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Tangled

Year: 2010
Studio: Walt Disney
Director: Nathan Greno/Byron Howard
Writer: Dan Fogelman/Brothers Grimm
Cast: Mandy Moore, Ron Perlman, M C Gainey, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Kiel

I heard great things about this, thought I might watch it, then decided not to. Then the DVD came into my hands so I left it in my pile and thought I'd sacrifice 90 minutes on it. Then I changed my mind again and gave it away. Then I was at a friends' place and they suggested watching it, so I didn't see the harm.

Why the indecision? Three words. 'Kids movies' and 'musical'. What, I asked myself countless times as I nearly gave in, was I thinking? And I indeed winced silently to myself and bore it admirably whenever they burst into song. As far as kids' movies go with their cloying, sledgehammer-subtle morals-of-the-story and pro-American outlook, it was the least bad of many.

There are a lot of parables at play here, one being the story of American itself and its belief that it lives in an unshakable safe haven of security, the rest of the world a hotbed of dangers, cutthroats and killers intend on raping and pillaging it. Rapunzel's (Moore) mother might be successive US political regimes, fear-mongering about the outside world in order to stay powerful and rich – in her case, eternally youthful – on the backs of a scared, submissive populace.

Or the writers might just have extrapolated the Rapunzel legend and wondered why she spent her entire life locked up a tower. It's one of those fairy stories where you're more familiar with the premise than the actual story.

In this version, Rapunzel's hair isn't only long, it's magic, and she's the kidnapped daughter of the kindly king and queen, the evil stepmother keeping her imprisoned because the magic hair keeps her young. But when a handsome thief with the law hot on his trail comes across the tower to hide out, he slowly convinces Rapunzel that the world outside the gates isn't so bad and as expected, love slowly blooms as she discovers her true identity.

In simpler terms it's a story about growing up, leaving the nest, discovering your parents aren't right about everything and that there's going to come a time when you'll have to start taking care of yourself but that the world is a bigger, more exciting place than you'd ever imagined.

All the Disney elements are here, from funny animals to gorgeously rendered images in several scenes that will take your breath away – in this case, the annual flying of the lanterns from the castle.

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