This week feels like a perfect storm of Disney entertainment. DVDs that include three exceptional Disney history documentaries and the Blu-Ray release of the Fantasia films. Epic Mickey, easily the most eagerly anticipated Disney-related video game in history. And finally Tangled, a modest little film that appears to be returning both critical and commercial success to the Disney-branded animated feature category.
Forget long gestating (and often-media-generated) negative expectations. Forget Disney's over saturation of the Princess brand. Forget about an extended and sometimes troubled development and production history. And more than anything, forget about the lousy, marketing-driven title change that ranks right up there with The Great Mouse Detective. Just walk into the theater, take your seat, and simply enjoy Tangled for what it is: a visually stunning, cleverly written and eminently fun and entertaining animated film.
To be very honest, I nearly fell victim to some of the issues I cited above. A hopeful curiosity, combined with numerous enthusiastic reviews, ultimately drove me to my local multiplex when I normally would have been patient to wait a few months for the DVD release. It was well worth the trip.
Tangled breaks no significant new ground beyond being Disney's first CG-animated fairy tale, but frankly it has become quite tiresome that many animation pundits place generally undefined and intangible expectations upon new Disney animated features. With this interpretation of the classic Rapunzel tale, I was pleasantly surprised by a clever script, snappy dialog and beautiful designs which, despite being computer-generated, remain visually true to many of the studio's earlier fairy tales. Although the score provides no real showstoppers, the film's songs are integrated seamlessly and effectively into the storytelling process.
What I enjoyed the most about Tangled were its well-realized and engaging characters. Rapunzel does seem to channel Arial by way of her curiosity and rebelliousness, but still manages to come across as distinct and in many ways quite unique. Flynn Ryder is definitely a Disney fairy tale original; more adventurous rogue than heroic prince. It's rare that a male lead in a princess-centric tale is infused with this much personality and it's a refreshing change of pace. Supporting players Max the horse and Pascal the chameleon are very well conceived. Together they are responsible for many of the film's best comedic moments, but often by way of more subtle and understated gestures and expressions. The ongoing interactions between Flynn and Max are especially humorous and entertaining.
Despite its unfortunate and ill-advised title, Tangled is indeed a welcome addition to the Disney animated feature film library. Take a look if you haven't already.