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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Tangled

By
John P. McCarthy
Source: Catholic News Service


Bad hair day: Animated characters are shown in a scene from Disney's "Tangled."
After "Shrek," it's easy to forget that filmmakers once played fairy tales straight. Walt Disney, the studio synonymous with such traditional interpretations, offers another enjoyable example in its 50th full-length animated release.

Largely irony-free and lacking the snarky quality of many movies aimed at kids, "Tangled" (Disney) is a throwback Uncle Walt would recognize and applaud. So will families.

Fortunately, that doesn't mean it's static or staid. Enough contemporary touches, in addition to computer-generated animation (projected in your choice of 3-D or 2-D), ensure "Tangled" is an equally dynamic and wholesome vehicle for its "love conquers all" theme.

Following the outlines of the German folk tale Rapunzel, popularized by the Brothers Grimm, the plot is a melange of elements recognizable from "Snow White," "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty." The influence of the "Shrek" franchise is also discernible, without any adverse effects.

A child born to a king and queen possesses golden locks with healing properties, magic for which the infant is kidnapped by the evil crone Mother Gothel (voice of Donna Murphy). In a secluded tower, Gothel raises Rapunzel (voice of Mandy Moore) as her daughter, using her captive's hair to restore her own youth while never letting the girl step outside her prison.

On the eve of her 18th birthday, Rapunzel, though unaware of her true identity, is desperate to escape so she might experience a display of floating lanterns that her parents stage every year to commemorate their lost princess.

Adopting the guise of an overprotective parent, Gothel refuses. But then a boastful young thief, Flynn Rider (voice of Zachary Levi), chances upon the tower after robbing the palace.

With the help of her versatile mane, Rapunzel persuades him to accompany her into the world she's never known and has been taught to fear.

Directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard blend lighthearted romance, vigorous action sequences, and a few rather tepid songs by veteran composer Alan Menken into a pleasant whole. The film's merely serviceable voice work and visuals may keep it from the ranks of animated classics, but the overall package is a good introduction to the Disney formula.

Along with mild swashbuckling violence, the film does include many slapstick pratfalls and cartoon ouches courtesy of our frying-pan- and hair-wielding heroine. Since sun worship seems to be the prevailing cult in Rapunzel's fictional realm, moreover, there's a distinct but inoffensive pagan undertone to the proceedings.

Finally, those shepherding preschoolers should anticipate a few tears during a potentially upsetting climactic scene. Rest assured, however, that a happily-ever-after wrap-up is quickly forthcoming.

The potential of that earlier brief interlude to elicit such strong emotional reactions is proof of the degree to which "Tangled" succeeds.

The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John P. McCarthy is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Maria Goretti: One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti. 
<p>She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class. </p><p>On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. “No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it.” Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger. </p><p>She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack. </p><p>Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria’s mother. </p><p>Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter’s. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, may the medals we wear be constant reminders of the lives they depict. While wearing them, may we be blessed through the saints’ intercession and protected from harm. Help us to continue to spread the messages of Jesus and Mary and the saints and angels.

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