The story of Rapunzel
It looks like Disney is at it again with another animated adaptation of a classic fairy tale. For those that are familiar with Disney films of the past, then you should know that many of their animated films have been loosely based on classic fairy tales and stories throughout their history. This time it seems they're latest adaptation happens to be of the classic story, "Rapunzel" (aptly relabeled "Tangled" for the United States). As the classic fairy tale goes, a princess is locked away in a secluded tower until a handsome prince asks her to throw down her lock of hair, that happens to stretch for miles, so he may climb it and rescue her. However, like Disney's previous film, "Princess and the Frog", where the Princess merely kisses a frog to live happily ever after, there's more to the story than that. Sure, the story still involves a Princess being locked away in a secluded tower, but there's a reason why she's there. And, the man who rescues her is by far no prince charming; that I can assure you.
Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is basically a lost princess, who was born with unique supernatural healing powers, due to her mother falling ill when she was still pregnant with her. When the queen fell ill ages ago, the only remedy lied in a mystical flower that legends foretold contained magical properties to cure anything....even prolong a person's life span. Needless to say, the flower being plucked, to save the pregnant queen, didn't exactly bode well for Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), who horded the flower for years to keep herself eternally young. However, it was soon discovered that when Rapunzel was born, her hair contained those very same healing properties when reciting a song. This prompts Mother Gothel to kidnap her, and raise her in a secluded tower far away from the rest of the kingdom. Unaware of her true origins, Rapunzel grows up spending her entire life inside the secluded tower; without ever setting foot outside.
Too afraid to ever leave, as her mother has her convinced the outside world is the scariest place imaginable. Therefore, she never leaves the tower, in spite of how much she deeply wants to do so. However, when a cunning bandit, Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi), accidentally makes her acquaintance, in order to escape the palace guards after a heist, she quickly gets the notion of having Flynn agree to escort her outside of the tower for her eighteenth birthday. Flynn reluctantly accepts after Rapunzel coerces him to agree, as she's hidden his stolen bounty from the castle. Hence, the only way Flynn can get his treasure back is to agree to escort Rapunzel outside the tower for one night. However, this doesn't sit well with her mother, as she takes the term, "smothering", up to a whole other level. Therefore, you can bet she's not about to potentially lose her "fountain of youth" that easily, as she relentlessly pursues her to the bitter end; even at the cost of sacrificing Flynn's life and Rapunzel's freedom. Yeah, and I bet you thought your mother was over protective and smothering, huh?
As many readers can tell by now, the story is fairly cut and dry like all Disney fairy tale based films. You have a would be charming, cute, beautiful, resourceful yet remarkably naive princess. A would be prince charming; figuratively speaking that is. A cunning and diabolical villain, who invokes dark magic like most Disney classical animated villains of the past. The goofy would be sidekicks in the horse and bar patrons, who help Flynn and Rapunzel along the way, then you have yourself the whole magical fairy tale musical set up. You add all those elements together, and you have yourself another run of the mill Disney animated feature. Hooray! Well...not really, as that's basically this film's entire problem. Apart from the various cliches and predictability, it fails to separate itself from other classical Disney films of the past.
Sure, one can easily point out the fallacies and similarities of other Disney animated classics like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Cinderella", "Little Mermaid" and others. However, those films had so many memorable moments, and captivating unique characters that allowed for each of those perspective movies to shine on their own. That's essentially where the problem lies for "Tangled", as many of supporting characters aren't charming or sweet. No, they're just straight up annoying and weird. Although, the little pet gecko that Rapunzel owned was pretty funny, but the rest of the supporting characters weren't. If that wasn't bad enough, the few brief memorable moments they do have, in this movie, tend to rip off other past Disney films. Take the romantic boat ride out to sea between Rapunzel and Flynn, for instance. Was it a heartfelt scene? Yes, it was. Only one small problem. It was a lot better when "Little Mermaid" did it originally back in 1989. Heck, they even have the audacity to have Flynn do his Tarzan impression, as he surfs down a water slide. Kind of similar to how Tarzan surfed on the tree branches in Disney's "Tarzan (1999)." However, I will give "Tangled" credit for one thing. At least, they didn't rip off any of the songs in past Disney films, as that would've been the "kiss of death" for this movie to say the least.
That's not to say that this is a bad movie by any means. No, it's just a mediocre one at best. For what it is, kiddies will still love the movie, as it offers a easy to follow plot structure. And, the songs are fairly catchy and original, unlike the rest of the movie.
As far as visuals go, I was highly impressed with the level of detail, as well as the character designs homage to traditional non CGI animated Disney films. Plus, I loved the chemistry between Zachary and Mandy, as they fed off each other quite well.
Unfortunately, none of those were enough to make this anywhere near the level of previous Disney classics. That's why I have no choice but to give this film a two out of four. Not a bad movie by any means, as I'm sure kids and families will still love it. However, I just wouldn't expect this film to be on par with previous Disney classics like "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", and many others.