The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



As Joan Rivers would say, can we talk? I thought the advertising for Tangled was terrible. Every time I saw the trailer - and, for some reason, I saw it a lot at local cinemas - I rolled my eyes. With its use of a Pink song, shots of a cutesy pet chameleon, and a self-possessed hero trying to win over our heroine by giving her "the smolder," this Disney spin on the Rapunzel tale looked like another animated movie trying way too hard to be hip. Matters weren't helped by reports that Walt Disney Pictures came up with the title because they didn't think boys would see a movie called Rapunzel. I'd be lying if I said that I was overly optimistic when I walked into the theater to see the entire movie.

Lo and behold, this is one of those cases where a trailer makes the feature look worse than it is. Tangled is a total delight that should please fans of classic Disney storytelling no matter what demographic they're in.

Mandy Moore provides the voice of Rapunzel, the girl with the long, magic hair capable of healing and providing extended youth. She spends her days locked in a tower, not realizing that her "mother" (Donna Murphy) actually kidnapped her from her real parents and is keeping her captive for the restorative power of that golden hair. Rapunzel gets an opportunity to experience freedom after a chance encounter with a thief named Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi). She strikes up a bargain whereby he will take her to see an annual display of floating lanterns and she will let him get away with a valuable artifact he has pilfered. A brief taste of the outside world convinces her that she should never go back, but her "mother" is determined to lock her away permanently.

A lot of things contribute to Tangled being a great movie. It has beautiful animation, funny jokes, cleverly designed musical numbers, and terrific supporting characters, most notably a rigidly law-abiding horse and a saloon full of not-as-tough-as-they-seem tough guys. There's a solid girl-power message, along with entertaining scenes of action and suspense.

Those are all crucial, but I want to focus on the single most important aspect: Tangled possesses that hard-to-define Disney magic. It's been years since any animated feature captured the patented Disney storytelling spirit the way this one does. I'm not sure I can put it into words, but if you've seen The Little Mermaid, Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, then you doubtlessly know what I mean. There's alchemy in a Disney classic. It's not just that the characters are lovable, it's that they're lovable in a certain irresistible way. It isn't just that well-known stories are imbued with charm, it's that the charm comes from the ingenuity with which they are told. It isn't simply that the tales warm your heart, it's that everything meshes together so perfectly as to create a feeling of all-encompassing bliss when you get to the end.

Yep, "magic" is the right word for it. Much has been said about how Pixar has eclipsed Disney in the computer-animated moviemaking department. That's true, but Tangled represents the first time that the studio has successfully implanted their classic style into the new technology. This feels like a Disney princess movie should.

So color me surprised. I walked in hoping (at best) for a tolerable viewing experience and came away having seen one of the sweetest, funniest, most winning movies of 2010. Win.

( out of four)

Note: Tangled is being shown in 3D, which is how I saw it. This is the latest in a series of animated movies that really didn't need to be in 3D. Not that the 3D isn't well done (it is) but the extra dimension is in no way vital to the telling of this story. Truth be told, I think 2D is the preferable way to go on this one.

Tangled is rated PG for brief mild violence. The running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.