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Review – Tangled

Click poster for more info.

Click poster for more info.

With the voices of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman, M. C. Gainey. Directed by Nathan Greno, Byron Howard. Rated PG for brief mild violence. 93 minutes.

TANGLED is Walt Disney Studio’s 50th “official” animated release, meaning that the count doesn’t include all those direct-to-video features or other minor efforts/money grabs. Given both the merger with Pixar and the stunning updating of traditional animation that was last year’s “The Princess And The Frog,” one would have hoped that Disney Animation was entering a new era. Unfortunately “Tangled” is a bland and formulaic movie that may amuse the kiddies, but is a huge disappointment for the grown-ups who must accompany them.

Adapting the fairy tale “Rapunzel,” we get a story about a girl who is kidnapped as an infant and is not allowed to cut her hair because she has ingested a magic flower, which the evil Mother Gothel (voice of Donna Murphy) has been using to stay young. Now it is Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) and her hair which is the source of the magic, so she is kept locked in a tower and forbidden to get a haircut. One day the roguish thief Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi) shows up, trying to elude the law and his thuggish partner (Ron Perlman). Rapunzel gets the drop on him and promises to release him and his booty only if he takes her to see the mysterious lights that appear once a year on her birthday.

You can probably figure out the rest of the story. No one is going to these movies for the plots. No, it’s the animation, the music, and the voice cast that are the attractions, or at least they are supposed to be, but in each case “Tangled” falls short.

In spite of the fact that 3D has added little to even the best animated efforts and the success of the 2D “The Princess And The Frog,” we’re back not only with the glasses but with generic computer animation. The characters look like they’ve been created by the people responsible for those direct-to-video “Barbie” movies, with little in the way of style or originality. You feel like you’ve seen all these characters before, probably drawn in 2D and with more wit.

The music might have saved the film but instead, Alan Menken, who once gave us “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty And The Beast,” and “Aladdin,” now gives us a generic score (with forgettable lyrics by Glenn Slater) that is strictly by-the-numbers. The songs might as well be called “Big Number by the Villainess,” “Production Number by Comic Bad Guys,” and “Romantic Duet Intended for an Oscar Nomination.”

As for the voice cast, Donna Murphy attempts to bring Mother Godel to life, but the character is so nasty and manipulative that she’s just creepy instead of being one of those Disney villains you love to hate. It says something that they went and got such distinctive character actors as M.C. Gainey, Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett and Richard Kiel in supporting roles and they’ll likely go unrecognized. As the leads, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi do their best with uninteresting characters, but are ultimately defeated by the material.

Thank goodness for “Toy Story 3” and “Despicable Me.” Otherwise, as “Tangled” sadly demonstrates, the year in animation was as forgettable as the most of the live action releases.•••

North Shore Movies has given this film a score of 2 out of 5.Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being I’ll Have What She’s Having: Behind The Scenes Of The Great Romantic Comedies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville.

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About Daniel M. Kimmel

Film critic, author, lecturer.

16 responses »

  1. What? This is one of the best years for animation in a LONG time. You didn’t see “How To Train Your Dragon”?

    And you clearly didn’t get “Tangled.” It was stunning.

    Reply
  2. Um, actually it’s Howard Ashman who wrote the scores to The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and part of Aladdin. (Before he died of AIDS)
    Do your research.

    Reply
  3. The movie was so typical and boring and the design of Rapunzel is an ugly version of Barbie…

    Reply
  4. As an Animation student with several years under my belt, this sentence confuses me-

    “No, it’s the animation, the music, and the voice cast that are the attractions, or at least they are supposed to be, but in each case “Tangled” falls short.”

    Tangled is, by far, the best 3d animation Disney has ever put out. The movement is absolutely fluid and natural, the facial animation is simply brilliant in its subtlety. The dynamic simulations were perfectly tuned to the art style, and the hair rendering literally rewrote the book. Tangled’s animation is very nearly on par with Pixar’s.

    Please, don’t go out of your way to pretend you know anything about art when your words paint you so woefully unqualified.

    Reply
    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Something can be technically adept and still be bland and uninspiring.

      Pixar and Disney, btw, are now the same company. John Lasseter is one of the executive producers for the film.

      Reply
  5. Mr. Kimmel,
    I think you may have had an upset tummy at the viewing of this film. So upset that all you could think about was getting out of the theater and to a toilet to relieve the evil inside you…Thus hindering your ability to make sound judgments about this picture. I will accept your resignation as a critic and hope in the future you will look to an over the counter remedy for your stomach pains.

    Reply
    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      I have to say I’m surprised at the vehemence of the supporters of this bland movie unworthy of the Disney name. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, but the overwrought personal attacks makes me wonder.

      You’ll be glad to know I feel just fine and will continue reviewing, calling them as I see them as I focus on the films, not on their potential fanbase.

      Reply
  6. I think you are a skilled critic. By throwing a rotten tomato at a comparatively innocent movie as “Tangled,” you certainly captured people’s attention. Otherwise, I probably would not have read your article.

    However, if the movie was really meant to be long-lasting, it needed a more memorable score. Unfortunately, you are right. “Tangled” has the potential to be forgettable where it does not capture the heart. I would still recommend it to viewers for the positive message and clean family entertainment (and some stellar visuals). It is a good gateway movie to hopefully even more magical Disney works.

    Reply
  7. The score was bland as well as the villain, and the romance didn’t actually develop, it wasn’t there and suddenly… WHAT? Now they are in love? :S

    The animation was FANTASTIC though, it was very visually stunning, specially the hair WOW, the character models were very nice, and their faces shown emotions like no other movie I have seen, the humor was great too. Overall my only real compliant was the music, without powerful music no animated film can become unforgettable.

    Reply
  8. One of the traits of an intelligent reviewer — besides their ability to write a well-balanced review — is the ability to recognize both the positives and the negatives in what they’re reviewing. It’s hard to believe that not even ONE of the songs was good, not even one frame of the 3D CGI was worth it, not even one character design was imaginative and original.

    Single-mindedly negative reviews are fun to write, and they get you attention. But until you can man up and admit that writing them makes you seem shallow, at least learn how to take criticism without petulantly sniping back at every reader who disagrees with you.

    Reply
    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Mostly I let the comments speak for themselves. But the hysterical overreaction to my review of “Tangled” required response. If a movie is mediocre, which “Tangled” is, it is NOT my job to find something nice to say about it whether for “balance” or to spare the tender feelings of those who might disagree. I have no problem praising good movies, or discussing the merits and flaws of mixed films. In the case of “Tangled,” the music was utterly unmemorable, the characters trite, and the plotting clumsy. It’s okay for you to disagree and like the film. It’s not okay to declare those who disagree with you somehow not brave enough to admit you are right.

      Reply
      • “I have to say I’m surprised at the vehemence of the supporters of this bland movie unworthy of the Disney name.”

        Really? For someone who makes a living as a writer to at the same time downplay the effect their words have on an audience strikes me as incredibly unfortunate. The quality of your review wasn’t what I was calling into question. The issue here is your blatant unwillingness to recognize the negative effect your review might have had on your readers, as well as your seeming inability to take criticism.

        It isn’t your job to placate the part of the audience that disagrees with you. It *is* your job to be receptive to your audience’s opinions. Firing back at people’s posts with inflammatory statements like the one above doesn’t make you more correct than they are — it only makes you look defensive and childish. No opinion is more correct than the other, and you already had your review to defend yours. There’s no sense in chastising the people in the comments section for defending theirs.

  9. I’m pretty much in agreement with you. I would give Tangled 2 out of 4 stars. The score was generic (a major disappointment from the man who thrice gave us excellence in the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin), and the characters were dull.

    That being said, I thought the animation was dazzling. But that was the only good thing about the film.

    It’s the best Disney film since 2000’s the Emperor’s New Groove (which was good but not great), and it’s not saying much when you consider the garbage that was released in between. It nowhere near reaches Fantasia, Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, Tarzan, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, or my personal favorite, The Lion King.

    Reply

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