tek's rating: ½

Tangled (PG)
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Caution: spoilers.

This 2010 movie is loosely based on the fairy tale "Rapunzel." It starts out with some narration from a character named Flynn Rider, who explains that there was a flower with healing power... and then there was this beloved queen who was very sick, while about to give birth. People scoured the area for the healing flower to save the queen's life, but it was hidden away by an old woman named Gothel, who had been using it for centuries to restore her youth, by singing a little song to it. But then the flower was found and used to save the queen's life, and apparently the healing power then ended up in the hair of her newborn baby girl, Rapunzel. So Gothel kidnapped her, and kept her in a tower, where she raised her as her own, and used the power to continue keeping herself young. As Rapunzel grew up, she longed to see the outside world in person, instead of just through her window, but Gothel always told her what a dangerous place the world was and how evil everyone was, and that she was keeping Rapunzel in the tower for her safety. Still, every year on her birthday, there were thousands of paper lanterns that the people of the kingdom set floating up into the air, in honor of the lost princess, and Rapunzel wanted to someday find out what the lights she saw from her window actually were. Meanwhile, her hair continued growing longer, because Gothel had discovered that if it was cut, it would lose its power. Anyway, the main part of the movie is set when Rapunzel turns 18, by which point her hair was, of course, incredibly long; which let her use it in a fun way, in her first song and dance number... I could almost imagine someone like Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly using it as a prop, though I'm sure it wouldn't behave as well in reality as it does in animation. Also it wouldn't look nearly as good on them. Actually, there are any number of uses for her hair. Gothel uses Rapunzel's hair as a sort of harness to get up and down from the tower (which made me wonder how she got in and out of the tower when Rapunzel was younger, but as I suspected, this was revealed before too long). Oh, btw, I should also mention that Rapunzel's only friend is a chameleon named Pascal. (He doesn't talk or anything, though he does seem to have the kind of personality that even non-anthropomorphized animals only have in movies likes this.)

Anyway, back to Flynn. He and a couple of guys called the Stabbington brothers steal a crown from the castle, and are pursued by palace guards. Flynn is an amusing and dashing kinda guy (who kinda puts me in mind of Errol Flynn at times; and of Nathan Fillion at others), but still... there's no honor among thieves, it seems, and he leaves his cohorts behind to escape the guards. He manages to knock the captain of the guards off his horse, Maximus, but Maximus refuses to let Flynn ride him, and tries to retrieve the satchel containing the stolen crown. There's an amusing if totally unrealistic struggle between horse and man, and when Flynn is trying to hide from Maximus, he ends up finding Rapunzel's tower and climbing up it... where he's promptly knocked out with a frying pan by Rapunzel, who's freaked out to meet her first person ever, aside from Gothel. She hides him in a wardrobe, planning to show him to Gothel, to prove she's strong enough to go out on her own. But before she can reveal the presence of the still unconscious man, Gothel makes it very clear that Rapunzel will never leave. So instead of telling her about the man, Rapunzel asks for a birthday gift that will take Gothel a few days' travel to obtain. I should mention... we also get to see Rapunzel use her hair as a tool or weapon in ways that put me in mind of The Cape. When he wakes up, she offers Flynn a deal: she'll return his satchel if he takes her to see the lanterns.

So, they set off together, with Rapunzel swinging between unbridled joy at being out of the tower for the first time, guilt over disobeying her "mother," and abject fear of the warnings she's heard all her life about the world's dangers turning out to be true. Meanwhile, they end up being pursued by the guards, by Maximus, by Gothel (who returned early and found Rapunzel missing), and by the Stabbington brothers. But of course, Rapunzel's hair frequently comes in handy, as does that surprisingly useful frying pan. Eventually Gothel teams up with the Stabbingtons to enact some scheme she comes up with. And Maximus (whose personality is more like a dog than a horse) eventually catches up with Flynn and Rapunzel (who he comes to like; though it takes longer for him to start getting along with Flynn).

Well, I don't want to reveal any more of the plot. But I must say, the movie's actually really funny and fun. Most of the songs aren't exactly memorable, but I found them quite pleasant and they fit their scenes fairly well. Particularly fitting and well done was a song by Gothel, which had a very Broadway feel to it, which isn't surprising given that she's voiced by stage actress Donna Murphy. Oh, and the song by the ruffians in the Snuggly Duckling tavern was ridiculously funny. Other than that the songs were mostly rather breezy (with perhaps a subtle hint of melancholy), which is what they should be. And the animation in general is gorgeous. Also I think Rapunzel's a neat character, with a lot of the same qualities I've always loved in other Disney heroines, but quirkier. The whole movie's pretty quirky, actually. And I like quirky. The main characters were all pretty good, in their own ways. I definitely liked Flynn's occasional sense of how absurd the whole situation was. Anyway... yeah. Gorgeous animation, pleasant music, fun characters, fun humor, fun derring-do, sweet (and nicely underplayed) romance, some actual scariness and sadness, a few twists I didn't quite see coming, and ultimately a happy ending. What more can you ask for? Nothing, that's what.

The movie was followed in 2012 by a short film called Tangled Ever After, and in 2017 by "Tangled: The Series," which takes place between the movie and the short. Unfortunately, I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to see the series.

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