From the trailer I saw (the one above is better), I expected Tangled to be pretty lightweight, but to my surprise it’s quite good, the best thing from Disney’s animation division I’ve seen in years, possibly decades.
This is not Disney’s first computer-animated feature (that was Chicken Little, I believe), but it is the first such in Disney’s flagship series of musicals about fairy-tale heroines. (It’s also Disney’s 50th animated feature.)
For once in a Disney fairy tale adaptation, the hero is as interesting and well-realized a character as the heroine. (You could perhaps say of Beauty and the Beast as well, but the Beast was rather morose, and this guy is a lot more fun.)
The basic story is that of Rapunzel, the long-haired young lady imprisoned in a tower by a witch pretending to be her mother. In the original, Rapunzel was the offspring of the witch’s neighbors, but here she’s the daughter of a king and queen, taken from them while still an infant.
Every year her royal parents commemorate her birthday by releasing paper lanterns that float up into the sky like hot-air balloons. To Rapunzel they look like mysteriously moving stars, and she wants to go and see what they are. The witch, of course, refuses to let her leave the tower, telling her the world is far too awful and dangerous a place. But when a thief shows up, having discovered the tower by accident, Rapunzel hides his loot and refuses to give it back until he agrees to help her on her quest to see her birthday stars.
There ensue all manner of adventure and derring-do, not to mention scenes that are hilarious and others quite touching.
In keeping with the tradition, there are a couple of animal characters with human-like personalities, but here they don’t have the power of speech, so there are no crabs singing songs about the Washington Metro (“Under D.C.”).