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Rumours that Tangled (2010) represented a return to form by Disney have been swirling since it’s release, but I was pessimistic and decided that the gossip was nothing more than good promotion and over hype. On top of that I figured that an animated musical had little or nothing to offer an old timer such as myself and my time would be better spent watching something gritty and adult.
So when my ladyfriend slipped the DVD into the machine and told me under no uncertain terms that this was her film choice of the evening, I was seriously considering faking my own death and moving to Mexico.
I was wrong and I was stupid. Tangled is visually stunning, cleverly written and laugh out loud funny. Not only is it the best Disney offering since The Lion King (1994) it is one of the all time best of the genre.
Most people will be aware of the story of innocent waif Rapunzel. The girl with the long hair locked in the tower by a wicked witch and rescued by a handsome prince. There have many versions of the tale over the years; in the original she’s twelve and becomes pregnant, and I can understand why Uncle Walts studio made the decision not to go down that road but basically, it’s a very simple story. Probably too simple, which is why Disney had not tackled the story before screenwriter Dan Fogelman (Cars (2006), Bolt (2008)) delivered them this gem of a script.
The innocent Rapunzel is now a feisty and capable force to be reckoned with. The handsome prince, a morally ambiguous thief and the addition of a stubborn palace horse, a cute chameleon and a band of soft centred barbarians all add richness and depth that would have been lacking in a straight up retelling.
It could be argued that the songs are not as strong as the classic Disney musicals and the only memorable tune is the hilarious ‘I’ve got a dream’ but the Tangled team seem to be aware of that and so they use the songs sparingly.
Toy Story 3 (2010) took most of the glory last year and although that was a fine film, for me, Tangled has that extra sprinkle of fairy dust. It harks back to a time before Pixar blending CGI with the traditional hand-drawn. This gives the film a fluidity, warmth and vibrancy that is often lacking in modern animation.
I confess that since I watched it I’ve been hitting you tube and watching scenes from The Little Mermaid (1989), Aladdin (1992), The Jungle Book (1967) et al and the highest praise I can give to Tangled is that it’s inspired me to drop a bit of cynicism and pretension and reignite my dormant love of Disney.
Sure the movies are sugary, sentimental and idealistic, but what’s wrong with that? I’d rather spend a couple of hours being blasted with sweetness then enduring the nasty faux-art of A Serbian Film (2010) or trash of that ilk and if you are a dark and twisted soul who would rather pierce their own genitals with hot needles, then give Tangled a try, as you are missing out indeed because Disney is back and looking better than ever.