By Amy Nicholson
First off: Rapunzel is not a princess. She considers herself a cloistered middle-class girl. Disney’s over that la-di-dah simpering; they want a beauty who can clonk a guy with a frying pan. Which Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) does the first time she meets Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi), and with good reason. He’s a cocky thief who’s just broken into her secret tower—more proof that all the good ones are taken. (Though Prince Charming would probably be a jerk if Snow White and Cinderella had bothered to get to know him better.) If anything, Tangled is hommepowerment—one more step forward in Disney’s slow march to treat male suitors like equals, from its early nameless princes to the passing characterization of Princes Phillip and Eric in Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid, to here, a dude with a full-on personality and nearly equal screen time. The flick itself is winningly formulaic down to this DisneyBot 2010′s cute animal sidekick (a lizard—but it’s the snotty horse who steals the show). In 3D, the animators do amazing things with Rapunzel’s hair, sending it winging around the walls like liquid gold. And after she braids it up with flowers to blend into the masses, mothers across the country will steel themselves for their daughters whining to have their hair fixed like that for school. Those moms will need to watch their step. The villain here is Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), who, like the German fairy tale, has stolen the girl as a baby and raised her as her own. To keep her in the tower, she’s raised her to be insecure and timid, like a helicopter mom who won’t let her 16-year-old get a license. Their push-pull dynamic is the thrust of the movie—how hard is it to beware the woman who coos “I loves you”—and makes the flick feel more modern than we’re used to from a Disney flick, like a meaty episode of Dr. Phil disguised in a chirpy cartoon. Know a kid who can’t cut the apron strings? Buy them a ticket.