(PG) Voice talents of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi
Disney’s 50th animated fairytale film is apparently going to be its last “princess” film for a while according to recent reports, which is a shame because they seem to be just hitting their stride now that Pixar head John Lasseter is taking over the reins.
Tangled’s history is an interesting one. Lasseter and co. realised the limiting potential of a classic retelling of the story (and the limited potential demographic for yet another “princess” story: read five-year-old girls) and recreated a sophisticated and contemporary reboot of the tale that is now a gender-equal romance.
Disney have even been marketing the film’s more masculine elements to appeal to a broader demographic.
Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) is no longer pining for her prince; she is desperate to leave the castle where her guardian Mother Gothel (voiced by Donna Murphy) has kept her under lock and key due to the special healing powers of her very generous head of hair.
Every year, the King and Queen send out thousands of lanterns on Rapunzel’s birthday in hope that she will follow them home and claim her rightful place as princess. From her tower deep in the forest, Rapunzel sees these lanterns and decides that one day she will make her way to see them by any means possible.
She seizes her chance to leave when a charming thief, Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachary Levi), stumbles upon the castle while he himself is escaping trouble.
No damsel in distress, Rapunzel bribes Flynn to take her to the lanterns, ensuring that she ultimately discovers her true destiny.
This is an excellent contemporary retelling of the story, rendered beautifully in CGI and immersive rather than gimmicky 3D. Scenes where Rapunzel ventures out into the real world are delightfully written and, yes, there are some Disney songs to mark the major emotional beats of the film.
Rapunzel’s hair is a character on its own, as she uses it for a variety of comedic purposes.
Thematically, the film is rich with metaphor: the power of light to heal and self-sacrifice are evident throughout the film. One song in particular, “I see the Light”, is also rich with symbolism as Rapunzel is awakened to the destiny that awaits her.
Destined to become a classic, this is a return to form for Disney and a great all-round family entertainment.