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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tangled is a reimagining of the classic Rapunzel tale and a Disney "princess" movie that's sure to entertain both boys and girls. Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) isn't the typical princess in need of rescuing; she does her fair share of saving Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) -- who's no Prince Charming. There's a lot of romantic chemistry between them (flirting, gazing, and eventually hand-holding, embracing, and a kiss or two), as well as a couple of creepy scenes in which the youthful-looking Mother Gothel uses her beauty to lure men to do what she wants. Expect some nearly constant cartoon violence -- one character dies, another one nearly dies after being pierced by a knife, and there are plenty of last-minute escapes from arrows, horse-mounted soldiers, fire, etc. Characters are hit on the head with a frying pan and kicked in the head; others hold knives and spears in threatening ways. The movie's messages about girl power and seeing beyond appearances are positive and inspiring; kids will learn that we all have dreams, and we should do everything we can to make them come true.
What's the story?
Based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, TANGLED follows the story of Princess Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore), who -- thanks to a special flower that her mother the queen ate during a difficult pregnancy -- has magical, ever-growing hair with the power to heal and rejuvenate. But it's only used to keep her Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) -- a deceitful old crone who kidnapped Rapunzel as a baby -- looking young and beautiful. Locked away in a hidden tower, Rapunzel's deepest wish is to see the beautiful "stars" that light up the sky on her birthday every year. When a rogue thief named Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi) discovers her tower, she keeps him trapped in her hair until he promises to take her to see the soaring lanterns ... and get her back to the tower before Mother Gothel returns from a three-day errand. In exchange, Rapunzel vows to return the jeweled crown that Flynn stole. On their adventure, the two grow closer and closer -- but Mother Gothel and Flynn's rivals will do their best to keep Rapunzel from realizing the truth.
Is it any good?
It's a relief to see that Disney can still conjure up a princess movie to rival its all-time greats. In 2009 there was the lovely, hopeful Tiana in The Princess and the Frog, and now there's another fairy tale heroine who's worthy of adoration: Tangled's Rapunzel. She's guileless, strong, and beautiful -- and so breathtakingly good that you can't help but weep with her when she thinks all hope is lost. And her chemistry with Flynn is so heart-flutteringly good that you don't even need to use the kids as an excuse to watch: This is a perfect date-night pick. Their relationship is built on mutual respect and trust, something completely missing in many earlier Disney movies. And it's Flynn who nearly dies and requires Rapunzel to save him, not the other way around! What a refreshing turn on the age-old damsel-in-distress meets dashing-prince story.
As for the dramatic tension, it's best in the form of Mother Gothel -- brilliantly played by Murphy, whose signature Broadway voice (on fabulous display in the amazing number "Mother Knows Best") adds the necessary punch to Moore's sweet, airy vocals. Mother is, at least as princess film villains go, a personal favorite. In a youth-obsessed culture, who couldn't extend the tiniest bit of sympathy for an ancient, shriveled old hag who'd rather look like a young Sophia Loren-meets-Cher? Composer Alan Menken's songs -- from Murphy's show-stopper to Moore's eternally optimistic "When Will My Life Begin," the inspiring "I've Got a Dream," and the love song "I See the Light" -- are all great, as is singer-songwriter Grace Potter's theme, "Something I Want." Tangled has it all -- lovable characters, fantastic songs, and a powerful message about how your life can change if other people believe in you and your dreams.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the message in Tangled that it's never too late to realize a dream -- whether it's seeing lanterns or becoming a pianist. Do you have any "someday" dreams?
How is Rapunzel similar to and different from other Disney princesses? Is she the typical damsel in distress? How does she show the traits of courage, curiosity, and empathy over the course of the movie?
Kids: What made you want to see this movie -- the story or all the ads and product tie-ins? Do you want a product because the movie characters are pictured on it?
Do you think Mother loved Rapunzel, or was she just using her? What about Rapunzel's feelings for Mother? Why did Rapunzel think Flynn wouldn't love her if she didn't have her magical blond hair anymore?
- In theaters: November 24, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: March 29, 2011
- Cast: Donna Murphy, Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi
- Directors: Byron Howard, Nathan Greno
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Princesses and Fairies, Adventures, Music and Sing-Along
- Character Strengths: Courage, Curiosity, Empathy, Gratitude, Integrity, Self-control
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: brief mild violence
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