Disney has had some hits and misses with animated films in recent memory. Sure, the mighty house of mouse made “Beauty and The Beast” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” but “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” was sad, “Pocahontas” was oddly animated, “Hercules” was grotesque, and “Mulan” was lacking in song quality. The less said about “Home on The Range” the better.
So Disney went to CGI animated films and tried to play catch up to Pixar. The results thus far have been mixed. “Meet the Robinsons” was cute, “Bolt” was adorable, “Chicken Little” was middling, and nothing really captured the 90's magic.
Last year, Disney went back to the well and released “The Princess and The Frog,” which was bad. The songs were awkward, the movie boring, and it seemed like Disney was marketing the movie on it's southern setting and minority characters instead of the story of songs. Baffling.
So here is Tangled opening November 24th, a delightful reimagineering of Rapunzel. Starting with a curious bit of narration which leads us to believe a main character will bite the dust, the movie really kicks off with a whimsical song by Mandy Moore who lends her voice and mannerisms to Rapunzel. Rapunzel yearns to leave the tower on her 18th birthday and witness the floating lanterns that light up the sky every year. Her mother refuses. Eventually, a thief, Flinn, stumbles upon the tower and they embark on a journey to see the lights.
For me the sign of a good animated Disney film are the songs. If a song underwhelms you in a musical, odds are the talking bits will too. Though the audio in my theater was a little low, the songs were charming and the rousing. The “We Have Dreams” production number is up there with “Be Our Guest” and “Friend Like Me” in terms of awesome toe tapping, fist pumping dance numbers with a universal message to boot. Inexplicably, Looking at the promotional materials for the film I had no idea it was a musical.
I loved it. I was enthralled. It brought old school to the new school. I loved the singing vikings. I loved the action set pieces. I loved the chameleon that is destined to be a color changing bath toy. I loved the horse that acted like a dog. I loved the love story. I loved the songs. I loved that Rapunzel used her hair in a way that evoked the coolest parts of Spider-man. I loved that the movie wasn't set in freakin' New Orleans. I loved it was more buddy comedy than love story. This movie is Temple of Doom meets Laura Croft meets Prince of Persia meets Spider-man. Which is to say it is at once familiar, and wholly originally at the same time. See this movie, bring your kids, your grandparents your second cousin, and that neighbor that smells funny. The songs are good, the villains are scary, and the jokes are funny. What more could you ask for? It's lacking the emotional punch of a film like Toy Story 3 or Wall-E, but it's a darn good time, and the magic is back.