When you’re in a slump, it makes sense to review what made you a success in the first place. With that strategy in mind, Disney’s animation division goes back to its roots with Tangled, an updated, rollicking fairy tale that Uncle Walt would have been proud to put his name to.
Bearing little resemblance to the original German fairy tale, the film picks up the story of the cloistered, ideal shampoo spokesmodel as she’s about to mark her 18th birthday. Rapunzel (voice by Mandy Moore) is eager to get out of the tower where she’s been held as a captive, but her mother, Gothel (Donna Murphy), refuses to do so because she’s found that the young lady’s luscious locks have powers that will keep her young. However, when Flynn (Zachary Levi), a bandit-on-the-run, stumbles upon Rapunzel’s skyscraping prison, complications ensue, especially when we find that the damsel is actually the missing daughter of the king and queen.
The movie has all of the elements that have made the classic Disney films cornerstones of the animation genre. While it does not reach the dazzling heights of Snow White, nor Beauty and the Beast, Tangled is just as good as the similarly themed The Little Mermaid. The visuals are dynamic and, when seen in 3-D, the process lends a striking depth and sharpness to images. What’s most surprising are the film’s musical numbers, which the studio is going out of its way not to promote, that charm not only those on screen but viewers as well. Throw in two animal sidekicks – wily horse Maximus and protective chameleon Pascal – and you have a film that, while not as moving as the Pixar movies, is a satisfying lark.