The classic tale of Rapunzel gets reincarnated in “Tangled,” Disney’s 50th animated feature. Renamed because the studio felt last year’s “The Princess and the Frog” would’ve fared better had it not had the word “Princess” in the title (to alienate male ticket buyers), “Tangled” infuses the classic story with a strong feminist streak, with former pop-star Mandy Moore taking on the lead role.
“You can’t get more classic than being part of a Disney animated film,” Moore says. “That’s something I’ll have in my back pocket for the rest of my life and I feel so honored, so lucky, to think this film will be around long after I’m gone.”
And it wasn’t just career bragging rights that drew Moore to the project. “I loved having the opportunity to portray a young woman who is so fearless,” she says. “She’s not a victim, she’s not naive; she’s warm and spirited. What I knew about Rapunzel was the damsel in distress who lets down her hair so the prince can save her, and our story flips that on its head.”
That’s putting it lightly, as the film infuses the tale with distinctly modern elements, including hulking brutes with a soft side, mugging animals, pop culture references and a hapless thief (Zachary Levi) in place of the usual dashing prince. It’s all wrapped up in a 3-D computer animation style Disney usually leaves to its studio-mates at Pixar. But at the center of it all is still a girl singing her heart out.
“I love musical theater,” Moore says. “To be a Disney princess has been a total dream come true, but it wasn’t until I got into the studio that I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, how am I going to do this? How am I going to get through this?’”