With condolences to Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler in "The Bounty Hunter," Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel in "Life As We Know It," Ashton Kutcher and his 70 co-stars in "Valentine's Day," the year's best romantic comedy has no actors at all.
Not visible ones, at least. "Tangled," Disney's animated musical twist on the Rapunzel tale, has a terrific voice cast that includes Mandy Moore as an exceptionally long-haired teen and Zachary Levi (NBC's "Chuck") as a dashing young bandit. It also features Broadway veteran Donna Murphy as Mother Gothel, an astoundingly evil character who clearly wants to join the Psychotic Disney Mommy Club.
Unlike live-action romances that typically rely on "chemistry," mixing stars together and hoping they'll explode, "Tangled" begins with engaging characters and a clever story - a much better formula. It's based on a fairy tale, but isn't that what romantic comedies are?
In this version, the royal infant Rapunzel is kidnapped by Mother Gothel, who needs the child's magic hair to restore her youth. It works: Eighteen years on, the old lady looks better than Cher. Rapunzel, meanwhile, has spent her life captive in a tower. When the wanted thief Flynn Rider (Levi) climbs in looking for a hideout, she sees her chance for adventure.
These are timeless themes - domineering parent, sheltered child, dangerous boyfriend - all woven together nicely by a crew of filmmakers from the Disney-Pixar trenches. The musical numbers sometimes feel like afterthoughts, but they also lend the movie an irresistibly youthful sparkle: "For, like, the first time ever, I'm free!"