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There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Tangled


1 hr. 40 min.
Walt Disney Pictures
Written By: Jacob Grimm, 
Wilhelm Grimm, Dan Fogelman

Mandy Moore 
Zachary Levi 
(Flynn Rider) 
Donna Murphy 
(Mother Gothel)

Disney once again recognizes a mother load of marketing with yet another princess story. And yet, it’s one of the more effective ones they have ever done, so I suppose that princesses do have their place. Eh-hem. Like most of the better animated movies these days, there is a nice mix of action and romance that precludes the interest in any 3-D effects that, here in this installment, take a back seat and really do little more than cost you more to go to the movie theater. 

Taking huge liberties with the original story of Rapunzel, even to the point of naming the movie Tangled instead of Rapunzel for the marketing advantage, Rapunzel this time has science and psychology on her side. Both provide her with glowing, regenerative powered hair and also “Freudian” insight. Rapunzel is of course kidnapped by the evil old woman who wants to be young forever by using the magic of Rapunzel’s hair to maintain a “Dorian Gray” type existence of eternal youth by keeping the young girl trapped in their tower home. Rapunzel believes the old woman is her mother, and mom knows what is best for her, and of course since she is a good girl, she gives in to the direction of mom despite her own misgivings. Her misgivings are rightfully realized if you ask me. The old woman is concerned with keeping young forever despite the absence of any real reason to do so, and that is just one of the problems with the whole concept. Just ask yourself why Rapunzel herself gets any older at all, shouldn’t she always be an infant? At one point we are also shown how when Rapunzel’s hair gets cut off from the source (her head) that the hair turns brown, but the same thing happens later when  her whole head of hair turns brown after a bobbing. But hey, it’s just an old fairy tale turned into a cartoon right? Okay then.

Rapunzel has Freudian impulses that work on her subconscious and reveal themselves in the paintings she makes on the wall. She is strangely attracted to the lanterns that float towards the sky each year on her birthday, and she wishes on her 18th to go and see the lanterns in person. Later in the movie we are treated to a moment that would not have been seen in the original fairy tale in its own day, because of the social impact psychology has had on society, regardless of its true level of effectiveness on mankind. The scene is a sort of mental “domino effect” where random pieces of Rapunzel’s emotional memory all fall together and infuse her with a sort of confidence that only comes with epiphany moments. I liked the scene, and understood it experientially, but I don’t think movie goers would have seen this sort of thing if  movies were produced in the 1800’s. This is a totally modern paradigm.

With the help of “bad boy” Flynn, who while escaping the law stows away in the tower of Rapunzel’s captivity, she flees her ivory tower of protection, and then the psychology kicks in again as she goes bipolar with regret at being a bad daughter for disobeying mom and also feeling the elation of independent freedom. This is real enough I suppose, but its concentration is something more fit for modern audiences, and I do suppose they are indeed the movie going public now aren’t they? 

Flynn and Rapunzel prove mom was right about the dangers of the world as they meet some real threats out in the forest that lead to chases and “fun” conflict. Rapunzel gets to use her hair like Spider Man uses webs (and Rudolf the Reindeer uses his nose) and this helps in some very conducive ways to move along the entertaining plot. She is also pretty deft with a frying pan, and may have invented a new style of battle in contrast to the sword and shield bearing soldiers and thugs that are met along the way. Frying pans: who knew?

In many ways, both in writing, visual production and acting direction, a Disney movie can be tough to beat. Having seen this movie on the same weekend as the competition, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, it was blatantly obvious just what modern audiences are more attuned to in the sense of what makes a superior entertainment experience, and I have to say, Disney really is “plugged in” to its market. Tangled has so much more of an accessible cache for a movie going public, that it will of course make more profit that its competitor, and Disney knows this. They have the better judgement on what will and what will not make a boat load of cash, and not by pandering, but by excellence and connectivity to the market.   

The 3-D effects are nice, but as I have said before, not really needed or reflective of the need  for a higher price. It is the performances and the writing, plus the lush animation that make Tangled a real value for the money. Donna Murphy is a real stand out in her performance as the evil “mother” and there should be some sort of performance award for her in the future from her fine work here. I was a bit let down by the secondary characters in the story, Viking thugs in a forest tavern being the biggest letdown. There really hasn’t been anything like secondary characters from classics like The Jungle Book” in quite some time, and that’s a pity. (well, maybe Shrek) But they do serve their purpose, even though the movie uses them in some obviously comic ways. Is Rapunzel’s chameleon pet some type of reflection of Rapunzel’s state of mind, her future existence? Or is he a toy for girls to buy? Who knows? He does serve his Shakespearean dynamic by being the character Rapunzel can talk to and reveal her thoughts to the audience. So there.

This is great stuff, and should be seen with daughters of a certain age, but they may need to be straightened out on a few things about fantasy and reality being a bit too mixed. For their own good. Disney scores once again, and although it is not “The Lion King”, Tangled sure is close.

4/5 Stars 

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