Captivating, cute, darling, delightful, precious, loveable. A few words to describe Disney’s new hit musical “Tangled.”
The movie begins with the voice over of Zachary Levi as the anti-hero Flynn Ryder, telling the tale of his own death, though clarifying it was really the story of Rapunzel. After Princess Rapunzel and her mother are saved by the power of a magical golden flower, Rapunzel is stolen away by an old lady who uses the magical power of Rapunzel’s golden hair, which will lose its power when cut, to keep herself youthful. For 18 years she is locked into a tower by her “mother,” and held there through the fear of the outside world and the “ruffians” who would steal her hair for its magical powers.
But every year golden lanterns are lit and set loose from the kingdom by the King and Queen, in the hopes that someday their princess would return. Seeing these lights every year on her birthday, Rapunzel becomes enchanted and dreams of seeing the “floating lights” at the source.
When the thief Flynn Ryder enters her tower during a chase by the royal guard after stealing the princess’s crown, and after a staunch beating with a frying pan (seen as continually useful throughout the whole film), Rapunzel convinces Flynn to accompany her to see the floating lights, against her own “mother’s” approval.
The adventure takes off quickly from there, with Rapunzel’s quirky yet charismatic personality dominating the screen and Flynn’s fumbling egotism charming the audience.
Pascal the chameleon and Maximus the horse are the two animal helpers, adding comedy to the chemistry of the Rapunzel and Flynn pair, including a great moment of Pascal calling for a further beating of Flynn when he refuses to cooperate.
Mother Gothel, voiced by Donna Murphy, Rapunzel’s fake mother, makes a perfect villainess with her sharp features and constant patronizing. The song “Mother Knows Best” says it all, when Rapunzel is continually torn down into believing she cannot care for herself, and the insults pile up when she is even called “a little chubby.”
“Tangled” is a thoughtful retelling of the classic Grimm Brothers’ tale, grasping the main points of the original story and adding many contemporary humorous aspects. Mandy Moore is a novelty as the voice of Rapunzel, having the talent both to act with her voice and to sing better than just well. Zachary Levi, best known as his role of Chuck in the TV series “Chuck,” does a perfect job as a lonely guy overcompensating by putting up a false bravado (sound familiar ladies?).
In all, “Tangled” is the new just-see feel-good movie of the year. The underlying theme of treasuring the journey and not the destination is not cliché but classic. My only regret is that the film won’t be available for DVD in time for a Christmas present for myself.
Line to look for: Zachary Levi: “Why is he smiling at me?”