December 01, 2010

MOVIES: Tangled (Nathan Greno & Byron Howard, 2010)

An absolute delight. For their 50th animated feature, Disney has added a few new characters and plot details to the Rapunzel story, and they've created a lively and exciting adventure.

The major new character is Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachary Levi, so solidly in heroic mode that I wouldn't have recognized him from TV's Chuck), a charming rogue who is on the run from the king's men when he stumbles across Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) in the tower where she has been held prisoner since birth by Gothel (Donna Murphy, hamming it up in the grand tradition of Disney villains). Rapunzel is turning 18 and longs to see the world, and blackmails Flynn into helping her escape from Gothel's tower.

So Flynn's on the run from the law (and from his fellow thieves, whom he has doublecrossed) and Rapunzel's on the run from Gothel, and they will naturally save each other's bacon several times on the way to falling in love and the inevitable happy ending.

Along the way, there are some catchy songs -- a barroom number in which assorted thugs and goons sing about their unlikely dreams is the highlight, much in the tradition of "Under the Sea" or "Be Our Guest" -- and some beautiful animation, culminating in a scene featuring hundreds of glowing lanterns floating through the air, which is among the most gorgeous images Disney has ever given us. The voice performances are very good; the singing from pop star Moore and Broadway star Murphy isn't surprising, but I don't think we've ever heard Levi sing before, and he holds his own quite well.

Tangled isn't at the level of the best Pixar films, but it's the best thing to come out of Disney since The Lion King.

No comments: