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Movie is 'Tangled' up in do

Published December 09. 2010 05:00PM

The Disney animation elves have been busy. They've created a holiday treat, a new do for Rapunzel, titled, appropriately enough, "Tangled."

You're probably familiar with the story of Rapunzel, a teen locked away in a tower by an evil witch. And her hair grows and grows and grows. In this version, Rapunzel is rescued not by a prince, but a bandit, albeit one who makes good.

There've been many incarnations of the fairy tale, including "Barbie as Rapunzel" (yes, the Barbie Doll). Rapunzel appears in the "Shrek" animated features. Rapunzel shows up in Stephen Sondheim's musical, "Into the Woods." On her 2009 "Monster Ball Tour," Lady Gaga dressed as Rapunzel to perform her song "Paparazzi."

"Tangled" is more than a new hair-do.

No tabloid photographers pursue Rapunzel in "Tangled." There are notably few pop culture references, unlike many contemporary animated features.

The length of Rapunzel's hair makes for some great sight gags. Her hair becomes a rope, a lasso and a hiding place.

The Disney animators resisted the temptation to make at least one hair-extension joke.

While the animation in "Tangled" is computer-generated and the movie is in 3-D, it's blissfully old-school. There's a traditional Disney flavor to lush background detail and palette in forest scenes, tower interiors and village life. The look is reminiscent of Disney classics, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Sleeping Beauty" and "Cinderella."

Directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, animators-writers-voice artists in their animated feature film directorial debut, worked from a screenplay by veteran screenwriter Dan Fogelman ("Bolt," "Cars"), based on the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm fairy tale.

The screenwriters, pun intended, comb storylines from fairy tale fare: the search for a baby snatched from the crib, for example. They, again, pun intended, tease out the elements into a fully-blown plot.

While they've retained original "Rapunzel" fairy tale components: Mother Gothel, the witch, as well as the magic flower, the story is given more depth and additional characters, including Rapunzel's pal, Pascal, a chameleon, and Maximus, a big white horse.

Thankfully, there are not too many characters, often a downfall, not only in animated films.

"Tangled" is really a musical -- similar to more recent Disney animated fare.

The score by Alan Menken ("Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Little Mermaid" and eight-time Oscar winner) evidences solid songwriting. The Glenn Slater lyrics and Menken melodies pop.

Mandy Moore was a good choice to voice Rapunzel, and even more so as a singer. Zachary Levi voices Flynn Ryder. Donna Murphy, Tony-winning Broadway actress ("Passion"), is also an excellent choice, as Mother Gothel.

"The Tear Heals," "I See The Light" and "When Will My Life Begin" are sung beautifully by Moore. Murphy adds a comedic touch of malice to "Mother Knows Best."

The 3-D animation serves up floating lanterns, a fluttery butterfly and bluebird. You want to reach out and touch them.

You'll get tangled up in "Tangled," charming, entertaining and certain to become a classic in the world of Disney.

"Tangled," MPAA Rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children) for brief mild violence; Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance; Run time; 1 hr., 40 min.; Distributed by Walt Disney Motion Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Keep the 3-D glasses on at the end of "Tangled" where line drawings of key characters and elements float above the credit roll.

Box Office, Dec. 3: "Tangled" tied up No. 1, with $21.5 million and $96.4 million after two weeks, tripping up "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1," which dropped to No. 2 after two weeks at No. 1, $16.7 million and $244.2 million, three weeks.

3. "Burlesque," $6.1 million, $26.9 million, two weeks; 4. "Unstoppable," $6.1 million, $68.8 million, four weeks; 5. "Love and Other Drugs," $5.7 million; $22.6 million, two weeks; 6. "Megamind," $5 million, $136.7 million, five weeks; 7. "Due Date," $4.2 million, $90.9 million, five weeks; 8. "Faster," $3.8 million; $18.1 million, two weeks; 9. "The Warrior's Way," $3 million, opening; 10. "The Next Three Days," $2.6 million, $18.3 million, three weeks

Still playing: Because of popular demand, the run of "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Next," final chapter in Lisbeth Salander's saga, has been extended through Dec. 16 at Theatre 514 in Civic Theatre of Allentown's 19th Street Film Series.

Unreel, Dec. 10:

"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," Rated PG: Director Michael Apted takes the helm for the third in the series.

"The Tourist," Rated PG-13: Two of cinema's biggest stars, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, team for an espionage thriller set in Venice.

"The Tempest," Rated PG-13: Broadway director Julie Taymor puts a gender-bender twist on Shakespeare, with Helen Mirren as Propsera, Felicity Jones as Miranda and Djmon Hounsou as Caliban. So, who gets voted off the island?

"The Company Men," Rated R: Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones star in a drama about three businessmen who are laid off.

Read previous movie reviews at Email Paul Willistein at: and on Facebook.

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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