#23 Tangled

UK theatrical poster
Directed by Nathan Greno
Byron Howard
Produced by Roy Conli
John Lasseter
Glen Keane
Screenplay by Dan Fogelman
Based on Rapunzel” by
Brothers Grimm
Narrated by Zachary Levi
Starring Zachary Levi
Mandy Moore
Donna Murphy
Music by Alan Menken
Glenn Slater (Lyrics)
Alan Menken (Score)
Editing by Tim Mertens
Studio Walt Disney Animation Studios

Whoever cut the trailer for Tangled should be fired–F-I-R-E-D!

It was pretty awful–and I was worried–Matt hated it and refused to got see it.  But Dezi and I kept the faith…John Lasseter as head of Disney Animation would not allow a heartless, corny film to be the studio’s 50th animated feature–right?

Whew!  We were right! Even Matt agreed…Tangled is a fine addition to the Disney legacy and a wonderful film.

It is a clever take on Rapunzel‘s famous fairy tale.  Long locks–trapped in a tower–evil Mother Gothel–falls in love with a prince–happily ever after.  Except….the golden long locks have magical powers–evil Mother Gothel is a master manipulator and traps her in the tower for her own safety (clever and effective)–the prince is a theft (I love an anti-hero)–and they still live happily ever after, but the journey is the fun here.

Mandy Moore is perfect.  She portrays Rapunzel as vulnerable,  yet surprisingly confident and capable.  Zachary Levi is the surprise here.  I enjoy him in Chuck (his TV show), but I loved him as Flynn Rider–cocky, selfish and charming–very Han Solo!  And he can sing!  The duet  “I See The Light” is lovely and now Oscar nominated. (Nice to see Alan Menken back!)  Although my favorite song is “Mother knows Best”.  I want a Pascal (pet chameleon)– and horse just like Maximus–two animal sidekicks (that do not talk) that add to the story and not detract–refreshing.

The story had me laughing, engaged and even emotional.  The directors made smart choices and in turn I cared about the characters.  Rapunzel’s parents have no speaking parts, yet they are strongly effective as a soulful anchor.  Well done!

I have now seen it a few times and love it more each time I see it!  Way to  go, John Lasseter!

#24 How to Train Your Dragon

Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by Cressida Cowell
Narrated by Jay Baruchel
Music by John Powell
Editing by Darren T. Holmes
Studio DreamWorks Animation
Pacific Data Images

Animation frees creativity.  It allows for storytelling without the limitations of conventional film.  Want to explore the ocean with a father, who happens to be a clown fish, as he searches for his missing son?  Done.  Want to create a new interpretation of dragons and have the audience soar across the sky with them? Check.

How to Train Your Dragon uses animation, and 3D, to its greatest potential.  Creating flight sequences that rivaled last year’s Avatar and telling a charmingly funny tale that pits misunderstood dragons against dragon killing vikings.  (Zach Snyder’s Owls of Ga’hoole also did brilliant work this year with 3D flight.)

Although the story follows a common structure–odd son seeking father’s approval and understanding–the setting gives it a new twist.   Add a wonderfully new vision of Dragons and you have a great film.

Jay Baruchel’s young viking Hiccup, is more brains than brawn and creates a contraption that injuries a mysterious, elusive Night Fury Dragon.   A curious friendship develops and Hiccup names him Toothless (for his retractable teeth) and begins to “train” him.

One of my favorite aspects is the personality the filmmakers created for the Dragons.  It is a very distinctive mixture of cat and dog–more cat in my opinion, since I have 5 little “dragons” at home.  From purring to bouncing–it gave them a wonderful, sweet quality.

All the character voices are pitch perfect–from Gerard Butler as the dad to America Ferreria as the love interest–but Baruchel is the star here–his comic timing is well…perfect.

No review would be complete without a singling out the music.  (I have the CD in my car!) John Powell has received an Oscar nomination and it is well deserved.  There is a beautifully scored scene when Toothless and Hiccup first learn to trust each other and touch–it’s breathtaking!

I loved it! And anytime I need to fill my happy meter–I watch it again…that’s the biggest compliment to give!

Resource: Wikipedia