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DVD Review: "Tangled"

By It's My Life on March 30, 2011 2:11 PM | No TrackBacks

Do you have a parent who you feel is unfair? Too strict? Just plain overprotective?

IML'ers have written in to our "You Said It" section, complaining about what you feel is unjust parental treatment. Many of you wish the rule-happy adults in your life would let you date, or have a cell phone, or wear makeup, or at least hang out with friends at the mall without being followed around by a smothering, paranoid guardian who watches your every move. Sheesh!

But what if the freedom you longed for was, actually, freedom? What if your parent sheltered you by, y'know, sheltering you?

Tangled Blu-ray art sm.pngIn "Tangled," Walt Disney's latest animated adaptation of a classic fairytale which was released this week on DVD and Blu-ray, a teenage girl named Rapunzel faces this exact situation, having been literally locked up in a tower by the most overprotective mother in the world. Only the woman, Gothel, isn't really her mother, and she isn't really protecting Rapunzel so much as the girl's amazing secret. Rapunzel's incredibly long and flowing blonde hair isn't just nice to look's magic. In fact, the mystic healing powers of the hair have been keeping Gothel alive for hundreds of years.

But Rapunzel, on permament lockdown, dreams of seeing the wider world, and when a rogueish thief named Flynn Rider decides to hide from the law in her secluded tower, she hatches a daring escape plan. Will it work? Will she find out more about the mysterious floating lights she watches from her tower window? Will she finally "get a real life"?

When "Tangled" was released in theatres last fall, it was a big hit with filmgoers of all ages thanks to the updated story, beautiful animation, catchy music, and voice acting talents of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, among others. Now that fans can add the movie to their home entertainment library, it's fun to look at what may or may not help make it a lasting favorite.

Here's what we like about "Tangled":

A complex relationship. Gothel keeps control over Rapunzel by using the power of Fear against her; from an early age, she brainwashes her that the outside world is dangerous and filled with people who will do her harm. She'll yell at Rapunzel, then tell her how much she loves her (unconvincingly, at least to all of us). Gothel adds a touch of belittling and teasing, too. Rapunzel can't resist the urge to rebel, but she also can't shake the need to please her "mother" despite being treated this way. It's a dynamic that we think many viewers can relate to. Have you ever felt controlled or belittled by someone you love? Is there someone who treats you not-so-nice, which makes you want their approval even more? If not a parent or relative, then maybe a friend? It's one of the most complicated relationships we've ever seen in a Disney movie.

tangled-disney.jpgA good bad guy. Or is he a bad good guy? It doesn't matter.  Everyone loves a "bad boy," as long as he's secretly good at heart, and Flynn Rider is just such a boy... er, man. Guy. Whatever.  Handsome and vain, and just a bit rugged, he's an outlaw who has a better sense of right and wrong than most good guys. And he knows how to smolder, which is, hot. Whatever.

A hairy problem, solved. You can't really do a cartoon of the Rapunzel story if you don't get the girl's hair right, and the animators working on Tangled did exactly that: they got it right. Rapunzel's hair is like a character all its own in this movie, moving and flowing and trailing behind her in a beautiful ribbon of gold. A "making-of" featurette included on the disc includes some early work-in-progress animations that show just how hard it was to get all that hair to behave properly while Rapunzel walked, danced, and leaped around in her tower. No wonder this was the most expensive cartoon ever made! (See the video below for a sneak peek.)

Pretty paper. One of the most visually stunning moments in the film involves a boat, our two main characters, and thousands of floating, drifting paper candle lanterns. Impossible to adequately describe with words, the sequence is lovely to watch.

Maximus to the max. There have been a lot of horses in animated fairy tales, but Maximus, the big, noble Roman-inspired white steed in Tangled, is special. He's got personality (horsinality?) to spare, and he's one of the funniest things about the whole film. His relationship with the thief Flynn Rider is complicated, and particularly hilarious. We haven't liked a cartoon horse this much since Pegasus helped the hero save the day in "Hercules."

Dreamy songs. "Tangled" is a musical, and while it can't quite compare with classics like "The Little Mermaid," the songs are some of the best to be featured in a Disney movie in many, many years. Our favorite show-stopper is the hilarious "I've Got A Dream," which stars a gang of underworld thugs and killers who, deep down, long for different sorts of lives. It's wacky and wonderful, and kept us singing long after the movie was over.

Modern heroine, timeless themes. Disney princesses have come a long way from characterized as simply "beautiful," with a nice singing voice, kindness to animals, and ability to get a dwarf's house really, really clean. The Rapunzel of "Tangled" is strong and determined and brave. She has a dream and she's focused on making it happen. All good. Very, very good! Big like! 

Here's what we didn't like so much:

Barbie-esque Rapunzel. Okay, so we know she's got to have long blonde hair. But did they have to give her ginormous, Littlest Pet Shop eyes? A tiny waist and stereotypically "princess" body? Of course, Rapunzel dolls and other merchandising must appeal to little girls, but we're still waiting for Disney to create a princess who looks even a tiny bit like a real person.

"Tangled" is rated PG for brief, mild violence.

IML's Rating: A

Here's a cool look at how they animated all that hair:


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