Disney’s stable of animated princesses are a very big deal, both financially and culturally. Trust me, as the father of a 4-year-old girl, I consider myself as an expert on the subject.
Just step into my daughter’s room and you’ll be subjected to a 360-degree visual assault by the likes of Cinderella, the Little Mermaid and Sleeping Beauty – just to name a few.
Therefore, it’s easy to be cynical when Disney trots out a new princess and figure it to be nothing more than yet another cash-grab, suckering doting grandparents into buying even more lunchboxes, sleeping bags, playhouses, etc.
These are the things you think about when you are a parent, as it is easy to forget that many of these beloved princesses came from some high-quality, iconic films.
This is why I should not have been surprised in the least when “Tangled,” Disney’s take on the classic Rapunzel fairy tale, turned out to be an enjoyable, cute and effective little movie.
Now sure, you’ll see this doe-eyed, long, long, long, long-haired blond princess staring back at you from any number of toothpastes, breakfast cereals, brake pads, etc., but the source should be praised as a fantastic family film.
“Tangled” is reminiscent of the successful run of movies Disney made in the early 1990s and would fit right in with those films which included “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and “The Lion King.”
This movie also marks the first time Disney’s traditional large-eyed animation style has been brought to life by computer animation.
The plot is pretty standard and adheres to the patented Disney formula. Princess Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is born with hair that has magical healing powers, but turns brunette and rather useless when cut. I guess blondes really do have more fun.
Anyway, Rapunzel is stolen away as a baby by an old crone (Donna Murphy) who uses the girl’s magical locks to stay forever young and beautiful. Our villainess raises the child as her own, locking Rapunzel in a high tower “for her own protection.” Generations of teenage girls can instantly relate.
In order to retain its powers, Rapunzel’s hair grows impossibly long; which proves to be both troublesome and handy, depending on whatever the plot demands.
As you would expect, Rapunzel longs for the outside world with only her pet chameleon (why not?) to keep her company. Complications arise when a dashing young thief named Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi of TV’s “Chuck”) happens upon the girl’s tower.
Rapunzel coerces Flynn to show her the world outside of her tower, much to the chagrin of her adoptive mother who races to bring the girl back before she can discover her true identity.
This movie comes perfectly packaged with inspirational morals, romance, a slew of Broadway-worthy songs and lots of comic relief – most of which is thanks to Levi’s quick-tongued delivery and a band of soft-hearted barbarians.
There is a lot to like about this charming little movie, including some impressive visuals; most notably a scene featuring a boat ride and thousands of floating lanterns.
Look, there’s nothing revolutionary or mind-blowing about “Tangled.” In fact, what makes it great is how unoriginal it is. This is tried-and-true moviemaking and Disney doing what they do best.
That may not mean a lot to we cranky, old movie critics; but to four-year-olds of all ages it is pure, unadulterated magic.
“Tangled” is rated PG for brief mild violence.
▲ Mat DeKinder (firstname.lastname@example.org) was once described by a guy named Nate as “the Jackie Moon of film critics.” He appears courtesy of Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis.