomy, License to Wed), Zachary Levi (Chuck, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel), Donna Murphy (Trust Me, The Nanny Diaries) and Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Hellboy Series) you are in for an amazing adventure.

“This is the story of how I die”, that’s what Flynn Ryder (Levi) would like you to know. Okay it is about a young girl whom has been locked up in a tower for a long time, Rapunzel (Moore) is her name and this is really her story. Rapunzel has been locked away by her “Mother” Gothel (Murphy) whom has done so for Rapunzel’s protection. Flynn is merely a thief who wants his own castle and while running away from his co conspirators, whom he is trying to evade with all the loot, stumbles into the secluded hideaway tower of Rapunzel’s. As Rapunzel and Flynn hit it off, literally, she asks him to take her out and show her the world she has never seen. Flynn agrees, as Rapunzel is holding the loot as collateral until he takes her to see the lanterns. Along the way we meet up with the ‘thugs’, whom have a knack for musical expression, a very determined horse of the Captain of the Guard that has a canine complex, two thieves that want what they believe is theirs, and the true story of Rapunzel’s past with the key to her future.

Greno and Howard have amassed a remarkable group of animators, painters, graphic artists, voices and musical talent to bring this film to life. Using the basis of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Dan Fogelman (Bolt, Fred Clause) has created an outstanding story for Greno and Howard. Fogelman’s ability to adapt the story into Disney style is quite wonderful. You are truly drawn into the characters and care about them and want more from them in a way that you don’t want the film to end. This coincides with the songs Alan Menken (Aladdin, Hercules) has created to enhance the story. With memorable songs as “I’ve got a Dream”, sung by the thugs, to Mother Gothel’s, “Mother Knows Best” and the love song “I See the Light”, Menken is sure to have another nomination coming his way.

The true brilliance of this film goes back to what this film is all about, the animation. To be the 50th full feature animated film is a big deal that Greno, Howard and producer Roy Conli (Treasure Planet, Hunchback of Notre Dame) have taken with pride and have lived up to the expectations of executive producer  John Lasseter (Toy Story 3, Up). From the background artwork to the individual characters, time and care was given to the little details. Backgrounds pop out and are vibrant with color and life. Characters are lively, charming, and believable (in their animation aspects of course). Movement of the camera during the chase scenes are fluid to the point of almost lifelike in presentation. This goes to show, Disney has truly put the emphasis on making sure not one piece of the film puzzle is left untouched, every visual element, background music, and sound has been touched and retouched to bring this magnificent film to the screen.

But of course, the film is brought to life by the endowment of voice from an eclectic and formidable cast of actors. Rapunzel is voiced by the glamorous Mandy Moore. Moore takes the characterization to heart every word that she speaks. From the fair maiden who longs for being in the world to the angst of doing something wrong and upsetting her ‘mother’. Her voice lends the sincerity you feel from the original Grimm’s story. Donna Murphy plays the ever conniving, all out for herself Mother Gothel. For someone so small in stature as Murphy is, her voice fills up the screen with all the essence of a classic villain. When she belts out “Mother Knows Best” you can’t help but feel queasy know all of us at some point in our life have had a similar moment with our own mothers.  Zachary Levi lends his voice to the ever charming Flynn Ryder, the thief of thieves and all around good guy who just wants a castle of his own, on an island. Levi is charming in his own right and vocally it can be heard. With such lines as, “I didn’t want to have to do this, but you leave me no choice. Here comes the smolder”, Levi jumps into the role like the thief he portrays to try and steal the show but is thwarted by a character with no lines at all.

You’re wondering how this could be? How can a character with no voice steal the show? Meet Maximus, the Captain of the Guards horse. As I said before the animators of Maximus have done astonishing work on bringing Maximus to the screen. Nothing but grunts and neighs for a voice, his physical motions and actions are what make him stand out from the other characters. Taking the heroic nature of a horse and combining the aspects of a bloodhound, the animators had many personalities to use to illustrate Maximus. No matter what he was doing you were just waiting for the next moment he would interact with any of the characters. At one point I was waiting for him to just stand up on two legs and just start talking like everyone else but alas he didn’t his mere presence and actions were all that was needed in this film. Maximus steals the show in being a comedic sidekick, ‘voice’ of reason, consummate pursuer of justice and most importantly, a close confidant and friend. Bravo to the lead animation team for Maximus.

Least we not forget those well deserved supporting cast players. In the roll of the Stabbington Brothers, the arch enemies of Flynn, is an actor whom I first remember playing ‘The Beast’, Ron Perlman. The thug crew, doing a great job around every corner, literally, with such lovably mean looking, golden heart characters such as Big Nose, played by Jeffery Tambor (The Invention of Lying, The Hangover) or the ever so nimble fingered and catchy singing of Hook Hand, voiced by Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Pacifier) captures your soul with laughs abounding. All of whom along with many others contribute to a very well rounded adventure that truly only Disney can provide.

What did you expect? A cold mish mosh of a story thrown together and just sprinkled with a little pixie dust as Disney has done before? Sorry to disappoint you. Greno, Howard, and Roy have done those that have come before them proud. After 87 years it is a culmination of everyone working together to bring this movie to what it will become, a classic. True in nature to the story, it is what is inside that makes this film special. Anyone can do or become anything if they put their mind and heart to it.

(click play to see the trailer)

Rapunzel has been told her whole life that she can’t do the one thing that she wants to do, go out into the world and see where the lanterns come from. All of the sudden that changes with a chance meeting with Flynn, who has seen where the lanterns come from and, at first is hesitant but opens the world too her. It is a story of being lost in life until someone who has experienced more crosses your path and opens new doors. I’ve been Flynn, heck I still feel like him a bit now. I was once a thief that stumbled across a Rupunzel who did not feel complete because her tower of armor would not let her out to see the world she wanted to see. It was comfortable and protected her but it didn’t allow others to truly see her. Once I opened the door and showed her the light, the easy of being in the world without the armor, she came alive. I am not the only one to see this as many have expressed to how they have never seen her in such light. I can’t take all the credit, like Rapunzel and Flynn, we work together through everything, good or bad and don’t let our family dictate anything we do. It is our life and we will live it our way. As I’m sure Rapunzel and Flynn will do in their lives.

Live your life to its fullest and find your lanterns.

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