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Review: Tangled (2010)

Tangled (2010)

Directed by: Nathan Greno and Byron Howard

Premise: An animated reworking of the Rapunzel fairy tale. A thief (voice of Zachary Levi) discovers Rapunzel (voice of Mandy Moore) and agrees to escort her to the city.

What Works: The physical comedy of Tangled is very funny and keeps laughs coming at a steady pace. The animation is also impressive. It combines the fluidity and sophistication of computer animation with the texture and character commonly associated with stop motion, and together these qualities give the characters and the setting a unique look.

What Doesn’t: Tangled shows a lot of influence from the original Shrek but it lacks the intelligence or storytelling excellence of that film. Tangled is unclear if it is trying to self-consciously send up the fantasy world or be play it straight; some of the scenes present the fantasy world as a credible place but other scenes make it look silly and the shifts in tone undermine the integrity of Tangled’s fantasy world. A similar problem occurs in the design of the characters. Although the look of the film is unique, the characters are not particularly expressive. The female characters are especially creepy looking, with eyes so disproportionally oversized that in some scenes the women look like extraterrestrials. One of the more surprising let downs of Tangled is its music. The songs are very uninspired, a surprise given that accomplished composer Alan Menken is behind them. But like its problems with design of the story world, Tangled never commits to the music, slipping into a song here and there but never delivering the kinds of musical numbers that Disney’s animated films have showcased in the past. 

Bottom Line: Tangled is an average animated film. It aspires to be Shrek but it does not have the intelligence of that film, nor does it demonstrate conviction in its own vision. Youngsters may enjoy it but this is not a memorable film.

Episode: #320 (December 26, 2010)