Once upon a time, in a kingdom ruled by grown-up movies and adult content, there was born a beautiful animated princess of a film. When the stork-screenwriter Dan Fogelman delivered her, her parents, directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, must have taken one look at her and known that she would capture the hearts of all the children she met, whether they were age six or age 60. And they named her Tangled.
She certainly entangled this unsuspecting suitor. As soon as her beautiful range of colors first appeared on the screen, I was in love. She takes a new twist on the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale Rapunzel and tells it with the spunk of a teenage girl.
Mandy Moore gives Rapunzel a voice, playing opposite Zachary Levi—the “nerdy” star of TV’s Chuck—as the not-so-nerdy bandit Flynn Rider. Rapunzel is born a princess with the help of an unusual midwife: a magical flower sprouted from a drop of the sun. The flower gives her hair the powers of healing and eternal youth. The wizened hag Mother Gothel, who is desperate to be less wizened and hag-like, tries to steal some of her hair, but upon finding that it loses its powers when cut, she does herself one better and steals the child. Gothel locks Rapunzel in a tower, returning every few days to brush the magical hair and regain some of her beauty.
Rapunzel, full of rebelliousness and boredom, longs to escape and see the display of lights that rise up from the kingdom each year on her birthday—little dreaming that they are actually a ceremony done in remembrance of herself, the “lost princess.” She forces Flynn Rider, who tries to hide his thief self in her tower, to take her to the celebration. On the way, the two fall—well, maybe more like accidentally trip—in love, and then join forces to free Rapunzel from Mother Gothel’s evil clutches.
To tell any more about the movie’s plot would be to steal the crown jewel from Princess Tangled’s tiara, but she has a lot more up her sleeves, including a band of ceramic-unicorn-collecting thugs and a horse with more personality than Seabiscuit, Flicka, and Black Beauty put together.
Like any deserving princess, Tangled seems to have been blessed by fairies at birth. Musical magician Alan Menken, who gave voice to the Little Mermaid and nearly every Disney character since, has once again waved his conductor’s wand. His charming score will be running through your head for weeks; you will feel all of Rapunzel’s anxiousness during her song, “When Will My Life Begin?” and you cry with laughter at the company number “I’ve Got a Dream.”
Tangled has not only the gifts of song and story, but also of beauty. I hardly even noticed the incredible animation because the colors are so gorgeously vibrant. The bright, expressive splashes perfectly capture Tangled’s spunky, youthful heart. Critics, critics, be enthralled: she is the fairest of them all.
This movie is winning the hearts of princes and princesses everywhere, and I, for one, am confident that she will live happily ever after as another queen on a Disney throne.