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Tangled (2010)

Walt Disney's 2010 animated film based on the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel.

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In A Tale About Hair, Disney Finds Its Roots

  • Apr 10, 2011

Long-time readers (sufferers as the case may be) of my critical efforts may have noticed a certain pattern whereby I locate, for purpose of review, animated feature films so obscure that even the individuals responsible for their creation have long forgotten about them.  Usually (but not always), it isn’t very difficult for me to find fault in these works but alas, to insure the accuracy of my whole scale of judgment, I proudly visit the latest, greatest, high-budgeted, much hyped, talk-of-the-town animated pieces as well.

As such I think it’s safe to presume you’ve heard of Tangled prior to indulging in my evaluation but in case you have not, a brief refresher is in order: Tangled is Disney Studios’ computer-generated 2010 big budget retelling of the timeless German fairy tale Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm.

Tangled starts at the beginning and not just Rapunzel’s beginning but her mother’s.  It turns out the pregnant queen needs a bit of a miracle to overcome illness and that miracle comes in the form of a flower said to have come directly from the sun. 

With a droplet of the flower’s potency, the queen overcomes her affliction and gives birth to the baby Princess Rapunzel.  It turns out the flower’s amazing abilities not only cured the ill queen but found their way into the hair follicles of the yet unborn child.  Because of the young princess’ magical locks, one Mother Gothel kidnaps her from the palace under the veil of darkness.

Mother Gothel just so happens to know a thing or two about the flower's magical abilities and decides that she will stave off the effects of aging by locking Rapunzel in her hidden tower.

Fast-forward to a 17-year-old Rapunzel with hair over ten times longer than her body; tower ridden and utterly bored when a fleeing bandit by the name of Flynn Ryder takes refuge in her hidden crib.

Rapunzel works out a deal with the charming thief to act as her guide to the mysterious and perilous land beyond the tower and the adventure ensues the moment her bare feet feel the green grass of the meadow for the first time.

So now that we’re up to snuff on what Tangled is and how it came to be, the all-important question then centers on entertainment.  Does Tangled deliver in terms of amusement?  Absolutely and perhaps better still, it manages to do so with the first genuine signs of “classic Disney” sensibilities that have been largely absent since the industry started making the move from 2D drawn animation to computer generated 3D in the mid-1990s.

I could be mistaken of course, but it has long since been my assertion that a majority of the CG features thus far have been created by individuals so awed by the medium itself that what resulted were closer to showcases of the technology first and foremost with story-development taking the back seat.  A sort of “because we could doesn’t mean we should” mentality.

Of course there are exceptions to this trend, many of them in fact coming from the geniuses at Pixar (which has since become absorbed by Disney anyway) on account of the fact that they seemed to be oddly in tune with what kind of stories could lend themselves perfectly to the computer-generated world.

Disney, however, hasn’t been so successful.  Anyone who has witnessed earlier solo-efforts like Valliant, The Wild, Chicken Little or Bolt can attest to the fact that while passable, none of these films could even come close to mastering the art ala Pixar.  That brings us back to Tangled.  Rather than create another attempt to cut into the lucrative CG glory shared by Pixar, DreamWorks, Blue Sky and so on, Disney finally seems comfortable (or perhaps confident) enough to get back to telling a tale their way- medium be darned.

What results is the formula that has made countless prior Disney films ultra-successful: A slightly modernized take on a classic fairy tale, a musically laced prose (yes the characters break out into song quite frequently here), personified animals with just enough actuality left in tact to still be considered realistic, dashing heroes, perfectly timed comedic efforts, evil old ladies and just a touch of magic.  It’s all here- the precise recipe that has charmed fans for years across films like Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and to an extent even Aladdin.  This time however the clarity and attention to detail that can only be achieved via the technique of computer-generated textures factor in to aid the material rather than try to make-up for a lack thereof.

At 100-minutes, this film hints toward the marquee’s return to longer runtimes and comes feeling as though that is simply how long it takes to weave its tale (rather than rushed to completion or stretched out with filler).

The casting is, as is customary for a major Disney effort, spot-on with Mandy Moore doing a bang-up job as the title character and Zachary Levi is equally captivating as Ryder.  Additional props are due to Donna Murphy as Gothel.

I came into this piece a bit jaded from the onset, feeling as though the classic fairy tale retold through CG has been done to death.  Perhaps four Shreks, two Happily N’ever Afters, three Unstable Fables, one Pinocchio 3K and countless other attempts will do that to a critic.  However, I must confess to having been swept up in the revelry with Tangled right from the onset.  Truly Disney retains its throne in terms of mastery of facial animation techniques and the hair textures here are absolutely astonishing.

By going back to their roots and doing what they do best, Disney has (finally) notched its place in the computer animated feature film hierarchy and has done so without relying upon the Pixar co-brand to make it happen.  Sure John Lasseter’s name finds its way to the credits as Executive Producer, it’s undeniably apparent that this was a Disney piece through and through.  I like to think that had this one been released back in the 2D era it would have gone by the simple title “Rapunzel” but if we have to try to isolate Pixar’s influence on the project in some capacity, surly they had to have come up with the hip title.  Ironic when you stop to consider that from a puritan perspective, this is Disney’s most untangled computer-generated piece to date.

A Tale About Long Hair Helps Disney Find Its Roots A Tale About Long Hair Helps Disney Find Its Roots A Tale About Long Hair Helps Disney Find Its Roots A Tale About Long Hair Helps Disney Find Its Roots

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July 15, 2011
I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I hadn't seen a decent Disney fairy tale film in ages, so it's nice to see them embrace their storytelling past again while still having a certain hip, modern twist, so that teens and adults don't get bored.
July 16, 2011
Thanks for the feedback Sean, feel exactly the same way!
April 13, 2011
Yeah this was a good one for sure, loved the chameleon and the horse.
April 13, 2011
Hahah that horse was great! Thanks FM_A!
April 10, 2011
aaahhh....finally!! I had mixed feelings about this one. I guess I am just not into musical numbers and I dunno...maybe I need to rewatch it one day. Great review, Jay! I do agree that it is a welcome return to Disney sensibilities.
April 10, 2011
Ya know I have felt like Disney really lost its way of late.. The only thing really worth checking out of theirs wore the Pixar label and even then it was tainted by a back story of corporate bullying and dictatorship. I finally came away from one of their CG pieces feeling like they may have remembered what made their entries in the 2D arena so timeless. And like always, I had to deliberately steer clear of your review prior to publishing this, you have a way of bending me to your will, Will. Guess it comes with such solid reviews! Thanks again buddy.
April 10, 2011
I know what you mean. Sometimes I feel that Disney seems to have succumbed to the pressures of what is seen as "hip". I am with you about Pixar; I like them but sometimes they try too hard and yet they never fulfill their goals. have you seen the Disney 2D piece Princess and the Frog?
April 10, 2011
Great write-up, J! I almost ordered it through OnDemand but, was going to wait until my niece was here, so it wouldn't be a total waste of time. But, I'm glad to know that it's as good as it looks in the trailers.
April 10, 2011
Yes, I definitely recommend giving it a go Ms. Evoke- I did my best to remain level-headed, jaded and just generally old-man-ish but still came away with a few new laugh lines and a suspicion that the Diz is getting back on track after about 15-years of aimlessness. Let me know what you think! :)
More Tangled reviews
review by . November 25, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
An Intended
It has been quite a long time since I’ve seen a Disney movie in theaters. As far as I remember the last great Disney movie I’ve seen in cinemas was “The Lion King” and the rest of Disney’s outings such as “Mulan” and “Pocahantas” I’ve only seen on video. Well, seeing as I was convinced by a friend to see a more light-hearted fare this week, I agreed to see “TANGLED”. It is the 50th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated …
review by . April 12, 2011
posted in Awesomeness
Much like a Disney bluebird, another $10 flutters away from my wallet, serial numbers flapping while Alexander Hilton stares out at me coldly. Tangled is a triple-threat to my attention span, simultaneously making me sleepy, itchy and a little hungry during the middle. The tap-tap-tap sound you can hear is another nail being driven in the coffin containing my terminally ill love for the movie industry.      On the positive side, nobody can accuse Mandy Moore of mumbling. Cranking …
review by . March 18, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Summer is around the corner, let's get those hair out of the way!
It's a typical Disney film and you can expect all that you can expect out of a Disney film.    Tangled is the 21st century Rapunzel and if you've not read the outline of the story, then it's a highly enjoyable film. I watched this on my 2nd half of my 5 hour flight from Singapore to Shanghai last night, after spending an enjoyable first half on Love and Other Drugs. Despite the harsh reality of the first half of my journey, the 2nd half was a lot lighter and still pretty …
review by . January 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
After a stint of about two decades, wherein fans of the old Disney movies nostalgically lamented the gradual decline of Disney, the studio which once brought us such classics as Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast appears to have kicked its mojo back into gear with its latest feature, Tangled. The computer-animated film, based on the well-known German fairy tale “Rapunzel,” follows Disney’s tried and true formula -- and lo’ and behold, the recipe still produces magic. Tangled …
review by . February 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
In the late 80's Disney put out The Little Mermaid.  The film more or less established a formula for Disney that they pretty much kept running with through the 90's.  You take a simple existing story or fairy tale or myth... you make it kid friendly (none of these Disney classics really followed the original tales that particularly well) and then you add in a few songs and a love story of some sort.  This made Disney films like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast …
review by . May 01, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     Disney has always had a reputation, which is the same for me or anyone else really, that has me wondering what they'll cook up next. They always have something on the stove; something good, and sometimes even great. Now, you can't have a good animated film just by having good animation; you need something more. "Tangled" is an animated feature that adds a clever little ingredient, giving it a nice taste, thus bringing it from the potential "animated, goofy …
review by . January 07, 2011
I was not terribly enthusiastic about seeing TANGLED, and in fact, I didn't see it for several weeks. But a slow Sunday afternoon came around, and having seen pretty much everything elseā€¦I was coaxed into attending. And now the film is on my Top 10 for 2010 list!    This is a Disney picture, with the graphic sensibilities of a Pixar film. I know the two companies are allied, but what I mean is this: Pixar has had the corner on smart, modern looking, genre-twisting films. Nary …
review by . January 22, 2011
Tangled is another attempt to get back to the classic disney formula of stunning visuals accompanied by sweeping snarky coming-of-age romances and great musical numbers, and may I say they definitely succeeded. This is far from Disney's best movie, but definitely not their worst. Plus, for me its currently tied with Meet the Robinsons for best non-pixar disney CGI movie. This is also quite a different type of princess movie, it being sort of an adventure movie as well. Despite princessdom being …
review by . January 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Just A Few Strands Of Magic Weaved Into
Tangled hit screens in 2010 with much hullabaloo.  It is the fiftieth animated film produced by Disney Studios.  It is also at the center of a title controversy spinning around in Mickey land.  The film was originally entitled Rapunzel Unbraided and then just plain old Rapunzel, but that was changed once more to Tangled for reasons that differ depending on whom you ask.  Personally, I believe the change was made in an effort to expand the film's demographic outreach, …
review by . May 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
PG - 100mins - Animation/Comedy/Family - 28th January 2011 It has been well over 10 years since the Walt Disney Animation Studios branch of Disney has had anything to shout home about as they have struggled to live up to their past successes (Lion King, Aladdin all the way back to Snow White in 1937) and compete with the modern animations of it’s sister company Disney Pixar. Tangled is based on the Brothers Grimm story of Rapunzel (the film’s title was only changed from Rapunzel shortly …
About the reviewer
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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About this movie


is an upcoming 2010 American 3D animated musical film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and starring the voices of Mandy Mooreand Zachary Levi. It will be the 50th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, planned for release on November 24, 2010, the day before Thanksgiving. The story is largely based on the classic German fairy tale Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm.
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Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Release Date: November 24, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Dan Fogelman
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
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