Plot: Stolen from her parents' castle as a baby, Princess Rapunzel (Moore) is locked in a hidden tower. Now an imaginative and determined teenager, she takes off on a hilarious, hair-raising escapade with the help of a dashing bandit (Levi). With the secret of her royal heritage hanging in the balance and her captor in pursuit, Rapunzel and her cohort find adventure, heart, humor, and hair... lots of hair.
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After their recent success with The Princess and the Frog (2009), Disney released Tangled, their 50th Animated Motion Picture. This one is based on the classic tale Rapunzel. But, would Mandy Moore’s princess be as engaging as their previous efforts, or has the Disney magic once again started to wear thin?
On paper, Mandy Moore seems like a perfect choice to play one of Disney’s lovable princesses. Bubbly and innocent, she seems to imbue the qualities of a kid-friendly princess in her real life. So its no real surprise she’s been picked to become the voice of the latest Disney princess. The only real question is why it hasn’t happened before now. Thankfully, that cheerful quality translates well onto the big screen, as her shut-in character is just as charmingly innocent as expected.
The rest of the voice cast is largely unrecognizable, despite being comprised of familiar faces like Zachary Levi, Jeffrey Tambor, Ron Perlman and Brad Garrett, among others. Unlike Roseanne’s familiar twang in Disney’s Home on the Range (2004), the familiarity of their voices go largely unnoticed in the film, This means the viewers are never distracted by trying to reconcile their voices to these new unfamiliar faces.
Tasked with taking the storyline of Rapunzel (most viewers will remember little more than “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair”) and expanding it into a full-length feature film, Disney once again falls back on it’s old standards. Girl meets boy. They go on a crazy adventure together, growing closer together. Meanwhile, their animal sidekicks provide the comic relief.
While this may seem a bit cliched by this point (after all, this is the basis for most of their princess films of late), that tried and true formula continues to work. Rapunzel and Rider are an odd couple, but Disney knows how to weave a bit of romance into their tale. Viewers will be able to see the connection between these two growing stronger. Their relationship will be tested, and, of course, love will win out in the end. But, as usual, it’s the getting there that’s the fun part.
Tagging along on Rapunzel and Rider’s crazy adventure this time around are a war horse named Maximus and a chameleon named Pascal. Pascal is Rapunzel’s best and only friend, and Disney turns the little green guy into both her protector and confidant. Hilarious little snippets enforce this idea along the way. Maximus, on the other hand, is a reluctant participant to this little troupe, as his original goal is to try and snag thief Rider and bring him to justice. Won over by the charming Rapunzel, he reluctantly becomes Rider’s ally, although he never lets Rider forget Maximus doesn’t like him. Relying on their actions to speak for them, both Pascal and Maximus are hilarious scene-stealers throughout the film, despite never uttering a word.
Like most Disney animated pictures, the songs are numerous and rather tiresome. It’s a staple that wears thinner with each film, yet Disney continues to plug away at it. They occasionally produce a memorable number amidst a myriad of rather forgettable ditties. This is even truer for Tangled/ The biggest song, “I See The Light” is a bit too reminiscent of “Whole New World” from Aladdin (1992), seeming more like a remaking of that song than something new. Other songs, including “I Have A Dream” and “Mother Knows Best”, are original at least, if not exactly hit material.
In Tangled, Mandy Moore shines as Rapunzel, and the animal sidekicks are hilarious as usual. Disney once again rehashes their tried-and-true formula, and makes another film worth watching. The fact that they are still able to milk this rather cliched plotline into something viewers will enjoy watching again and again is proof that the much talked-about Disney magic is still alive and well in Tangled.