The Disney Animated Classics seem to go through cycles of good and bad, with a few good ones (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King, The Emperor’s New Groove and Lilo & Stitch, etc.) padded out by a bunch of forgettable fluff (The Great Mouse Detective, Oliver & Company, Dinosaur, Home on the Range, etc.) With Tangled, the 50th animated feature in the series, Disney’s at the top of its game again – the fairy tale game, that is – with an update on the Rapunzel story. Not that The Princess and the Frog was bad, it’s just that this is better.
It’s hard not to think that Pixar‘s had a very positive influence on Disney since they were “acquired” back in 2006. Starting with Meet The Robinsons (which would have been in preproduction at the time the Pixar crew came onboard), each subsequent film has improved on the last.
This movie just reeks of classic Disney – and I mean that as a compliment. Maybe they rediscovered what it means to be a Disney movie from making the self-parodying Enchanted, but from the animation style to the zany characters, you can’t help but remember back to the good old days. At one stage, I swear I was watching a new Aladdin. Almost.
The musical numbers, although written by the legendary Alan Menken, aren’t especially memorable or catchy. Oh, and Rapunzel’s and her “mom’s” huuuuuuuuumongous eyes. Oh. My. God. Seriously, she’s very pretty in that Disney Princess kinda way, but man if her eyes were any bigger you could literally drown in them (especially if this ever comes out in IMAX). If you’re not a fan of anime-style googlies, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Other than that, Rapunz… er, I mean the artwork… is exquisitely beautiful and a delight to look at. The makers spent an obscene amount of money (it’s either the 2nd or 5th most expensive film ever made depending on which way you choose to fudge the numbers) making Tangled look like it was drawn/painted despite being computer generated 3D.
It’s the usual love found, betrayed, lost, redeemed and restored cycle but of course don’t get too hung up on the simplistic plot, remembering that this is a kids movie. It’s great how Disney has made something that appeals to all ages without relying on parading its street smarts and adding sly “nudge-nudge-wink-wink” jokes for the grown-ups. still, one little thing niggled: at the start of the movie an old woman discovers a magic flower and keeps it secretly to herself by hiding it and tending it so that it would keep her young forever. But when the royal family discovers the flower, they kill it to save the Queen. So the woman was a little selfish maybe, but the royal family was outright neglectful. Disney won’t exactly win over environmentalists with that one.
My faith in Disney is restored, even though it’s likely to be the peak of this cycle considering that the 51st feature will be another Winnie the Pooh movie. As it is, Tangled is a great film to mark a major milestone in this chapter of Disney’s history.