Ok, full disclosure - I work for the Walt Disney Company. That said, I work in television, and how a film does at the box office has little or no bearing on my job. I am an unabashed fan of Disney, but I don't blindly love everything they put out (I haven't enjoyed a CGI Disney animated film that wasn't made by Pixar, for example). There. That's out of the way.
I'll start with my point - Go see Tangled. Seriously.
Now the details. Melissa and I got the chance to see a preview screening of the movie last weekend. Neither one of us was all that interested in the movie based on the trailers. I was sure it was another attempt to feel "hip" and "young," the exact kind of thing I hate in cartoons. There is no surer way to make a bad movie than to try and make something specifically for kids. Look at Pixar - kids love their movies, but they are truly aimed at adults (except maybe Cars; I don't know many people over the age of 10 who got much out of that one). Kids may enjoy a hip, loud, "in your face" movie in the moment, but like everyone else, it's emotion and character that they really connect with. From what I'd been shown, Tangled looked like a movie that kids would forget five minutes after they left the theater. I am here to tell you I was wrong.
Tangled feels so much like a classic Disney musical that it's hard not to love every minute of it. When I first learned it would be a CGI project, I was bummed out because the hand drawn concept art had been so damn gorgeous. Well, it turns out CG (and even 3D) are used downright beautifully and I never found myself wishing it was a traditionally animated movie. The main characters are rich and lovable and the villain is a masterpiece of passive-aggression that evolves into true aggression. The two animal "sidekicks" effectively steal the show (in the best way possible). The story is a nice twist on a classic fairy tale and engaging throughout. And the songs! I enjoyed The Princess and the Frog, but Randy Newman's lackluster music held it back from being a great movie. Alan Menken is in classic form. Melissa and I recently saw his adaptation of Leap of Faith at the Ahmanson and were mostly disappointed. Clearly his creative efforts went into this movie. I left the theater dazzled and enchanted.
So, if you've been watching the commercials and writing Tangled off as another Shrek clone that will make you cringe with every attempt to cram a catchphrase down your throat, trust me - you couldn't be further from the truth. Tangled is a kind of movie that I haven't seen from Disney (again, excluding Pixar) in a long time - Magical. Go see it. Now.