Tangled was pitched as Disneys revisiting of their classic fairytale tradition see the likes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Cinderella (1950), Sleeping Beauty (1959). In truth, that is exactly what Tangled is not or at least, it is a deceptive claim. Rather than the Disney classics, which always play the fairytale elements straight, Tangled falls more into the tradition of modern films like Shrek (2001) and Disneys own Enchanted (2007), which relentlessly deconstruct and poke fun at classic fairytales or modernise/rewrite them in contemporary terms and language. To its credit, Tangled is not as grating in its persistent need to be hip and modernistic as some of the other films that have come out amidst this fad such as Ella Enchanted (2004), Hoodwinked! (2005) and Happily NEver After (2006), although it is still anything but a standard reading of Rapunzel (which was first written down by the Brothers Grimm in 1812).
After Disney scaled some amazing heights during the previous decade-and-a-half, the quality of animation in Tangled comes as disappointingly average. The film was also released in the exasperatingly ubiquitous 3D process like almost any animated film that has come out since 2010. Disney also return to the tradition of including songs, which have been phased out of their films for the better part of a decade now to this extent, the film even casts the lead role with pop singer Mandy Moore. None of these are particularly memorable you get the feeling that they were inserted more with an eye towards creating an ensuing Broadway musical as has happened with a number of Disney animated films in recent years.
Tangled feels awkward and conceptually uneasy. The fairytale has been sufficiently changed and the elements expanded out so that now all we have is an adventure story about a handsome rogue and a girl with magical hair. There is not much more to Tangled than that. One of the more amusing things is watching Rapunzels all-purpose hair, which she uses as everything from a rope to tie Flynn up to swing around the tower with to light the way in the dark, while it also has vague magical properties that Mother Gothel needs to rejuvenate her age. There is the sense that the film is trying to compensate for the thinness of the plot in other areas needlessly pumping up action sequences like the collapse of the water irrigation pipes in a mini-tsunami. There is a moderately lovely scene where Rapunzel and Flynn arrive at the lantern festival and watch hundreds of lit lanterns take off into the sky.
The films plus is the relationship between Rapunzel and Flynn. Expectedly, she is played as a modern girl and characterised with a feisty headstrong determination. There is an appealingly natural sense of humour to their relationship. Everything ends with a predictable happy ever after ending the witch is killed, the heroine discovers she was a princess all along, even the thuggish heavies get to find their self-fulfilment. It is a competent run through of the Disney formula but alas is only Disney Lite.