Catchy songs, upbeat heroine, bubble-gum attitude and gorgeous animation. These are what tend to define “classic Disney animation”, which is to say the periods in which they hit their stride (I direct your attention to the ’40s, ’50s, and early ’90s). They’re clearly aiming for that vibe with their latest and 50th film, “Tangled”. “Tangled” is a telling of the tale of Rapunzel. In this, Rapunzel is still a naive, long-haired princess stuck in a tower for all twenty-something years of her life. When a charming thief named Flynn hides away in her tower, Rapunzel sees it as an opportunity to witness the outside world. The unlikely duo get in all sorts of adventures, and, in true Disney form, begin to fall for one another.
Despite the fact that the film is rendered with computers, this is a movie that looks and feels like a traditionally animated one, and I mean this in both good and bad ways. It’s good, because, let’s face it, the film is absolutely gorgeous. Over the last 6 years, Disney poured $260 million into developing this movie, and damn-near every penny shows on screen. It blends the abstract beauty of hand-drawn animation with the vivid detail of that of computer-generated animation. Every frame is a visual revelation. It’s also refreshingly straight-forward, doing away with the self-aware, referential style we’re used to from, say, a Shrek movie.
But the downside of adhering to the Mouse House’s traditional habits is that “Tangled” plays and feels like most other Disney films, and most animated films for that matter. It pleasantly ebbs and bobs along for 90 minutes, hitting all the beats and character moments you’d expect, never feeling really important or necessary. Mind you, it’s never once boring, and to be sure I sat in the theater enjoying myself a good deal, but considered: After all the amazing movies Disney has given us, did such a standard one really need to be made? Had they focused on the story as much as they did the visuals, probably. But instead we have “Tangled”, a movie that soars in some respects but plays it far too safe in others. C+