Who’s In It: The voices of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, M.C. Gainey, Richard Kiel, Ron Perlman, Paul F. Tompkins
The Basics: Once upon a time, a baby princess was born. Five minutes later she was promptly kidnapped by an evil witch who raised her as her own in a tower to harness the girl’s magical age-reversing locks for herself. Now, years later, Rapunzel’s a beautiful woman-child (Mandy Moore, possessed of the perfect Disney Princess voice) with hair for days, a curiosity for the outside world, and crippling issues with codependency and agoraphobia. Good thing there’s a handsome young thief (Zachary Levi) gallivanting around to help Rapunzel leave the nest like most teenagers do – by lying to her mom and running away from home with some guy.
What’s The Deal: For all the girl power messaging in Tangled’s marketing campaign, this updated Rapunzel is a fairly terrible role model for little girls. Rapunzel strains to leave home under the guise of independence, but she just ends up trading one crutch (her stepmother) for another (her man); though handy with a cast-iron frying pan, her emblematically domestic weapon of choice, she nonetheless allows herself to be kidnapped and emotionally intimidated, whether by bloodthirsty thugs or by her own mother. Rapunzel is effectively powerless to defend herself, though she can heal others by singing to her own hair – fat lot of good that’d do if the story hadn’t invented a heroic love interest to hang half of the film on. Snow White lamented, “Some day my prince will come,” back in 1937. It’s a shame that over 70 years later, Disney isn’t singing much of a different tune.
What Tangled Does Well: It breathes visual life into the Rapunzel character in a crisp and pleasing way; the animation isn’t terribly stylized, but it’s just bland enough not to distract. Disney couldn’t get farther away from the world of its last, under-performing, animated princess flick – the New Orleans-set The Princess and the Frog, full of lights and colors and minute details – here keeping it so simple that all that lingers in your mind is the film’s pretty, peppy heroine and her long, lustrous, blonde hair.
What Tangled Doesn’t Do So Well: Besides failing to give Rapunzel a backbone and retreading ground so familiar you can fall asleep for ten minutes and still know exactly what happened, Tangled fails the ultimate Disney test: It doesn’t have a single memorable song. When even Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, who’s collaborated on such classic ditties as “Under the Sea,” “Be Our Guest” and “Colors of the Wind,” can’t write a winner, you know this isn’t the next Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White or Little Mermaid.
Fair Warning To Parents: Tangled is rated PG for “brief mild violence,” but what that rating doesn’t tell you is that it’s for a particularly intense scene in which a main character is stabbed. To DEATH. If shanking is your idea of “mild violence,” then by all means, take the kiddies – and enjoy paying for therapy!