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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Family movie DVD review of Disney's Tangled

I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. This is the best all-around movie to come out since "The Princess Bride." And if for some bizarre reason you don't like that classic movie, I probably don't like you. You should look elsewhere for your review of this movie. And defriend me on Facebook while you're at it. 
That's how much I like this movie. "Tangled" has the distinction of being the only movie I've ever purchased without seeing it first. I'm a cheapskate, so naturally I want to be sure I'll enjoy a movie before I buy it, since I know I can throw away a dollar at Redbox and see a movie I don't like once without agonizing over the prospect of watching it again. But for some reason, I was pretty sure I was going to love "Tangled," between what I heard friends saying about it and what I saw in the previews.

Even so, it was nerve-wracking to put my investment into the DVD player for the first time. Would I like it enough to justify my order? I knew I had chose well within minutes of the opening. The scene goes like this - minor spoiler alert:

Thief on top of the castle, about to break in to steal from royalty: "That is some view, guys. You know, I could really get used to this."

Burly twin with lamb chops: Come on Rider, we gotta move.

Rider, holding up a finger with a lopsided smile pasted to his face: Hold on... Yeah, I'm used to it. I really need to get a castle. Can't you guys see me in a castle?

That's not verbatim by any means but you get the idea. The character has enough charisma to put President Obama to shame, which is saying something since he was elected on charisma juice and not a whole lot more. His character made me a fan of Zachry Levi, even though I've never seen any other performance by him (I have hear TV's Chuck is entertaining.)

But I knew from the previews that I was going to like his character. The real surprise is how well I liked just about every other character in the movie - even the bad guy - erm, lady, whatever. Each person or animal conveys a unique personality.

Rapunzel's mother, played by Donna Murphy, is a bright spot in the movie, amazing considering she's also the dark influence. She pulls off an amazing and convincing performance as the hateful character you just have to like anyway. She plays mind games with Rapunzel to keep her in the tower by, um, let's see - crushing her self esteem through sugar-coated insults. Some of the lines she directs at Rapunzel are absolutely brilliant. She is probably one of my favorite villains of all time.

Rapunzel, played by singer and actress Mandy Moore, has plenty of personality to convey herself. She boasts myriad creative uses for her lengthy locks. You might want to make a game of guessing all the ways she'll use her hair as you watch the movie. I was pleasantly surprised. As a conflicted character, Moore pulls her role off without a hitch. In general, the superb voice acting supports the top-notch writing throughout the movie.

One warning: Tangled is a light musical. This actually scared me at first since I can't stand it most of the time when characters randomly break out in song and dance. But don't worry too much. They did it well. The music is written by Alan Menken, who also did the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, the last three musicals that had anything good going for them. It is actually good music, though it does tend to get stuck in your head. And the songs are never overlong, so it lets the plot move along briskly, only complementing it and, I'd say, even enhancing it.

Back to the top. I compare this to "The Princess Bride" for more than overall quality alone. It has many of the same things going for it: action (often laugh inducing in itself), romance (just enough that guys afraid of chick flicks don't mind too much, humor (lots) and (cough) a princess with an unlikely love interest.

I just hope Disney can follow this successful recipe more often, since the studio had pretty much handed over the reins to the superior Pixar since Toy Story came out. Pixar had better watch their backs if Disnet can keep doing this kind of movie.

Summary:
If you skipped past all the above stuff to get to this, two things: 1. Shame on you. 2. Buy this movie. The lovable characters and memorable moments will keep you entertained throughout.

Family friendliness: 5/5
The movie is clean. Even when one character stabs another (no I won't tell you who - stop asking) the knife comes out clean. We watch this unabashedly with our 2- and 3-year-old children.

Rewatchability: 4.5/5
Other than the way Mandy Moore puts the emphasis on the "You" in "Eugene" and delivers a horribly written speech near the end, there is nothing to detract from the experience of rewatching this. In fact, the characters become even more likable when you know them better after a couple viewings. I find I laugh harder at the movie than people seeing it for the first time. I've seen this movie probably seven times since we bought it and it has held my attention each time for the most part. This category is important when you have children and a small movie library with no cable in house.

Voice Acting: 4.8/5
I take off .2 just for the problems I mentioned above with Mandy Moore.

Music: 4.5/5
The half point deduction is for how the songs get stuck in my head interminably. In fact, I am currently typing to the beat of "Mother Knows Best" playing in my head.

Overall: 5/5
I couldn't ask for too many improvements here. Small qualms aside, this is seriously one of the best things to come out of Hollywood. Ever. Especially for families.

4 comments:

  1. You smell that? To me its part man smell and part really bad man smell overall just smells like the color brown any thoughts.

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  2. Yeah, that was a good line that. I remember thinking it was only mediocre until the bit about "the color brown" came in. Then it was priceless.

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  3. before i read your review i'd like to say that i dislike Tangled story b/c of the distrust of a parental figure it breeds in the viewer. i recognize that i might be hyper sensitive to this b/c i have a great daughter w/ some issues w/ her parental authority figures: me & andrea.
    and my wonderful mom-in-law likes this movie, and she has MAJOR issues w/ her own mother.
    and i found the movie rather humorless.

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  4. Andy,
    I can understand that point of view a little bit. My father said the same thing. But the woman's completely evil, and you and Andrea aren't. And my kids have, lets say, fewer discipline issues than your great daughter.
    What I can't understand is calling the movie humorless. I laugh pretty hard every time I watch it.

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