VOD film review: Tangled
James R | On 23, Dec 2013
Directors: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
Cast: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy
Watch Tangled online in the UK: Disney+ / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
Meet Tangled, Disney’s 50th – and their first CGI – movie. It’s a fresh take on Rapunzel, one of the few that haven’t already touched, and it was released in cinemas in 3D. Old school story meets modern film-making? Whatever. It’s about a girl with hair. And that’s something everyone can identify with. Apart from boys. And people with no hair.
Oh yes, this is proper Disney prisoner-to-princess territory. Rapunzel (Moore) is snatched from her royal cradle and held captive in the improbably tall tower of not-very-nice witch Gothel (Murphy). Why? Well, her magical locks hold the power of eternal youth. It’s a secret L’Oreal would kill for. So Rapunzel is kept indoors while Gothel swans about outside looking like a spring chicken. A spring chicken that will never die.
Then along comes suave thief Flynn Rider (Levi) – “sorry Blondie, I don’t do back story” – who winds up rescuing her and helping her blossom into a woman. Of course, her hair comes in handy, as a grappling hook and impromptu weapon, but Flynn falls for our heroine because of her neurotic qualities and her cute animated face.
As romance fills the air, the two bond over a staggering display of floating lanterns. The rest of the time they spend getting chased by a grumpy palace horse, who (impressively) doesn’t talk. Peppering the scenes with slapstick, he’s a sidekick to rival Aladdin’s Abu. And it’s hard to top a monkey in a hat.
Other highlights include a bar room brawl with a gang of angry criminals (namely Jeffrey Tambor, Ron Perlman and – yes – Richard Kiel). One of them has a hook. One has an eye patch. Another plays the piano. They join together for a rousing ditty called I’ve Got a Dream.
Admittedly, Alan Menken’s music isn’t his finest (Glenn Slater’s lyrics perhaps let the side down) but this is full-on family fun. The feisty Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi lead the show, and stage stalwart Donna Murphy almost steals it with her excellent signature tune, Mother Knows Best.
It’s all presented with a classy confidence. The animation is superb, bursting with bright colours, but the script is what really shines. Witty without laboured pop culture references, Dan Fogelman doesn’t need a talking animal sidekick to keep everyone entertained. With Tangled, he has taken a female protagonist of old and written a thoroughly modern heroine in a story that’s engaging across the board, winning over everyone watching at home – even the boys and the baldies.
Hot on the heels of Enchanted and Princess and the Frog, Tangled marks something of a corner-turn for Disney: a winning streak The House of Mouse hasn’t enjoyed since the early 90s and a run of fantastic, empowering female characters who have left Pixar’s sequel-heavy slate trailing in their wake.
Tangled is available on Disney+ UK, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription or a £79.99 yearly subscription.