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Disneys Tangled is terrific

December 14, 2010

“Someday,” sang Snow White back in 1937, “my prince will come.” And he did.

So did dozens of others in the decades since “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” Walt Disney’s first animated feature film. Princes (and princesses) became characters, or character types, around which many a Disney tale would be spun.

“Tangled,” Disney’s latest, is a retooling of the Grimm’s fairytale about Rapunzel, the imprisoned maiden with the long, long golden hair. In this case, the tremendously tressed damsel is a missing princess from a nearby kingdom, kidnapped as an infant and raised by a wicked stepmother as her own in an isolated tower. The sinister stepmom wants to keep Rapunzel, and her hair, a secret from the rest of the world.

And for good reason: There’s some mega magical mojo in those cascading locks.

When a handsome young thief, Flynn, stumbles upon her fortress prison, Rapunzel, now a teenager, finds her prince charming---and her ticket to a life-changing adventure beyond the confines of the tower.

“Tangled” is Disney’s 50th animated movie. And it lives up to the milestone in almost every way. Time will tell, but it has all the hallmarks of a Disney classic in the vein of some of the company’s other generation-spanning, pop-cultural cornerstones.

The animation is sumptuous, and several scenes are real dazzlers, including a heart-pounding chase through an abandoned mineshaft that becomes a watery tomb, and a heart-meltingly lovely romantic segment against a backdrop of a twilight sky filled with thousands of floating, airborne paper lanterns.

The musical numbers are all standouts, so perhaps it’s not surprising to find out they were penned by Alan Menken, the veteran tunesmith behind the memorable soundtrack tunes of “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin.”

You’ll find it difficult to stifle a smile during “I’ve Got a Dream,” the catchy song-and-dance number set in a forest tavern---a folktale biker bar---full of colorful rogues, bruisers and hooligans. You’ll want to hiss at the duplicitous stepmother, Gothel (a terrific Donna Murphy). And don’t be surprised to find your own eyes getting moist as you watch the tears well in the gorgeous, oversized green orbs of Rapunzel, whose voice is provided by pop powerhouse Mandy Moore.

A young up-and-coming TV and movie actor, Zachary Levi, gives the good-guy bandit Flynn a speaking voice to match the character’s dashing looks. But two characters without a single spoken line between them, Max the horse and Pascal the chameleon, provide a lion’s share of the laughs.

This is the rare “family” film that the entire family can truly appreciate, and enjoy. The latest jewel in the Disney crown will make you believe all over again in the magic of a strong story, splendid songs, and princes and princesses who come to rousing, emotional, heartwarming life through the wizardry of well-done animation.

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