Rapunzel: I’ve been looking out a window for 18 years dreaming about what it might feel like when those lights rise in the Sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?
Flynn: It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then?
Flynn: Well that’s the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream.
After my love of Bolt and The Princess and the Frog, I promised myself that I would go see every Disney movie in the theater. Then I saw the first promo poster for Tangled, and saw the first trailer, and I decided not to go see it.
Well, to be fair, you have to go back to the beginning. I had actually been following this movie in development (much like I had for Frozen). It seemed so interesting: a new CGI thought to look like oil paintings, Kristen Chenowith was connected as Rapunzel, and a very Disney return to what seemed like a “normal” take on a Fairy tale.
Then that all changed. Kristen was out, Mandy Moore was in. It was no longer “Rapunzel” but “Tangled,” and it had more attitude. Disney explained that was in response to trying to pull in the male audience, as well as making them realize that this movie was about more than just the character of Rapunzel. It was also about Flynn Rider.
I was a little miffed, so when the movie came around, I didn’t bother to see it. When it came out on Blu-ray, I did break down and see it, and suddenly, I was regretting all the hatred I had toward the choices they made. Why? Let’s find out, but first, a nice quick recap of the movie:
We open not with Rapunzel, but with a magic flower and an introduction to our eventual villain. You see, this flower has magical powers to heal and restore youth. An old woman named Mother Gothel finds the flower and uses it for years (it actually seems like a long time). In the meantime, a kingdom grows nearby, the Queen gets pregnant, and grows sick. The king sends the soldiers out to dig up the flower to save the Queen. The baby is born and somehow has the power of the flower in her hair. Mother Gothel tries to cut the baby’s hair to take the magic for herself but soon finds out that the power is in the girl, not the hair, and that cut hair loses its power. So in her own selfish impulses, she steals the baby and places her in a tower and shields her from ever finding out who she really is.
The movie then skips forward 17 years later where we meet Rapunzel, who is going stir crazy and wants nothing more than to see the floating lights that just so happen to show up every year on her birthday (they’re actually lanterns the king and Queen let go). Her “Mother” tells her that the world is a dangerous place.
Meanwhile back at the kingdom, we meet our other protagonist, Flynn Rider, a their who has just made off with the crown. Upon his escape from the kingdom, he comes across the tower Rapunzel is in, breaks in, and is promptly knocked out with a frying pan and tied up. She hides the Sachel with the crown in it and makes a deal with him that if he takes her to see the floating lights, she will give him his prize back. He agrees, and the two are off on their adventure.
They deal with roughians that aren’t so rough, guards from the palace that are after Rider (he is after all a wanted criminal), and a scheming mother Gothel, but eventually they get to the kingdom, see the lights, and of course, on the trip they each have a change of heart, and Rapunzel gives Flynn the sachel, knowing he won’t just up and leave her.
But all that changes when Mother Gothel’s scheme gets put into place. She uses Flynn’s old accomplices to pull him away. They beat him up, tie him to a boat and send him to the kingdom to get arrested all while Rapunzel thinks he’s running. They then “attack” her, and Mother Gothel comes in to save the day and she willingly goes back to the tower.
It is then that Rapunzel has an epiphany that she’s the missing princess, and confronts Gothel about what happened. She comes clean about what happened to Flynn and how it was a setup. But lucky for him, as she’s explaining this we see the roughians break him out and head to the tower to rescue Rapunzel.
Will Flynn rescue Rapunzel from the now self-proclaimed bad guy? I don’t exactly want to give away the end. Let’s just say I’m not familiar with the story of rapunzel, and I found myself crying….
This movie has a lot going for it. It has good characters, beautiful animation, and a story that, while a road trip story, is easy to understand and follow. It also has a lot that I personally think do not go well in this story. Let’s see if we can sort through it.
First off, as much as I liked to complain about Mandy Moore as Rapunzel, as soon as I saw the movie I was taking back everything I thought. Not only is her voice acting incredibly good, but the character of Rapunzel is almost impossible not to love. She’s been shut in a tower all her life, but she still has curiosity and drive to see the world around her. She’s brave and smart enough to score a deal with a criminal, and she is optimistic as hell! Every new thing that happens to her is the best thing in the entire world, and even if she’s afraid of something, she’s not willing to just accept it for what it is. She’s willing to stand up for herself and throughout the movie grows the confidence through her adventures to let that part of her personality shine through. Watching the movie, you can’t help but smile when she’s on screen. She is an infectious character.
Flynn Rider is also another really important character, and I do have to admit that Disney did an amazing job on him. Throughout the history of Disney, the “princes” or male characters have ranged from completely and utterly boring (snow white and cinderella’s princes, I’m looking at you!) to underutilized (Sleeping Beauty’s Philip) to just not developed (Little Mermaid’s Eric). Very rarely we get a prince who is very well done, but that’s only when they’re the main character of our story (Aladdin) or so central to the story that they couldn’t NOT develop them well (The Beast).
I am not afraid to state my opinion on this (and I’m ready for the backlash): other than the Beast, I really think Flynn Rider is the best developed male character (prince-wise) Disney’s ever created. Naveen in Princess and the frog was good, but I think Flynn is better.
What makes Flynn so good? He has an interesting back story that actually explains why he acts the way he does. He has drive just like Rapunzel does. He has an actual personality that doesn’t feel like a complete cliche (Naveen felt like that). He’s funny and sarcastic and questioning of anything and everything that doesn’t seem real. He’s sure of himself but at the same time he’s hiding his real self from everyone. It’s all a front, and he does it so well it actually becomes his personality until he’s had a change of heart and realized that maybe he can trust someone.
These two for me really make this movie. You see how the two change and play off each other throughout the movie, but i don’t know, they seem more “real” to me than a lot of other Disney couples. You understand why they grow to like each other. It doesn’t feel forced, and I like that.
Along with Flynn and Rapunzel on their journey we have the joyous return of hilarious and well done sidekicks. Again, not that I hate the sidekicks in Princess and the Frog, but Pascal and Max are just so much better! And I honestly think that reason is because of one thing: They don’t talk! I don’t know why this is better – maybe it’s because you rely more on physical humor and facial features than writing good lines. It’s just my opinion, but Pascal and Max are awesome. Especially Max. My husband would watch this movie with me every time because he says Max and Flynn make him laugh.
Now I’d like to mention the one character in this movie that I really can’t stand: Mother Gothel. She is seriously the WORST Disney villain EVER. She’s annoying. the way the lines are delivered is annoying. The way she goes through the whole movie possibly telling Rapunzel and herself that she’s “going to be a bad guy” is annoying. I just… ugh. I can’t do it. I understand why they thought they had to make her like this: I understand the baby-talk because she doesn’t respect rapunzel, or the blatant disregard because she only really cares about her hair (seriously, watch the movie – every time Gothel is nice to Rapunzel, she’s directly talking to the girl’s hair!). But other than the fact she’s annoying, I just don’t find her all that… evil. In the grand scheme of things, there are so many better villains.
So the characters are (for the most part) are good. What else is good? The animation. This is the most beautiful CGI animation I have ever seen in a Disney movie. They made it look like an oil painting, and they succeeded brilliantly. I mean, look at this!
Another place they succeeded is with the script. This movie is quick and witty without being inappropriate. It’s funny but smart funny. The voice actors did an amazing job in the delivery (Zachary Levi is a big reason this movie succeeded in its hilarity, btw).
Before I get into the wishy-washy sort of good/not so good stuff about this movie, I just do want to say that I think it is interesting that this movie doesn’t really have a huge lesson. I mean it does have a lesson: you can’t be afraid of all the stuff outside because if you shut yourself in that’s not really living. You need to put yourself out there and have experiences and get hurt. But at the same time, this movie doesn’t stress the lesson. It’s not central to the story. In the end, this story is just a fun adventure romance and almost a coming of age tale for both characters. And there is nothing wrong with that.
The last thing about this movie I want to talk about is the music, because other than Mother Gothel, most of my “meh”-ness for this movie stems from here. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some great songs mixed in this movie (which I’ll get to in the end) but I feel in Disney’s want to bring attitude to this movie, they did so by jeopardizing any sort of atmosphere that could have existed in the movie. Coming off The Princess and the Frog, which is dripping with atmosphere, it’s incredibly noticeable. This story could take place anywhere at really lots of times, and you would have no idea.
The songs of course lead to this. These songs are much more “poppy” than songs we’ve seen in the past, which in some ways harkens back to old school Disney, but that only works if the songs are good. Now I would be lying if i said I didn’t listen to these songs and sing along, but there’s a difference between enjoyable songs and “good” Disney songs. “When Will My life Begin?” is enjoyable and sets up our story and the monotonous life of Rapunzel well, but I can only think of Mandy Moore when that song’s sun. “Mother knows Best” is just god awful just like the character. (although I will admit the reprise has a certain Ursula-esque moment in it that’s enjoyable). “I’ve got a dream” is… ok. We’re getting better, and dreams are obviously a central part to this story, but it’s still “meh.”
Just when you think this movie has nothing music wise going for it, Disney surprises us. “I see the light” is not only a beautiful song and a well placed song, but everything about that scene, from the start with Rapunzel’s parents holding back tears and getting ready to send the lantern up to seeing Flynn and Rapunzel singing amidst floating lanterns, it is the most beautiful Disney scene since the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast. The shot of the kingdom with the lanterns and the music that goes along with it sends shivers down my spine. It is pure Magic. I would have given anything to see it on the big screen. Oh well.
This movie has a lot going for it, and it’s a good movie to put on if you need a good laugh and a good G-rated adventure. It’s fun, got great and memorable characters, and a few things and scenes that might make you realize that yeah, Disney is getting back on top.
I give Tangled (2010) a 4 out of 5.
Up Next: Wreck-it Ralph (2012)