I remember back, oh, I don’t know, I wanna say, like, ten years or so ago, first hearing about Disney’s “RAPUNZEL UNBRAIDED.” The film was to be directed by veteran animator Glen Keane, who gave life to The Beast and was the main awesomeness of the studio’s crop of traditional animators. The project moved on, slowly, as animated projects do, and found itself in some creative rough waters – which is par for the course with animated features. If you recall, all the top animators wanted to be on Poca and it was thought King of the Jungle would be sub-par until it was revamped as The Lion King. Anyway, I was psyched for this project for a decade… that is, until the project was taken away from Keane – and out would go his traditional Disney look and feel and in would come a very grating Dreamworksy aesthetic. With the announcement of Mandy Moore as our lead and the title change from the classy “Rapunzel” to the generic “Tangled” – I was out. And I have not paid attention to this since.
The only reason I found myself excited at the El Capitan theater last night was solely for the prospect of five new Alan Menken melodies entering my ear holes – one of my favorite things to look forward to in life. At the very least I’d walk out humming a few new tunes that will become part of every Disney park experience to come. What I didn’t expect was that I’d have watery eyes as well.
The publicity department who handled “Tangled” should be shot in the face. The film’s trailers and TV spots do nothing to capture the classic Disney magic contained within this film. Using Pink in favor of Menken’s new soon-to-be classics? Relying on Flynn Rider’s “smolder” and Rapunzel’s hair-used-as-a-whip? I know no one who thinks this film looked good. Most of the people I know, including fans of Disney animation, will most likely skip this film unless forced. And who can blame them? Who wants to see a studio who used to create MAGIC and set trends in storytelling follow third-rate Dreamworks in their obnoxious, lowest-common-denominator style? Again, if it wasn’t for Menken, I may have drew the line myself. And what a mistake that would have been.
The film is nothing like the ads suggest, serving up a giant dose of THE MAGIC just how you want it. Is it timeless classic material that can stand side by side with Mermaid, Beauty and Aladdin? NO. Is it more fun, moving and entertaining than Mulan, Bolt, Chicken Little, Home on the Range, and even last year’s so-so Princess and the Frog? YES. Should it have been presented in non 3D and in traditional, classic hand-drawn animation. YES. But when it comes down to it – story is really all that matters in the end, and this films achieves what it sets out to do. Not to mention that there are 5 main songs running through this that you’ll be humming on your way out of the theater. There are chill-inducing moments that will make you feel like you did when Sebastien encouraged Prince Eric to “Kiss the Girl.” And there are sidekick animal characters that don’t speak. Yes, finally, a return to animals portrayed like classic Disney – their personalities coming through in there animation rather than annoying celebrity voices. Speaking of, you’ll forget you’re even listening to Mandy when Rapunzel speaks – her characterization of the princess up there with the best of them.
I’m very happy. This feeling is so rare these days I need to go back into a theater an cherish it, for it may not come again for a long while. The studio has just announced this will be the last princess related story for a long while, which is all the more reason you need to get up and go see Rapunzel right now and send a message to the studio to stick to what they do best.
Check out a nice little recap of all 50 of Disney’s animated films after the jump…
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