Moviefone got an advance look at Disney's latest family film, 'Tangled,' a modern update on the Rapunzel fairy tale.
Instead of calmly waiting to be rescued from her lonely tower, this spunky heroine does some pretty nifty tricks with her magical 70-foot mane and wields a mean frying pan. She's assisted in her quest for freedom by a charming thief, a hilariously law-and-order-obsessed horse named Maximus and a rogue's gallery of unlikely sidekicks.
'Tangled' is Disney's 50th animated film; the 3-D and the fast-paced action scenes make it contemporary, but its tale of self-discovery, finding love and overcoming evil (accompanied by a heart-warming song) is pure, classic Disney.
Co-directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, who previously worked together on 'Bolt,' were hand-picked for the job by Pixar's John Lasseter. At an advance October screening in Beverly Hills, the pair shared how nervous they were to please their Oscar-winning boss. They needn't have worried. Greno related Lasseter's words after seeing the finished film: "You did it."
There are rousing chases, a memorable villain (silkily voiced by Tony winner Donna Murphy), amusingly anthropomorphic animals and, yes, true love. Disney once again taps the prolific Alan Menken, who penned songs for 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'Pocahontas' and 'Aladdin,' for songs that chart our heroine's journey.
As a teenager, Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) is an industrious girl who, along with her chameleon companion and her surprisingly versatile hair, manages to entertain herself all day in her tower. She has no idea who she really is, but can't help being curious about what lies outside the tower. Her inner struggle as she debates whether to be a good daughter or follow her instincts is both funny and moving. (What teenager can't relate?)
At first, she asks for permission to leave the tower, but "Mother" forbids it, launching into a song about the terrible dangers beyond her safe haven. She's a terrific villain, a slightly more sweet version of Maleficent, the magnificently selfish sorceress in 'Sleeping Beauty.' Mother doesn't need to transform into a giant dragon, however; she's quite intimidating as a mere human.
Rapunzel hatches an impromptu escape when a swashbuckling hero (of sorts) appears. On-the-run thief Flynn Ryder (charmingly voiced by 'Chuck's' Zachary Levi) handily seeks refuge in her tower, leading an enterprising Rapunzel to force him to act as her guide to see the world in person. Their courtship-slash-road trip is funny and sweet, by turns.
The no-nonsense horse (who makes Prince Charming's mount look decidedly dull) was a hit with one little boy at the screening, while another one told me his favorite part was a comical rescue scene.
Like Rapunzel, we wait with anticipation for what we know will be an incredible moment when she finally finds what she's looking for, but the sunset-lit scene is breathtakingly gorgeous -- and classic Disney.