Disney has long given into the CGI trend and here we have a thoroughly modern, exquisitely animated state of the art children’s movie, loosely based on the brother Grimm’s classic fairy tale.
A benevolent King and Queen (from a requisite land far, far away) manage to lose their beautiful young daughter who is snatched away by Mother Goethel, eager to retain the youth prolonging flower formula now residing in Rapunzel’s hair.
Not only losing daughter Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), the royal couple effectively lose the fountain of youth activated whenever Rapunzel decides to sing, something she does fairly frequently. For those with Musical Phobia, these traditional Disney musical numbers numbers are not too intrusive but can come as shock to those brought up on standard (song free) Pixar fare.
Incarcerated within a tall tower by her “Mother”, Rapunzel is smothered in motherly love and kindness blind to the world that exists outside her tiny window. Apart from the stars that appear rather coincidentally, once a day every year on her birthday.
When required, “Mother” is hoisted gently upwards by the long locks Rapunzel allows to cascade to the forest floor from the upstairs window. “Mother” caring for her every need, apart from freedom of course, a right that Rapunzel does not realise she lacks.
Despite the dogged determination of the castle guard, the princess has never been located. Even with the help of a trusty steed “Maximus”, who clearly has some identity issues, comically believing himself to be a blood hound rather than the Horse he so clearly is.
Meanwhile local charming bad boy thief Flynn (Zachary Levi) chances upon the tower and is promptly kidnapped by the girl with the long hair. Over time and many frying pan applications to the head later, she exploits the situation to find her way in the world, much to “Mothers” annoyance.
Moving away from the tower, the story opens out into a rollicking adventure with a traditional fairy tale ending, no surprise there but there is much enjoyment and fun to be had. Of course we have some unlovable comic side kicks but they do generate some menace, under Goethels malevolent guidance.
The animation is state of the art, voice casting and acting is excellent and the script is blessedly free of topical comments and jokes that plague lesser animated features. The steady hand of producer John Lasseter of Pixar fame can be seen and felt throughout. The story makes sense, the heroine feisty and the hero, very much an anti hero, as now must be the case in 2010.
Maximus is a wonderful creation and the wordless interaction between him and the leads is joyous to watch. Yet again indicating what sharp story boarding and animation can do, with little or no dialogue.
The kids will love it and parents will have enough to entertain them, despite the film not reaching for or attaining true Pixar levels of depth. Curious in many ways, definitely not quite a traditional Disney film nor a Pixar film but a hybrid feature incorporating positive attributes from both studios, producing a very enjoyable film.
Something for everyone, a fine return to form for “Disney”. Funny, witty, entertaining, with a good story and some musical numbers to hum along too.
What more could you want from a Disney film?