We all know the classic tale of Rapunzel. A barren couple are blessed with a beautiful baby girl and a witch demands the baby from the couple in exchange for the husband’s freedom (as he had tried to steal a certain plant from her garden). The witch, Mother Gothel (a common German term for grandmother), raises the child as her own naming her Rapunzel and locks her away in a tower on her 12th birthday. One day, years later, a prince riding through the forest becomes enchanted by her singing voice and through watching Mother Gothel learns how to reach the tower with the unforgettable “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair”. They concoct a plan to escape which is foiled by Mother Gothel who cuts Rapunzel’s hair and lays in wait for the prince. The prince visits that night and is horrified to find Mother Gothel instead and leaps from the tower and blinds himself on the thorns below. He wanders aimlessly for months until one day he hears Rapunzel’s voice and they are reunited, her tears restore his sight and they leave for his kingdom where they live happily ever after with their two children. This is the original Brothers Grimm telling of this timeless classic.
Disney, in celebration of their 50th cartoon, decided a re-telling of Rapunzel was the way forward. This story surprisingly has never had the Disney treatment. They have of course taken some liberties with the original tale and modernised it. What a fantastic job they did! The script is witty and sharp and far more intelligent than expected. The animation is simply breathtaking. The songs are catchy and have a more Disney classic feel and this is due to the songs being penned by Disney vet Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast).
The characters are well-developed and instead of Prince Charming, we get a cocky thief Flynn Rider (Levi) who collides with Rapunzel’s (Moore) frying pan as he escapes from the palace guards into her tower. There are no talking animals in this one but with fantastically hilarious characters such as Maximus, the palace horse determined to capture Rider, and Pascal, the chameleon that has befriended Rapunzel, who needs them?
There is humour, there is depth, there is adventure, fantastic repartee between the two lead actors, a great supporting cast (Donna Murphy as Mother Gothel is inspired) – you have the makings of a brilliant Disney adventure that will not disappoint. Yes, it is formulaic in its plot but this brings a feeling of nostalgia rather than annoyance. The kids will enjoy this just as much as the adults will.
One of the best offerings from Disney, in the classics department, since Beauty and the Beast, with a 21st-century twist alive with rich characters caught up in some hilarious escapades on the hunt for new life and eventually love.