REVIEW: Tangled

13 01 2011

The Disney charm gets cranked up to 11 in “Tangled,” the studio’s 50th animated feature in its illustrious history.  The retelling of Rapunzel earns its place in a lineup of classics by combining the strengths of the many films that came before it.  Combining the familiarity of a fairy tale, some toe-tapping musical numbers, and the boundless possibilities of computer animation, the movie is an undeniable joy to watch.

Every Disney tale has a twist from the storyline which takes it in a more dynamic direction, and what lifts Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) off the page and onto the screen is the revelation that her long hair has healing and rejuvenating powers.  Of course, this means that the old hag who desires to be youthful forever hoards her away in a tower so that only she can exploit the hair.  She yearns for contact aside from her lizard Pascal and greedy stepmom almost as much as she wants to get out and see the city and kingdom for herself.

Enter Flynn Rider (voice of Zachary Levi), an outlaw with a more gorgeous nose than wanted posters give him credit for and a love of stealing from the exceptionally wealthy and privileged.  After snatching the crown jewels, he hides in Rapunzel’s tower and from there, the adventure begins.  It’s a fun journey with the two of them that begins with her exaltation of grass, trees, and the earth since she has never experienced anything other than the tower.

There are plenty of other interruptions along their trip to the castle for the magical floating lights, often times accompanied by fun, engaging songs from Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” among others).  While you don’t leave the theater whistling them, you sure get into the rhythm while watching.  Great supporting characters are hardly in short supply, with a group of jolly giants, a diaper-toting dwarf, and a proud horse with a personality through the roof leading “Tangled” to heartfelt hilarity.  While it may not be quite at a classic level, it leaves a trail of happiness as long as Rapunzel’s hair.  A-

REVIEW: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

4 01 2010

I know my legitimacy will be seriously tarnished by this statement, but I cannot be ashamed to say it.  The “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies are kind of a guilty pleasure.  Dare I say it, those dastardly little rodents are actually kind of adorable.  I think it springs from repeated viewings of “The Chipmunk Adventure” on TV when I was a child.

Don’t get me wrong, you won’t catch me saying that “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” is something great, because it isn’t.  I found the sequel’s main triumph to be that it was fairly bearable for me.  My 9-year-old brother and the rest of the theater found it absolutely uproarious, so mission accomplished where it matters the most.

Props to Jason Lee for figuring out a way to minimize his role in the movie by breaking his leg and passing off custodial duties (unknowingly, I must add) of the rambunctious chipmunks to the lazy gaming loser played by Zachary Levi.  The singing sensations have more on their plate than bad guardianship.  They have to deal with (a dismally stereotyped) high school, where they are met with unfamiliarity and hostility among the guys.  Attraction and rivalry mix when they meet the Chipettes, a group of singing female chipmunks trying to take down the male trio.  The Chipettes have the aid of Ian (David Cross), the Chipmunks’ former manager who was cruel and manipulative.  Crazy antics ensue, but I must say that I was very proud of the filmmakers for only having one crotch hit!  Who knew that family comedy was possible without it?  (I do have to add that seeing Anjelah Johnson from the YouTube video “Nail Salon” seriously made my day.  Thank you, casting director.)

It’s unfortunate that the Chipmunks have come to popularity once again in the YouTube era.  If a singer releases a song nowadays, there’s a chipmunk version on YouTube within minutes.  Ranging from Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK” to, reprehensibly, the tunes of “Les Miserables,” these technical sorcerers render the official Chipmunks’ covers increasingly irrelevant.  Nevertheless, it excites the kids, and if you are taking them to see “The Squeakquel” instead of some other child-safe movie, clearly you don’t care about your own entertainment.  C- /