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'Barbie as Rapunzel' Tells an Involving Story



Barbie as Rapunzel. Artisan's Family Home Entertainment/Matell Entertainment. DVD and VHS: $19.98.

Sure, the store shelves will be loaded with all kinds of merchandise related to this lavish, computer-animated fairy tale--all those Rapunzel Barbies, fancy dresses, the rose-covered carriage, the cute purple dragon sidekick....

But there's much more going on in this Oct. 3 release than a big fat marketing opportunity. It's simply terrific storytelling.

If Rapunzel's hair moves as one piece and her bunny pal's fur doesn't fluff, the artwork is gorgeously rendered and the characters are quirkily brought to life through the multilayered story and voice talent headed by Anjelica Huston as Rapunzel's evil guardian, Gothel.

An artist, sweet and spunky Rapunzel uses a magic brush to escape her tower prison. She falls for a prince and saves a dragon's life. Meanwhile, the prince's dad has been feuding for years with a neighboring king. Could wicked Gothel be involved? And who are Rapunzel's real parents?

The super DVD bonus features are another surprise: "Dress-Up Rapunzel" is what you might expect. "Rapunzel's Art Gallery," however, is a genuinely interesting tour of paintings by famous artists. A 26-minute documentary, "The Artist in Me," celebrating self-expression through art, is fine enough to be a stand-alone feature. It profiles 19-year-old artist Amanda Dunbar, and other women artists and crackles with the enthusiasm of children, mostly girls, as they create their own art.

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