(Family – 2010)
Disney has gone back to the basics
For its 50th animated feature Disney has gone back to the basics and adapted a familiar fairly tale, in this case “Rapunzel,” using a quick-witted script and terrific songs penned by veteran composer Alan Menken to produce another classic film of Magic Kingdom proportions. Oh, and some stunning animation along with a lavish 3-D treatment doesn’t hurt either.
The-kidnapped-as-an-infant Rapunzel, (superbly voiced by singer/actress Mandy Moore) is kept hidden away in a tall tower by the evil Mother Gothel (Tony Award-winning Donna Murphy giving the role lots of punch) who keeps the long- tressed child captive for the girl’s magical age-reversing locks.
Alas, our sequestered heroine pines for the outside world, especially for the opportunity to witness firsthand the village’s stunning floating light ceremony that appears to occur on her birthday each year. Trying to be obedient but determined to chase her dreams, Rapunzel makes a deal with handsome young thief Flynn Rider (a suitably high-spirited Zachary Levi from NBC’s “Chuck”) who will help her. And thus begins her journey of adventure and self-discovery.
The briskly efficient story features two of the most hilarious side characters in recent memory, the thankfully non-speaking Pascal the chameleon and Maximus, the palace horse, whose expertly drawn antics provide plenty of laugh out loud humor without stooping to low-brow slapstick.
Parents should also appreciate Rapunzel’s feisty but non-rebellious teenage spirit. She has enough smarts and moxie to keep Flynn in check (though romance is inevitable) and can wield a dangerous frying pan when threatened.
While the songs may not rival the classic soundtracks from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” or “Beauty and the Beast,” there are at least three show-stopping numbers, “I’ve Got a Dream,” “When Will My Life Begin,” and “Mother Knows Best,” that most assuredly will make an excellent transfer to the stage should Disney mount a live production.
This year has marked a particular bounty of animated films, including “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Toy Story 3,” “Despicable Me,” and “Megamind.” Disney’s latest offering, “Tangled,” adds to the high quality offerings and will make the coming awards season jam-packed with difficult choices.
Rated PG for brief mild violence.