"Tangled": It's Everything I Hoped 'The Princess And The Frog' Would Be!
The best way I can describe Walt Disney Feature Animation’s Tangled, its fiftieth animated feature, is to say it’s everything I’d hoped The Princess and the Frog would be. While The Princess and the Frog often seemed at times like it was trying too hard to be a film from the Disney Renaissance, Tangled actually is a Disney Renaissance film, and seems to pull it off effortlessly.
Tangled, as the movie is stupidly named (I’ll get to that later), is about a princess (shh… it’s a secret) named Rapunzel who has magical healing hair. She was kidnapped as a child by Mother Gothel, who uses her hair to make herself young. Gothel lies to Rapunzel about her true origins and keeps her locked up in a tower so no one ever finds her. But every night on Rapunzel’s birthday, the king and queen send floating lanterns into the sky to let her know they’re still awaiting her return. While Rapunzel sees these lanterns every year, she doesn’t know what they are or what they represent and dreams about finding out. Meanwhile, a dashing, cocky thief, Flynn Ryder, is on the run from the palace guard after stealing a crown and decides to hide in a tower. It’s Rapunzel’s tower, of course. So Rapunzel hides Flynn’s crown and tells him she’ll only give it back to him if he takes her to see the lanterns. Flynn reluctantly agrees, and together they go on a wonderful journey of self-discovery.
First off, Tangled is fun. Just immensely ear-to-ear-smiling fun. It’s for the most part a lighthearted film, though it does get pretty intense at some points near the end. Is it predictable and clichéd? You bet! But what did you expect from a Disney fairytale film? You already know the story what you’re there for is the execution. And Tangled is executed extraordinarily well. All of the characters are really likable and entertaining (especially the sidekicks, Pascal and Maximus), the jokes are funny and the music is great. Yes, it’s a musical (shh… that’s a secret too), but while the songs are all really good and enjoyable, I didn’t feel like they were that catchy compared to say, The Princess and the Frog. Don’t get me wrong, the songs in Tangled are still better songs than those from The Princess and the Frog. They’re just not as catchy.
One thing that really stands out is the animation. It is by far the best CG character animation I have ever seen. This was classic hand-drawn Disney animation turned GC. I personally would’ve preferred it hand-drawn, of course, but it is done so well that it turns my wish into just a slight personal preference. The way the hair looks and moves, the human animation, the horse, all of it gorgeous. Even while still watching it in theaters I decided to buy the Blu-ray the day it comes out. Seriously, it’s worth seeing this movie just for its stunning visuals.
Now a word about the marketing. Yes, this has caused quite a lot of controversy. You see, Disney has decided boys don’t want to see a princess movie (thanks to The Princess and the Frog underpreforming last year), so they changed its name, Rapunzel, to Tangled, thinking it would attract more boys. “Rapunzel” hasn’t even been put up on the official Disney Princess website yet (as of this writing) presumably because they’re scared it boys find out, they won’t see it. Not only that but they’ve been marketing it as a Shrekesque comedy when Tangled is in fact the most and first sincere CG fairytale movie ever made, and is quite a relief in the wake of Shrek, Happily N’ever After, Hoodwinked and their ilk. And who better that Disney to be the first?
There’s been talk recently about Disney giving up on making fairytale films and musicals. Tangled is both a fairytale film and a musical, and be it wrong or not, that’s what people think of when they think Disney. It’s not the greatest Disney animated film ever made, but it can hold its own up to most Disney Renaissance films. Will it be the last of its kind? Hopefully Tangled will do well enough at the box office to convince the Disney execs to keep on making ’em, but if not, at least they went out with a bang.