Directed by Nathan Greno, Brian Howard
Script: Dan Fogelman
Music by Alan Menken
Voices of: Mandy Moore (Rapunzel), Zachary Levi (Flynn Rider), Donna Murphy (Mother Gothel)
Randy Newman has done a sterling job on Disney soundtracks, but there is only one Alan Menken and his return to music duties marks the best Disney film in twenty years. As soon as you hear the songs with echoes of previous soundtracks, it feels ‘classic Disney.’
You have to go back to the era of Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King to hit this quality. Being digital animation it doesn’t exactly equate, but background detail is Disney quality of old, and this is their first movie for a while to compete with the Shrek series from Dreamworks. It wins. A major advantage is that it doesn’t fall over backwards slipping in sly jokes for the adults.
Why did they change the name from Rapunzel? Probably because you can’t copyright “Rapunzel” as a title. Look at any rack of kids DVDs and you’ll see rows of cheap cartoon take-offs on other fairy tale-based Disney. It’s hard to think anyone gets ‘passed off’ by a £1.95 crudely drawn Beauty & The Beast animation sitting next to the real one at £12.95, but maybe so. Anyway, I thought of it as Rapunzel, and so did the kids, talking about it afterwards.
I laughed out loud many times. The exciting bits were genuinely exciting. Maximus the horse is an all-time great Disney character, Dan Fogelman’s story is superb (Rapunzel is a story that needs fleshing out).
I had doubts about teentalk dialogue: the hero feeling things were ‘a downer’, and ‘being freaked out’, let alone the Wicked Witch / Would-be Mother saying ‘Enough already.’ Are they suggesting the domineering mother figure is Jewish? Perish the thought! These expressions are well-enough established so as not to sound like Austin Powers in ten years time (Groovy, baby). But I don’t think Snow White, or Peter Pan or Lady & The Tramp allowed themselves to move that far from neutrality of style. Neutrality bestows longetivity.
One thing I’m certain of. Disneyworld will be adding “Rapunzel burning lanterns” to its firework display every night, and we’ll have to buy the lanterns for the kids.As soon as we came out, the kids were trying to work out how they’d make the Rapunzel doll with pull-out hair (like the hairdressing ones), but were concerned about how you could cut it and make it go brown. Merchandising is built into these movies. The wonderful chase sequence through the collapsing wooden mine workings made me think, ‘Ah! That’s the ride!’ Though simpler would be the “lift” effect ride based on Rapunzel’s tower.
My standard test for kids films is “Would I watch it anyway?” Yes. It’s a film I’d gladly see without kids in tow. A great Disney movie. The best Disney movie is always the one saw you at the right age. That’s subjective. Objectively, this is a contender.