Tangled Up and Loving It

Yesterday (saturday), I had the pleasure of seeing Disney’s 50th animated feature film: Tangled.  Based on the previews and what I had heard about it, I went in expecting something cute and at least mildly amusing, but nothing spectacular.  I enjoyed The Princess and the Frog, mainly because of the novelty of returning to traditional 2D animation, and the absolutely delightful hilarity of Tiana’s friend Charlotte/Lotte (oh, and Ray the Firefly, because, seriously, who doesn’t love Jim Cummings?).  But the lyrics in The Princess and the Frog were fairly weak, and much of the humor, while cute, was obvious and not especially witty.

Now, enter Tangled.

While I continue to miss the wonder of traditional 2d animation, this movie was BEAUTIFULLY done.  The set and background designs, the color palette, and the character designs were all gorgeous.  The facial expressions of the characters, especially the two main characters and the villainess were SPOT ON.  I swear, if you ignore the huge doll-like eyes of Rapunzel, you begin to notice that the animators almost perfectly replicated Mandy Moore’s facial expressions — most especially the distinctive way she moves her mouth.

Furthermore, the voice acting was fantastic!  Now, I’ve always thought that Mandy Moore was a decent comedic actress, and I didn’t think she would do a horrible job as Rapunzel, but I wasn’t expecting her to be as good as she was.  She did a marvelous job, eschewing the usual damsel-in-distress routine for wits, toughness, humor, and an absolutely adorable hyperactive insanity, all without being over-the-top or in-your-face about it.  She has also become much stronger as a singer in the last few years.  Zachary Levi did a very good job as the suave, sarcastic thief Flynn Rider, and successfully combines the swagger with an underlying warmth Flynn tries desperately to hide (along with the fact that his real name is Eugene.  Hah!)  And Donna Murphy was perfect as the villainess who can’t help but almost like: Mother Gothel.  Her song: “Mother Knows Best” was fantastic, especially when paired with Donna Murphy’s superior (two-time Tony Award winning) voice.  Mother Gothel, as I said, is such an interesting character you can’t help but like her a little — yes, she kidnapped the baby Rapunzel in order to use the magic in her golden hair to keep herself young forever, but it seems she’s been playing at being Rapunzel’s mother for so long that the act has become as much a part of her as the villainy is.  And when she says: “I’m making hazelnut soup, you’re favorite!” it’s almost cute.

On top of all that, the movie is just HILARIOUS.  All the character interactions are well-done, snappy, and funny.  And the two non-speaking animal characters: Pascal the chameleon and Maximus the stallion, are hilarious.  Especially, Maximus, who tracks like a dog, understands absolutely everything that is going on, and is smarter than half the human characters.

Now, Tangled has beat out Harry Potter as the no. 1 spot in the weekend box office:

Mandy Moore‘s animated musical “Tangled,” a new take on long-haired fairy-tale princess Rapunzel, sewed up the No. 1 spot with $21.5 million in its second weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. That raised the Disney release’s domestic total to $96.5 million.

“Tangled” had debuted in second-place over Thanksgiving behind “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” which had been at the top of the box office the two previous weekends.

“Harry Potter” slipped to No. 2 this weekend with $16.7 million. The next-to-last chapter in the Warner Bros. franchise about the teen wizard lifted its domestic haul to $244.2 million.

Playing largely to family crowds, “Tangled” should hold on well through the holidays, said Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney.

“It’s not very often the second week of a movie that it ends up the No. 1 movie,” Viane said. “This will be one of those leggy movies that just keeps playing and playing.” — from Hairy vs. Harry: Tangled wins weekend box office

One thing that makes me a little sad is the fact that Disney has announced that Tangled will be the last “princess” or “fairy tale” movie they do in the foreseeable future.  Instead, they are trying to adapt to the changing attitudes of girls (who apparently stop dreaming of being a princess by the time they’re 5 or 6), and they are trying to attract more male viewers with more adventurous, less romantic stories.  See this LA Times article for the full story: Disney After Tangled.

All in all, I highly recommend this movie.  It’s kid/family-friendly, but smart enough for us twenty-somethings who still love animated movies.  And while the basic foundation of the Rapunzel story is a romance, there is so much more to this one, and the humor takes it far away from sappiness.  Let me put it this way: even my rather picky, 23 year old brother loved it.  That’s gotta tell ya something.