Go Disney and these re-releases at the AMC. Gives me the opportunity to write about them.
It’s been a fairly decent amount of time since I last saw this movie, but I have to say, it’s still firmly in my mind. And wasn’t this Disney’s first computer animated film after the hand-drawn PRINCESS AND THE FROG (2009)? It was certainly a game-changer Disney and set a new direction that would later churn out FROZEN (2013) and MOANA (2016). When I first saw this movie, I loved it. I laughed, I cried, gorgeous animation, wonderful music, it was about as Disney as Disney could get for me.
Fast-forward seven years, and I’m all kinds of excited to revisit this modern classic.
The story, if memory still serves, is about Rapunzel. As a baby princess, she was kidnapped from her king and queen parents for her magically and freakishly long hair. Her kidnapper, convincing Rapunzel that she’s her mother, uses her hair to keep her young and locks her away in a tall tower, convincing her of the dangers of the world beyond, despite her desperate desires to see the world with her own two eyes. Everything changes when a dashing, and charming roguish thief enters her home, takes her out into the world, and romance and music galore.
Man, I’m getting excited just thinking about it.
Here’s the incredible voice talent. Starring, we have Mandy Moore (47 METERS DOWN , and the upcoming RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 ) and Zachary Levi (THOR: THE DARK WORLD ).
In support, we have Donna Murphy (THE BOURNE LEGACY  and SPIDER-MAN 2 ), Ron Perlman (FANTASTIC BEASTS  and HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY ), M.C. Gainey (DJANGO UNCHAINED  and LOST [2004 – 2010]), Brad Garrett (TMNT: OUT OF THE SHADOWS ), and the late Richard Kiel (HAPPY GILMORE  and THE LONGEST YARD ).
Now for the talent behind the scenes. Co-directing, we have Nathan Greno (feature film debut; congrats, sir) and Byron Howard (ZOOTOPIA ). Penning the screenplay is Dan Fogelman, known for DANNY COLLINS (2015) and CARS (2006). Finally, the composer for the score is Alan Menken, known for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2017), ENCHANTED (2007), ALADDIN (1992), and upcoming films ALADDIN (2019) and THE LITTLE MERMAID, no release date announced.
Overall, beyond excited. Can’t wait.
This is my honest opinion of: TANGLED
Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) is a peppy eighteen year old woman with impossibly long blond hair with magical properties, like glowing and healing, wounds or aging. A particular gift that Gothel (voiced by Donna Murphy) has been exploiting since her birth. Gothel kidnapped Rapunzel from her king and queen parents and every year on her birthday, they light lanterns in her memory. She’s long hoped to see the lanterns for herself, but is sadly confined to her tall tower. Meanwhile, a charismatic and charming thief named Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachary Levy) has just stolen a tiara, but is pursued by the Guard Captain (M.C. Gainey) and his horse named Maximus, which causes Flynn to accidentally stumble upon Rapunzel’s tower. The two meet and strike a deal, Flynn takes her to see the lanterns and she’ll return the tiara he stole.
Oh, what do you think I’m gonna say? The movie still holds up. I laughed, I cried, it’s still magical.
Where shall I begin?
This is about the only movie I can think of that explains the magic of the fairy tale (IE: magic healing hair) that makes perfect sense. Her mom was sick, they needed a healing flower, the rarest of the rare, make a soup out of it and wham bam, thank you, ma’am, magic blond hair. And seriously, baby Rapunzel is too cute.
But now, even before adult Rapunzel makes an appearance, we’re gifted arguably one of my favorite Disney characters of all time, Pascal. I love this chameleon. The expressions on his face are beyond priceless. All he does is make little croaking sounds- so I guess I understand why Flynn calls him a “frog” – but his face constantly speaks volumes. I still die of laughter every time his tongue flings out into Flynn’s ear to wake him up. It’s like, after slapping him to wake him up doesn’t work, he’s all like, “Fine, you want me be an animal about this, I’ll be a freakin’ animal about it.” I mean really look at him when he flicks his tongue. His body posture goes full chameleon. Throughout the entire movie, he moves like a person, he does that “fist into palm” threat thing…
Yeah, that. I don’t know what it is about him, but everything that he does just cracks me up. Maybe it’s because of his size and lack of threat that makes him so adorably awesome. I want my own Pascal, but… I’m not a Disney character, so he’s relegated to my dreams. Bottom line, Pascal is awesome, I love him, end of story.
But now we get to the cream of the crop, Rapunzel herself. Once again, I really like this character. Yeah, she’s wide-eyed and dreams of something more than this provincial life, which describes, what, ninety percent of the Disney Princess line-up? But what’s done so well about her is that she’s legitimately funny and kind of dorky. Aside from Moore’s gorgeous singing voice, her comedy comes through. When Flynn gets knocked out by Rapunzel’s now iconic frying pan, and she’s inspecting him for his fangs that Gothel’s built up outsiders to have, she’s beyond hilarious after this. Flynn briefly wakes up and in a panic, she smacks him again with her frying pan, re-knocking him out. Even as I’m typing this, I’m laughing just hard enough for my co-worker to look at me, probably wondering what I’m laughing about. And her attempts at stashing his body in the wardrobe always makes me laugh too. Her hair getting caught in the door, his body falling out and landing on her, slamming the door painfully on his hands and pushing his protruding fingers back inside, GAH! I can gush about this all day. Even her celebratory, “See, Mom? I can take care of myself” ends charmingly funny with her smacking herself in the head with her own frying pan. God, I love Rapunzel.
And Flynn. Complaints first, I think he talks a little too modern for my taste. It’s not as bad as Maui from MOANA (seriously, that Twitter reference still angers me), but he’s the only character that talks like he does. “Me and the kingdom aren’t exactly ‘simpatico’ right now.” Perhaps I’m just a sucker for Levy, as I was a huge fan of CHUCK back in the day, but I love most everything about him. He’s so charming, so funny, and so full of himself, but not in the self-centered kind of way. You know he’s not a bad guy, per se, he just steals so he won’t be in a position to want anything. I think what I love most is that his interactions with everyone around him feel genuine, like how anyone would react in his particular situations. He’s never nasty toward any character, with the humorous exception of Maximus. Perhaps Flynn’s greatest asset is his interactions with other characters rather than himself being particularly great. I love his reactions to Pascal, I love his reactions with Maximus, and of course, I love him with Rapunzel.
Speaking of which, I absolutely adore this relationship between them. There’s instant attraction, but the romance itself takes some time. It doesn’t start off as a “we hate each other” trope, which drives me up the walls when that happens because you’d know that they’re going to get together in the end. There’s tension to be sure, but nothing dumb like that. As they travel together and get to know each other, their relationship naturally progresses to something more romantic. To this day, I think the scene with Rapunzel and Flynn on the boat surrounded by the lanterns while singing “I See the Light” is about the most romantic visual-fest I’ve see out of an animated film in years. It hasn’t been topped since. Although, to be fair, Disney hasn’t really done a romance film like this since TANGLED. WRECK-IT RALPH? MOANA? ZOOTOPIA? Nope, on all those accounts. FROZEN? More of sister-sister relationship thing. The romance was a side note.
And Flynn’s return to the tower to find Rapunzel, this scene still tears at me. He’s been stabbed by Gothel and he’s lying on the floor dying. Rapunzel is refusing to go with her quietly unless she lets him heal him. The desperation in her eyes, her voice as she’s talking to him, and he’s trying desperately to make sure that she doesn’t, so what does he do? He takes a shard of glass and slices every strand of hair, taking away her healing powers. Gothel dies, and so does Flynn. The emotions are so raw and they were each other’s new dream… yeah, I cried again. I can’t help it! Both characters are so lovable and charming as characters themselves and are even better together. It’s a tear-jerking scene!
I suppose the one complaint that I have is that Flynn doesn’t stay dead. Yeah, I know, we wouldn’t want the kids to be traumatized, but… why not treat them like adults? Bambi’s mom was killed and kids are fine today. Why not have Rapunzel take Flynn to the kingdom, reunite with her king and queen parents, and have him have some kind of royal burial and remembered for his bravery and being instrumental in reuniting the royal family? Wouldn’t that be a little more powerful instead of a deus ex machina healing drop of tear that has never been revealed to be part of Rapunzel’s arsenal of healing abilities? Death is a part of life and isn’t that what Disney does well? Helping kids tackle hard subjects and providing a point and giving them something to feel and think about? Even artistically, Flynn’s death would make more sense, especially seven years later and there’s no real plans for a sequel.
But happily ever after works too and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to see him back, but that the sentimentalist in me talking and… well, I’m a sentimental guy. Plus, fairy tale. Can’t expect dark and depressing from them, especially if they’re being churned out by Disney.
I suppose if I had any other complaints about the film is that Gothel seemed a little inconsistent in her writing. Even moreso now, I’m confused as to whether or not she actually cares about Rapunzel. She gives her all these things to keep her occupied and quiet, chess boards, paint supplies, etc, but on her birthday, she wants this special paint made from this special thing that will take three days to get. If Gothel straight up didn’t care about Rapunzel, why give her so many nice things and why go this far out of her way to do something nice for her if she didn’t feel something for Rapunzel? And she kisses her and tells her that she loves her. If nothing else, I would have liked to see more ambiguous feelings from Gothel. She can still ultimately care only about herself and her youth over Rapunzel, but more inner turmoil would have made her stand out and more memorable.
To my understanding, there’s been quite the online debate over whether or not you’re Team Tangled or Team Frozen. Well… okay, I’m sure that’s fizzled out over the last few years, but I’m gonna throw my two cents in anyway. As you can probably guess, I’m Team Tangled. Now don’t get me wrong, I like FROZEN just fine. In fact, let me gloss over what I think it did better. The music is better, there’s just no denying that. The animation is better as well. To be fair though, I can easily see this being why: TANGLED, as I’ve mentioned a few too many times now, was the first computer animated film for Disney after PRINCESS AND THE FROG. I can easily see the creators behind the film deciding to make TANGLED because it was a smaller and simpler story. There wasn’t a need to go hugely over-the-top with its visuals. In a sense, TANGLED could easily be seen as a test run for how the technology looks. That’s not to say the animation department didn’t give it their all, I believe they did, but really look at how gorgeous FROZEN looks by comparison… there is no comparison. Lessons were learned hardcore and they made a visual marvel in FROZEN. And of course, there’s that theme: the strongest love is the love between sisters. That’s never been done before in Disney. It wasn’t some man that saved the girl, it was her sister. That’s a powerful thing to say. There’s also smaller ground-breaks, like the story following a queen (Elsa) as opposed to a princess, and probably does a better job of making fun of past Disney tropes than TANGLED did.
But here’s what pushes me over to the other side of the fence. When I go see movies, ideally, I will be challenged emotionally. My favorite films will often make me think, make me cry, or more impressively, both. While neither film really makes me think necessarily, FROZEN didn’t grab me emotionally. Why? Because the bond between Elsa and Anna is too forced to me. They were close as children, sure, but after the accident, Anna’s memories were erased and their parents locked Elsa up for horrible reasons for years. And in all that time, Anna always held on to her love for Elsa? Seriously, at no point she didn’t give up? Look, I get it, you never give up on family, blah blah blah, but wouldn’t the message of sisterly love be more powerful if, say, Anna was the “villain” of the movie? Her parents are dead, her sister hasn’t spoken a word to her since childhood. There doesn’t seem to be a defined disconnect between the two. Anna is blinded by her nauseating optimism as she’s singing, but as soon as the two sisters are reunited for Elsa becoming queen, that’s when they have a hard time talking? Oh, and the dual “chocolate” thing is not a real connection. That’s like watching FANT4STIC (2015) and watching that montage scene with them eating Chinese food with no dialog and calling that chemistry. Yes, I’m really making the comparison because I believe both elements in question are lazy. I feel like Anna being a little more bitter about how her life has turned out and Elsa spending the movie trying to convince Anna that their separate lives was due to her love for her instead of the other way around as we ultimately got. So because the sisterly love isn’t properly explored in the film, I couldn’t connect to their relationship. They’re fine characters as themselves, but together, it feels contrived. So when Anna is frozen in the climax, I didn’t believe it was over. I knew Anna would come back somehow. TANGLED doesn’t have this problem. From the moment Flynn and Rapunzel meet to the end of the movie, you feel for them. They’re fun and energetic characters themselves, but together, you love seeing them interact and work off of each other. You love how their relationship develops, so when the unthinkable happens, your heart is crushed and really don’t know how it’s going to end. I cried in TANGLED, but I didn’t cry in FROZEN.
And seriously, OLAF ANNOYS THE CRAP OUT OF ME!!! In the name of- … Olaf is not funny. I find him to be my least favorite Disney character in the computer animation era. No joke lands. Josh Gad was funnier in PIXELS (2015) than he was in FROZEN. I can’t even remember Anna’s romantic interest’s name. Not talking about Hans, I’m talking about the other guy. Not Sven the reindeer… *IMDb search* Christoph! See? He didn’t leave a single impact on me, so I can’t even remember his name. Once again, TANGLED doesn’t have this problem. I love the side characters. Pascal, Maximus, the thugs from the pub, I remember the thugs from the Snuggly Duckling better than Christoph! What does that freakin’ tell you?! They made me laugh (except the short thug… he’s the only not funny element in the movie)! The comedy relief in FROZEN didn’t.
So, FROZEN has better animation and better music. But that’s all second fiddle compared to TANGLED, which has better characters, better laughs, and better emotional investment. In my opinion, of course. But again, I don’t dislike FROZEN. I don’t even think it’s okay. It’s a good film. A great film in some areas, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested or excited about the upcoming sequel (just please less Olaf… in the name of all that is holy and sacred, PLEASE less Olaf) but I’m definitely Team Tangled on this debate.
Overall, this still reigns supreme as my favorite computer animated Disney film of the 2010s. For a first outing in computer animation, it’s a stroke of greatness. Does it have its flaws, they’re certainly there and it’s hard for me to deny it. But just like I did seven years ago, I cried, I laughed, the hallmarks of a great movie. Magic, romance, adventure, comedy, wonderful visuals, I’m still seeing the light.
My honest rating for TANGLED: a strong 4/5