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Cinema Signal: Not quite a green light but has elements of strong appeal for a limited audience.
. "Tangled"

I was expecting this animated Rapunzel romance to be just another formulaic rehash of the imprisoned princess in the tower with prince charming coming to the rescue story. But, I was surprised and impressed with the extra depth of this updated version as issues and acting styles are tailored to current perspectives. Clever visual exploitation adds further delights to a receptive audience.

Rapunzel is captured and spirited away from her parents, the king and queen, shortly after her birth. Gothel, a hag of the countryside, learns of the magical properties of the wee princess's golden locks--hair that provides the evil witch the means to remain young. She wants it; she takes it; and it must never be shorn.

She locks the babe up in a high tower surrounded by mountains and a hidden forest entryway where she raises the child, putting on the act of a mother with all good intentions. Time passes and we next see the princess as a teenager. Her magic blond hair is almost the same length as the tower itself. It's long enough, in fact, to hoist Mother Gothel up and down from the terrace of their "home" to the ground below, as though there's no other way to enter.

But it's all an elaborate illusion to keep Rapunzel imprisoned without realizing her true position. With no amusements or friends, the girl's major diversion is watching from her window the annual release of colorfully incandescent magic lanterns that fill the skies above the far off castle of her true parents. Little does she suspect that it's a signal that calls to her.

What her jailor never counted on was the inquisitive nature of the child she has reared, nor the possibility that anyone would ever find her secreted sanctum. That visitor turns out be the ultra-handsome womanizer and hardy, good adventurer, Flynn Rider, a lusty young man who recognizes evil intentions when he discovers it.

Despite his libertine ways, he has a sense of justice and decides to devote himself to freeing the beautiful lady--even if the young flower sees him for what he is--dashing though he may be! It's a romantic comedy device that provides an abundant battle of wits--playing off each other to great effect as they seek a common goal.

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Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Untangled: The Making of a Fairy Tale
  • Two Original Storybook Openings
  • Extended songs
  • Disc Two: DVD Feature film + Bonus
    The Soundtrack

  • Given these elements, we are in for an adventure with a trail of hair masterfully designed to cope with many threats and dangers. The hair variations include being a source of beauty as well as magic; it's a defensive weapon and a protection against harm. It is, at once, an original visual device and an integral story feature.

    The process of transforming a young man's free-spirited nature into a game-changing emotional connection; and a young girl's natural defenses against superficiality doing a turnabout when she sees the fuller dimensions of her trusty hero, imparts to the story and its characters the sympathetic tie that forms a substantial affinity to them and to their ultimate destiny.

    While the animation isn't as technically flashy as such work as "Rango," it easily proves that more wasn't needed. It does just fine with the animation style it employs, 3-D included. Nothing is lost in terms of the subtleties of human expression, especially in the range of reactions by the central figures. And, when broader characterization is needed, even the ornery white horse is good for some laughs.

    But, it's Mandy Moore's performance that seals the deal with a charm and personality I didn't know she had--incredibly well rendered by the animation team off her sprightly voice track. It's good enough to slash any doubts about whether to see or own this movie. My only regret is that I didn't hop to the theatre sooner. If you haven't yet seen it, don't go making my mistake.

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                                          ~~  Jules Brenner  

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    Dashing hero and trapped (but not defenseless) heroine
    Voiced by Zachary Levi and a sprightly Mandy Moore.

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