Tangled – Disney’s animators let down their hair to give the fairytale musical a makeover

Disney notches up its 50th animated movie with Tangled and does so in style, taking the tried and true form of the fairytale musical and giving it just enough of a modern makeover to fit the 21st century.

The story is the Brothers Grimm tale of Rapunzel and the studio’s animators have ruffled and teased that a bit too. Heroine Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) is now a princess, abducted at birth by wicked enchantress Mother Gothel (Broadway star Donna Murphy) and kept locked in a tower for 18 years. Gothel’s convinced Rapunzel she’s her loving mother, protecting her from the wicked outside world, but she’s really only interested in Rapunzel’s magical, golden hair – all 70 feet of it – which keeps the crone eternally young.

In days of old, Rapunzel’s saviour would be a prince. Here, instead, it’s rascally thief Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) who turns up, and his arrival launches the pair on a series of spirited adventures involving various crooks, thugs and an unstoppable police horse with a zealous sense of duty.

Delivered with zip, these are great fun. But it’s Rapunzel’s journey to maturity – accompanied by violently see-sawing emotions that the film’s teen and tween audience will recognise – which provides the story’s core. The songs – by Disney veteran Alan Menken – are tuneful, if not particularly memorable, but the computer-generated animation has a delightful painterly feel, while the sparingly used 3D comes into its own in an enchanting scene in which the night sky fills with floating lanterns.

On general release from 28th January.

BFI Southbank is screening all 50 Disney animated movies this year.

Read our friend Heidi’s enthusiastic review of Tangled at the Pink Heart Society.

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