Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tangled (2010)

The ridiculous advertising decision for this movie initially made me not want to support it, since I didn't want to be the one who sends Disney the message "Stop making movies for girls". But some people I know liked it and I read that the animators were inspired by awesome Rococo artist Fragonard, so I gave in. Despite its hip title, Tangled is actually the story of Rapunzel, a teenage princess with hair powered by the sun. She was raised in an isolated tower by Mother Gothel, a youth-obsessed witch who stole the girl when she was a baby so she could use her magic hair to stay young forever.

Rapunzel has no idea she's the kingdom's lost princess, and dreams only of escaping her controlling mother for a few days so she can see the "floating lights" released every year on her birthday. When overconfident thief Flynn Ryder finds his way to her tower, she sees a way out and the two set out to explore the cruel world her adoptive mother has conditioned her to fear. Everyone sings songs intermittently.

As a kid I devoured every fairy tale I could find, and always enjoyed the Disney take on them. Now that I'm a sensible, mature grown-up I still fall for fairy tales and their modernized counterparts, but with a somewhat more critical eye. Rapunzel was never my favorite (she's way too passive), so I was happy to see a new take on the story that makes her much more enterprising and bold. She's a peppy shut-in who uses her oodles of solitude to cook, paint, sing, and learn everything she can along with her silent, adorable pet chameleon. Flynn doesn't save her, just gives her the push she needs to finally leave her prison and experience all that life has to offer. She's a little too mood-swingy and naive to be a really great character, but she is a teenager after all.

The story is sweet enough, cut from the same cloth as most Disney fairy tales with the exception of a slightly more proactive heroine. There's a rushed love story, a few death-defying stunts, an evil step-mother/a villain who falls to her death, and everyone is white and pretty. The dialogue is given a contemporary flavor- presumably to be more accessible to kids today and all their internet Hannah Montana lingo, but I thought as a script tactic it was hit and miss. Sometimes it seemed way too forced, other times I was laughing at the more modern jokes. The music is one of the biggest problems- it is so standard, and so derivative of earlier Disney scores that it's almost laughable. Every time a new song came on I thought, "Huh, there is a song just like this in only that one's more interesting". None of the songs here are memorable, nor do they add much to the story. As much I love musicals, this one didn't need to be one. Alan Menken was phoning it in.

The animation is lovely despite the CGI, with gorgeous painterly backgrounds that are meant to evoke an immersive, 3-D painting in its lush foliage, plays of soft light, and fantastic textures. The character design is typically over the top and a little boring, which is how I feel about the Disney style in general. The scene with the floating lights is honestly drop-dead gorgeous, and one of the most beautifully animated segments I've seen in a while. There was also some nice innovative use of her hair that I wouldn't have expected.

Tangled: It's Middling, But At Least It Has a Lady Protagonist Who Doesn't Suck.


Pair This Movie With: Oh you know, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, the usual.

Further Reading:
DC Girl @ the Movies review (and The Princess and the Frog comparison)
Life in Equinox review

My original art for this film.


  1. I found Tangled very spirited and refreshing - one of the better Disney classic animations.

  2. The cutest and the funniest Disney movie! I love the characters, and Mandy moore as Rapunzel's voice over.

  3. I agree. Tangled is one of the better Disney films to come out recently. Better than last year's "The Princess and the Frog" (though their attempt to allude back to the "Renaissance" hand-drawn Disney flicks of the early 90s is admirable, story lacks). Flynn is the anti-prince with the most personality out of all the princes. And the movie just looked amazing.