I am definitely a fan of animation, and in recent years I had only to look to Pixar to get my fix for fun, rich, storytelling. How to Train Your Dragon was a huge surprise from Dreamworks this year, but I have long wanted Disney to return to form with a great new animated film. And with
Rapunzel Tangled, they have done just that.
What is also important to remember is that this really is a fairytale. Unlike the Shrek films, seemingly inspired by Fractured Fairy Tales of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame, which bring a deep sense of jaded sarcasm to the proceedings, Tangled retains a deep sense of being part of the genre and a deep respect for the art form. Overall, I’d say that it has a style similar to Princess Bride or Stardust, having a wink at genre conventions, but maintaining that strong sense of respect for that kind of storytelling which I believe we never grow out of (and Bill Willingham of the Fables comics would agree).
Tangled is really a great movie on all counts. There is action and adventure, well-written leads, and fantastic comedy beats. In addition the voice cast does a great job in both singing and acting. Although the songs themselves aren’t super-memorable like Disney films of the Second Golden Age (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin), they are better than just serviceable, and do a good job integrating with the story. I may not have walked out of the theater singing them line for line, but each musical scene was very entertaining.
The ‘sidekick’ characters of Maximus the horse and Pascal the chameleon are always funny and entertaining and never veer into annoying territory (like Eddie Murphy’s dragon in Mulan). They serve the story well, and add a good deal of the comedy in the story. I think my favorite characters in the film may have been the “thugs and ruffians” that inhabit the Snuggly Duckling.
The animation itself is also a joy to watch. The colors are lush and rich (even in 3D), and the animation is absolutely stunning. It’s very fluid and flowing, and I doubt it would have been possible to blend human figures and a handwritten style in a CGI film like this a few years ago. It really makes it feel like a consistent and fun world, and brings a sense of style that is rare in CGI films.
Anyone who likes fairytales, and fun with a dose of swashbuckle should definitely go see Tangled. There’s not much else out at the theaters that crams this much fun into 100 minutes. Also, I need to get a cast iron pan.