|Disney seems to have the ability to constantly reuse their old fashioned formula of the princess in trouble who meets up with a handsome prince/regular guy and as a result learns plenty of important life lessons while coming out on top. “Tangled” is no different though they have “modernized” it a touch. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it they say and Disney has certainly taken that to heart.
Rapunzel (Mandy Moore – A Walk to Remember, The Princess Diaries) has spent the first 18 years of her life up in a tower. The young flaxen-haired girl lives alone with her Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy – Spider-Man 2, The Fountain) with her chameleon Pascal as her only companion. It is a lonely existence for a young girl.
She is kept up in the tower by her mother, who claims that the world outside is a dangerous place for someone like Rapunzel. See Rapunzel’s hair is not only blonde, but it is magical as it has healing powers. Gothel tells Rapunzel that if people on the outside knew about her hair they would do anything to get their hands on its power.
The truth is that Gothel is the one who is using Rapunzel’s hair for her own benefit as its powers keep her eternally youthful. On top of that she is not really Rapunzel’s mother; Gothel is actually an old woman who found a flower that had healing/eternal youth powers. She kept it hidden away from everyone.
Eighteen years ago when the Queen was pregnant she fell ill and the King, desperate to save her and his unborn child, sent his soldiers out to look for the flower. They find it and bring it back to the palace and the Queen is saved. She gave birth to a beautiful blonde girl, who was the apple of her parents’ eyes. Gothel, angry that the flower was taken, exacts her revenge on the King and Queen by kidnapping the princess in the middle of the night. Gothel, after hiding the princess in a secluded tower, is restored to her youthful self and raises the child as if it was her own. Due to the powers of Rapunzel’s hair her mother Gothel warns her against allowing it to be cut as it then turns brown and loses its power. Her hair grows to an extremely long length.
Rapunzel has always wanted to see the lights in the sky that appear on her birthday in person, but her mother forbids it. On the eve of her 18th birthday, Rapunzel schemes to get her mother away from the tower for three days and plans to go and see the lights herself. A monkey wrench is thrown into her plans when a young stranger arrives at the tower. After knocking the bandit out, hiding his satchel that contains the princess’s crown that he has stolen and tying him to a chair with her hair, Rapunzel makes a deal with Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi – from television’s Chuck) that she will return the satchel and crown to him if he takes her to see the lights in the sky. She is now going to venture out into the world outside her tower to find out what it is really like.
Loosely based on the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale, Rapunzel, this story has been completely Disneyfied. There is the beautiful, if a little naïve princess, the handsome prince/young man, the evil witch/mother, and the cute animal friend/chameleon. This has been a winning formula for Disney for decades now. Young girls have lapped this stuff up for generations. Rapunzel will be another princess that they will want to dress up like.
Disney has decided to go Broadway musical with the music in this one. Songs like the one sung by Mother Gothel “Mama Knows Best” would be very comfortable performed on a Broadway stage. Though I do love a good Broadway musical I am disappointed to say that none of the music really reached out and grabbed me. There is no big hit like there was in “Beauty and the Beast” or “The Lion King”.
The animals, Pascal and the doglike horse named Maximus, are very entertaining and funny. Almost more so than the human characters. This is also typical of Disney.
“Tangled” will do well with families with young girls/princess wannabes. It is not a great film, but it has the look and feel of what has been typically successful for Disney for many years and I don’t expect that to change with this one.
-2 original storybook openings
– The Making of a Fairy Tale