Riva/Presents Extra author Heidi Rice has a ball at the new Disney animation Tangled... A re-telling of the Rapunzel fairytale with a fabulously modern romantic twist and seriously gorgeous hair action.
Now, you all know I'm a sucker for a good cartoon. I'm a bona fide Pixar stalker and I've also got a huge soft spot for some of Disney's recent 2-D animation, so I was kind of expecting to enjoy Tangled, Disney's new version of Rapunzel.... What I hadn't expected though, not being a huge fan of traditional girl-meets-her-prince charming fairytales (I know, how can I call myself a romance author!!) was to absolutely love it. But I did.
Why? Well apart from the fact that there's oodles of gob-smackingly spectacular computer animation (which somehow they've managed to give the magical quality of their drawn-animation of old), a rip-roaring script with enough action, comedy and romance to keep six-to-sixty-year-olds on the edge of their seat and Disney's usual attention to the details of great storytelling, what I really enjoyed about this movie were the characters. Particularly their cute and kooky Rapunzel who despite being walled up in a tower for most of her life and having seriously unwieldy hair is surprisingly feisty (and is a dab hand with a frying pan). And I also adored her hero, who's not a Prince Charming at all, but a roguish thief called Flynn Rider (well, actually that's not his real name, but by the time you find out what his real name is — and it isn't all that heroic — you'll love him so much you won't care) who happens upon Rapunzel's tower while on the run, climbs up to stash his stolen goods and ends up getting bashed on the head with a frying pan, shoved in a cupboard and eventually bound to a chair with Rapunzel's mile long tresses and thrown out the window!
As romance authors and readers, we all know that in the end the success of a story is all about its characters — and these two are so vividly drawn (and I mean that metaphorically as well as physically) that you'll be rooting for them both right from the start of the picture. Best of all, this is definitely not a love at first sight story....
See, this is what I think I didn't like about the Disney versions of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, the animation is beautiful, the story sweet and the characters about as three-dimensional as their drawings. Their love affairs are far too perfunctory. She sees the Prince and suddenly she's in love. See what I mean, no character development, no real conflict (except of the 'my carriage is going to turn into a pumpkin if I don't get a move on' variety).
With Rapunzel and Flynn, it's not love at first sight, it's extreme irritation (complete with frying pan battery and hair bondage). These two have to work at their relationship and discover things about each other that aren't always simple and straightforward or easy to solve. Rapunzel is a girl who is so innocent she is in many ways a child, and she's on a very fast learning curve about life (and men) when she jumps out of that tower with a bad boy like Flynn at her side. While Flynn is a hero with.... (drum role please)... back story. He has issues (not to mention a very good smoulder). And the moment in a forest glade — after they have survived a spectacular near-death action scene involving flooding caves, bursting dams and an army of mightily irritated armed guards — when Flynn reveals not only his real name but the fact that he has reinvented himself as a charming rogue to bury the vulnerable orphan he was as a child is both sweet and heartbreaking and... well, this bona fide romantic had a little tear in her eye and her teenage sons weren't groaning loudly and squirming in their seats, so the directors obviously got the tone just right!
By the time our two leads get to the King and Queen's castle to fulfill Rapunzel's dream of seeing the floating lanterns that are released every year (in memory of her disappearance, unbenownst to her), she has a new dream and he's sitting right across from her in their little row boat having discovered that not everyone in life needs to be conned or charmed. That people can have genuine emotions, and so can he.
That was a big Ahhh moment... Greatly aided by some really breathtaking animation (which was frankly awe-inspiring in 3-D as the millions of lanterns float past your nose).
I'm not going to give the game away after that, but suffice it to say there's a Black Moment and a triumphant, suitably heroic resolution scene that any great romantic novel would be proud of.
I give you Tangled, a new version of an old fairytale with enough heart and soul (and really amazing hair action) to see it through to the next millennium.
And BTW, I saw the movie at a preview in the London IMAX attended by the two directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard... Who were almost as cute as their film! I'm adding a little piccie of them looking dashing in their tuxes, so don't say I never give you nothing.
Heidi is currently working on (or rather being driven round the bend by) her next Riva. Her newest Presents Extra, Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger, is out in the US in April and if you live in the UK and want a free Riva'd up copy you can pop over to www.datemillsandboon.com and they'll post you one. If not you can download at ebook of The Walk of Fame. Her next Riva, Cupcakes and Killer Heels, is out in the UK in May. Come have a natter on Facebook, her blog or through her website....