Monday, December 20, 2010

Tangled (2010)

Director: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
Cast: Mandy Moore, Zachary LeviDonna Murphy, Ron Perlman
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 100 min.
Score: 8 out of 10

Ok... I'll admit it.  I got out of the armchair and went to the theater for this one.  Not without good reason though.  First and foremost I am a sucker for Disney animation... Second and probably in the end more important... this was my 5 year-old daughter, Sophia's first trip to see a movie in a real movie theater.  Her first reaction upon walking into the theater and seeing the size of the screen, "Wow, Daddy that's bigger than our old TV!" (referring to our previous television which was a 40" flat screen.)  She sat completely enraptured through the entire film and as we drove home I could hear her singing one of the songs from the movie in the back seat.  Needless to say, she loved it.

So what did I think?

Can't lie... I really enjoyed it.  This is Disney Animation Studio's first return to a straight up fairy tale story in almost 20 years and it was worth the wait.  The basics of the original fairy tale are there.  Rapunzel is taken as a baby by an old witch named Mother Gothel and hidden away in a tower with no stairs and no doors and is kept away from society until one day a young man stumbles upon the tower and meets the fair maiden.  I really don't want to give away much more regarding the plot itself or the changes that were made.  There are plenty of other places on the internet for that kind of thing.

The story that they have presented here is one that continues the new trend at Disney which seems to be wrapped up in having very strong and assertive female protagonists who in the end and unlike so many previous Disney Princesses make their own way and ultimately are able to stand on their own two feet to defeat the villain.  Being the father of two girls I can thoroughly appreciate this shift.

One of the things that really struck me about this movie was that it is the first CGI film that really felt like a true merger of the art and craftsmanship of traditional cel animation and the three dimensional depth and detail that can be achieved with the used of computers.  There were many times throughout that I forgot that I was watching a computer generated image and often times it felt as though I were experiencing an animated painting.  I really hope that this is a style that they continue to use in the future.

I was very happy to note that the singing parts were all done by the actors themselves.  One of the things that has always bothered me about musicals is when actors don't sing their songs.  Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi and Donna Murphy all turn in excellent singing performances.  I'm really glad that they went for a traditional musical style where the songs are a part of the thread of the story and the musical score itself rather than dropping a crappy pop song in where ever they felt the need for someone to sing.  In that respect there were several moments were it felt like watching an old Hollywood musical.

Parents should be aware that this is the first time a Disney Princess movie has received a PG rating from the MPAA.  I'm not sure about their reasoning for that as there really isn't any more violence in this film than any of the previous princess movies.  There is some grown-up humor in the film particularly surrounding some drinking that occurs (though not by the main characters) during a scene in an seedy inn full of thugs and criminals.

I can't really find too much to complain about even though at one point the story started to feel repetitive, but even that was resolved quickly and the film was placed firmly back on track.

This is one that will end up on the self as part of the collection when it comes out.


Elizabeth said...

Just one thing. I'm surprised you don't find "The Princess and The Frog" to be a straight up fairy tale/princess movie.

I thought TPATF was excellent, I'm a big NOLA fan and I LOVED LOVED LOVED the music. :)

Jeremy said...

I guess it really depends on how you look at it. In almost every other "princess/fairy tale" movie that Disney has released the basic plot and characters from the original story are intact. Most of what got changed were the often times grisly and violent events that would have been too much for children who would go to the see the films and in several cases the endings were changed completley to accommodate the traditional Disney happy ending.

In the case of The Princess and the Frog, the only element of the original story (The Frog Prince) that is kept intact is that there is a prince that was turned into a frog... everything else was manufactured specifically for that movie. There are quite a few other bits and plot elements that just took it out of the realm of fairy tale for me.

...however... don't get me wrong. I LOVED Princess and the Frog. It is a real achievement for Disney Animation in several areas. It was first and foremost a beautifully rendered return to traditional hand drawn animation and IMHO stands near the top of their library of films. From a story standpoint... the fact that they were able to take their traditional model of the "Disney Princess" and change her from a young woman who serves mostly as a damsel in distress and ultimately relies on the male "hero" to vanquish the villain to a strong, intelligent, independent, working class girl who can stand on her own without the assistance of a male "hero" is pretty awesome. They started to move toward that with Beauty and the Beast, but this was a real move forward from what they had done before and I loved that they were able to maintain that in Tangled.

Anyway... that was probably more of a response than you were looking for... I really should just sit down and watch TPATF again and write a review.


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