Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"The joy is in the animation, with the non-speaking characters, particularly Rapunzel's chameleon pet and dogged palace horse Maximus stealing every scene they are in."

Considering that Disney's latest fairytale reimagining is in all-singing, all-dancing CGI and 3D, the end result is curiously flat. This is not to say that this take on Rapunzel is a dud by any means, but there is a constant nagging sense of opportunities being missed. Living, as we do, in a post-Enchanted world, there is a feeling that some of the magic escaped the bottle with that post-modern take on Disney's canon and no amount of wishes can bring it back.

Here, scriptwriter Dan Fogelman (Bolt) attempts to have his cake and eat it, drawing on the original fairytale and playing up the romance elements, while giving Rapunzel a Miley-Cyrus/Facebook sort of makeover to try to inject her with some sass. This version of the Grimm tale is, as you would expect from Disney, much less grim than its source, with Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) stolen from her king and queen parents as a babe in arms, so that a wicked crone can stay forever young, courtesy of the young princess' magical hair, which has the power to heal. Malevolent in a much less obvious way than other Disney bad girls - and, boy, does the House Of Mouse have mummy issues - Donna Murphy's Mother Gothel is a psychological tyrant, using a passive/aggressive combo to bend the girl to her will.

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Nearing her 18th birthday, however, all is not well at Rapunzel towers, as the closeted girl longs to experience the wider world - and, particularly, to get close to the lights which always light the sky on her birthday. When a thief (Zachary Levi) stumbles upon her 'prison', he - after a couple of close encounters with the wrong end of a frying pan - agrees to take her out to see the spectacle and bring her back before her mother notices her absence. Of course, mummy gets wind of Rapunzel's departure and it isn't long before she is hellbent on bringing her back with a dose of tough love.

Where scripting sparkle matched the animation step for step in the likes of Beauty And The Beast and The Little Mermaid - the spirit of which directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard are clearly trying to evoke - here the dialogue lacks depth and wit. The joy is in the animation, with the non-speaking characters, particularly Rapunzel's chameleon pet and dogged palace horse Maximus stealing every scene they are in. The human characters fare less well, rendered somewhat sterile by the smooth and polished CGI look that strips out the emotion. The 'lip synch', too, is never as convincing as it is in Disney's 2D classics.

The scoring is also disappointing. Alan Menken, who created some memorable sing-alongs for The Little Mermaid and Beauty And The Beast serves up anodyne ditties that feel as smooth and featureless as the characters' look. There's plenty here to please those who like traditional storytelling but with Tangled scheduled to be its 'last princess' story for the foreseeable future, it's a shame Disney's 50th feature feels as though it stands heavily in the shadow of its forebears.

Reviewed on: 02 Dec 2010
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Disney take on the classic tale of Rapunzel.
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Director: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard

Writer: Dan Fogelman, Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm

Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman, M.C. Gainey, Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett, Paul F. Tompkins, Richard Kiel, Delaney Rose Stein, Nathan Greno, Byron Howard, Tim Mertens, Michel Bell, Bob Bergen

Year: 2010

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US


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