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Movies: Tangled ****

Tangled is Disney's 50th animated feature, and fittingly so as it turns out, because in a way the film represents everything the studio has always done best.

The best Disney features shook the dust off European fairy tales by wittily adapting them for a modern audience, and that's exactly what Tangled does, the tale in question being Rapunzel. In a breezy introductory voiceover, a cocksure vagabond called Flynn Ryder introduces himself and sets out Tangled's stall. A wizened witch called Gothel finds a magic plant grown from a drop of sunlight that has the power to heal all illness and grant eternal youth.

Gothel keeps it to herself and stays young for centuries. But when the kingdom's queen falls gravely ill during pregnancy, the king sends troops into the forest who find and seize the magic plant, much to Gothel's annoyance. The queen is cured and when her daughter Rapunzel is born, she inherits the plant's powers. A touch of her golden hair is enough to cure the sick and banish old age, and when Gothel discovers this she kidnaps the infant and whisks her away to a hidden tower in the forest. Posing as the child's mother, she keeps her locked away and uses her magnificent mane of hair to preserve her precious youthfulness.

Sixteen years later, Flynn Ryder is racing through the forest pursued by royal troops when he chances on the hidden tower. Rapunzel has left her hair hanging out the window, and when Ryder climbs up it the princess has her first contact with the outside world. She persuades Ryder to help her escape, and the pair set out towards her parents' palace, pursued by various enemies.

Tangled is very much Rapunzel via Indiana Jones, and many of the film's set-piece cliffhangers would not be out of place in a big-budget action film. But the movie also boasts a winning sense of humour and is interspersed with catchy, clever songs. It's handsomely if conservatively animated, and ticks every box that an animated fairy tale should.

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