So with the intention of finding the best animated film 2010, last night I watched and reviewed the glorious How To Train Your Dragon. Tonight, I found myself with time to watch the second contender in this contest: Tangled. As I mentioned in my review of HTTYD, I am objectively taking each film one at a time, from shortest in duration to the longest. So, at a robust 100 minutes, Disney's entry was the entertainment for my viewing pleasure. And pleased I am.
*Some minor spoilers could appear below.*
Tangled is a wonderful take on the Rapunzel story by the Brothers Grimm. It begins with a little background exposition, with the story of how Gothel, in an effort to keep her youth, kidnapped the little princess Rapunzel and took her to live in a tower, locked away from the world. Gothel does this because the little princess's hair has the magical ability to restore youth to one who holds it in her hands. Eventually though, this arrangement becomes frustrating for Rapunzel, who desires to see the world. Her chance comes in the form of Flynn Ryder, a thief who stole the crown of the kidnapped princess. Ryder climbs into the tower to seek refuge as he escapes from the castle guards, and is met by a pan to the back of his head and is knocked unconscious, and is barred in a closet. Soon, a compromise between Rapunzel and her captive is made, as Flynn has to take the long-haired beauty to see the "floating lights" in order to get the crown back. And so, they set off on their journey. But there are problems along the way. Gothel finds out and tries to get her prize possession back, Flynn's cohorts in the crown theft desire to gain vengeance on him for his backstabbing ways, and the castle guards will do anything to get their hands on the thief as well. Will everything work out for the best? Hey, it's a fairytale. You should know by now how these things turn out (Here's a hint. It involves three little words).
But anyways, on to the aspects of the film. The acting and directing of the film are flawless, so I'm not going to waste too much time on either. I will say that Zachary Levi and Mandy Moore had the most believable chemistry I have seen in a movie in the past two or three years, which is a sad statement about live action films. I mean, c'mon! A computer animated film had a more believable burgeoning romance that most of your run of the mill rom-com's (Of course, the fact that they are "run-of-the-mill" may have something to do with that problem). Still, Moore and Levi are great, and no relationship on celluloid was as good over the past year (or two. maybe three). As Gothel, Donna Murphy was a very amusing. I found it very ironic when she kept telling Rapunzel that she was trying to protect the girl from those that would try to use her, when in fact she was the user the whole time. All of the other actors were very commendable. Brad Garret and Jeffrey Tambor were their usual funny selves, and Ron Perlman was once again perfect in his role as the Stabbington Brothers.
The musical aspect of the film was typical Disney. Whenever Disney rolls out an animated feature, you can be certain of songs. Many songs. But never too many. And all of the songs were rather catchy. I particularly liked "I've Got A Dream." It made me laugh, especially when the bearded old man was turned into Cupid. In short, the music was classic Disney.
Now comes the hard part. I find myself having a few small, minor, and yes, even nit-picky problems with the story and visuals. Oh I know what you're going to say before you even speak: ejk, what's the big deal? Well, when making comparisons to other films, one has to be fair and objective. With this in mind, here are my small, minor problems with Tangled.
For one, the story. Now, make no mistake, I love the story. The problem is that Tangled seems to borrow greatly from the Disney vault. The characters are blended versions of other Disney characters--Rapunzel is Aurora, Snow White, and Cinderella rolled into one. Flynn is Aladdin, Prince Eric, and even Gaston (here comes the smolder? a little arrogant? I think so). And of course, Gothel is a mixture of the evil Stepmother of Cinderella, the Wicked Queen of Snow White, and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. And who can forget the boat scene in Tangled? No one that has seen The Little Mermaid, that's for sure. Tangled's scene is almost an exact replica of the classic "Kiss The Girl" moment for Ariel. This is a trifle, I know, but it does downgrade the story a tad. A small tad. A tad barely visible to the naked eye. But a tad nonetheless.
As for the visuals, this problem may seem more unfair than my story one. The reason for this is simple: I'm comparing it to HTTYD, which I watched on Blu-Ray. Unfortunately, Tangled was only available on standard definition (although I did put it into the PS3 to bring the quality to its highest possible grade). So the comparison may not be fair, but I'm going to make it otherwise--if someone has seen Tangled on Blu-Ray, and wishes to call me on this, fine. I will look to find Tangled on Blu-Ray, and then, if I see a reason to, I will amend my statement of the visuals in a comment box below. But for now, I got to say that Tangled had great animation, but it did not spring to life in the manner that HTTYD did. Where HTTYD was the perfect illustration of the lushness of nature, Tangled was a notch below. I did not feel the traipsing through the forest was up to par with its competition, as I never felt that I was gazing at real life vegetation. I know that could sound trite, but it felt like a step down. Was it because HTTYD was Blu-Ray, and Tangled was not? Perhaps. The Blu-ray viewing of Tangled will tell the tale.
Now before I wind this up, let me clarify that the following: Tangled is brilliant. I found myself laughing more at Tangled than HTTYD, which is a plus in the column of the Disney flick. But there are some minor, very minor flaws within. Disney could have been a little more creative so as not to be as transparent in taking cues from their legendary films. Regardless, Disney has its first real winner (non Pixar, I mean) since Tarzan. However, in this debate over the best animated film of 2010, I am of the opinion that Tangled can only hope to place second.