Tangled — the new animated Disney adaptation of the Rapunzel story — is about sex, of course.
The set-up: A magic golden flower is used to heal an ailing pregnant queen, and the daughter she bears is similarly imbued with healing powers, contained in her yellow hair. A witch, who already knows about the flower power and stays young because of it, steals the baby to keep her youthful mojo working. The witch installs the child in a tower and raises her as her own daughter. The magical catch: If the kid's hair is cut, it loses its endowment.
Eighteen years later, the child is the fresh young woman Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore). She dreams of the world outside her tower, and she's also a little terrified of it. Her ostensible mom, Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), has been warning her about how cruel things are beyond her safe home.
But Rapunzel is enticed by mysterious lights that take to the night sky every year on her birthday. She doesn't know it, but they're a memorial of floating lanterns launched by the king and queen to mark their daughter's disappearance. Rapunzel also has a bounty of hair, and mother Gothel is still getting off on the occasional dose of its regenerative power. (The relationship between Rapunzel and Mother Gothel is considerably Jungian.)
Mother Gothel's perfect crime has its foil in the person of Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi, TV's Chuck), a thief who happens upon the tower while hiding from the palace guards, from whom he has stolen a crown — the baby Rapunzel's crown, in fact. Ryder convinces Rapunzel to venture out into the world and promises to take her to the source of the lights in exchange for the crown, which the resourceful girl has beaten away from him and hidden.
And so, off the boy and girl go on their virginity-parable adventure. Mother Gothel warns that the boy just wants the girl's crown and then is going to leave her. And those lights in the sky? What if they're not everything Rapunzel has built them up to be — and what if they are? And Rapunzel's hair? The threat of the girl losing her special power hangs over the entire proceedings.
The fun in Tangled isn't purely academic, though. This is an entertaining movie and one that girls and boys alike will enjoy, with plenty of princess-wish fulfillment for the XX's and swordplay and swashbuckling for the XY's.
The plot takes Rapunzel and Flynn to a kind of Viking alehouse, to a dam-bursting thrill sequence, and finally to the palace. The film also includes a number of masculine voice actors as assorted toughs, such as Ron Perlman, M.C. Gainey, Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett, Paul F. Tompkins — and Richard Kiel.
The songs are mostly well done by multiple-Oscar-winner Alan Menken. The animation is effective, especially the gorgeous climactic flying-lantern scene. And Rapunzel and Ryder? They look like an animated Amanda Seyfried and Adrien Brody.
Opens Wednesday, November 24th