"Tangled": The Movie Doesn't Disappoint, But the Blu-ray Does
Walt Disney Feature Animation’s 50th animated feature, Tangled, comes to DVD and Blu-ray disc a mere four months after debuting in theaters. Hitting the big five-oh is a major accomplishment, and one would hope the lucky film would get the proper respect on its DVD release, especially when it’s a solid, well-received movie that outperformed expectations and made a bundle in the box office. But this is Disney. Don’t get your hopes up.
But first, the movie.
Tangled is the story of Rapunzel, a princess with magical, healing hair. She was kidnapped as a child by Mother Gothel, who uses Rapunzel’s 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.
Tangled is a really fun, funny, light-hearted film, though it does get pretty grim and intense toward the end. Yes, it’s a predictable and clichéd film, but really, what do you expect from a Disney fairy tale? Everyone is already familiar with the story, so what you’re really there for is the execution. And Tangled is executed astonishingly well. While The Princess and the Frog often seemed like it was trying too hard to be a Disney Renaissance film, Tangled actually is a Disney Renaissance film. All of the characters are really likable and entertaining (especially the sidekicks, Pascal and Maximus), and the jokes are funny. It’s a musical, too, despite the way Disney marketing tried to hide that fact, and while the songs are enjoyable, I don’t feel like they are that catchy compared to say, The Princess and the Frog. Although I originally had a problem with the title (it was originally going to be called Rapunzel or Rapunzel Unbraided), I now think it fits quite well, because it isn’t just Rapunzel’s story. In fact, Flynn actually has the bigger character arc. While I originally thought changing the name was misleading, now I’m of the opinion that calling the film Rapunzel would’ve been misleading. Not to mention the name change possibly got boys in the seats and may have helped the movie become financially successful.
But the animation stands out, and as is to be expected looks absolutely extraordinary on Blu-ray. It is by far the best CG character animation I have ever seen, and the first time I’ve ever seen CG animation that actually felt like classic hand-drawn Disney animation. The human animation, the hair, everything: it’s just gorgeous. This is worth getting just for the animation alone.
It’s not worth getting for the extras, unfortunately. Wow, these are a letdown.
Let’s see. We’ve got three mildly amusing deleted scenes with the directors explaining why they were cut. While not fascinating, it does explain why there’s a fortunetelling monkey in the end credits. The disc also includes two alternate openings that would’ve used the traditional storybook framing device like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty did. I personally would preferred the second alternate opening over the Flynn voiceover one used in the film, but that’s just me. Then there’s the ’50th Animated Countdown’, which is just a short clip going through all fifty Disney films in the Disney canon that appeared online when Tangled hit theaters. Two extended songs are included as well, though they’re barely extended. More interestingly, though, is how the footage used is a work-in-progress reel, which also reveals that some of the hair was hand animated and then CGed over. I’d have loved to have gotten a picture-in-picture feature like this for the whole movie, as with The Princess and the Frog, but unfortunately, no luck there. Next up is “Untangled: The Making of a Fairy Tale” a 12-minute making-of hosted by Zach Levi and Mandy Moore obviously aimed at the kiddies. It’s really watered down, offers almost no information, and half the time is spent asking the audience questions and waiting for them to respond, à la Dora the Explorer. Irritating. Rounding out the disc are a bunch of Tangled teasers, many which use original animation, so it’s nice to see those included, and some ads for other Disney products. The Blu-ray also includes a DVD copy of the disc which has the two alternate storybook openings. That’s it.
Where did they go wrong? The Princess and the Frog, a movie Disney considers a flop, gets a director commentary, decent featurettes and a picture-in-picture in-progress version of the film. Tangled, the more successful of the two, doesn’t get any of those. And with Tangled‘s long and troubled history, there is so much to draw on. So I think this was a rushed job and we’ll be getting a double dip some five years down the road. Why do I think it’s a rushed job? No kiddie game or teenybopper music video.
Tangled is both a fairy-tale film and a musical, and be it wrong or not, that’s what people think of when they think Disney. It deserves its spot as Disney Feature Animation’s 50th animated feature, and while it’s not the greatest Disney animated film ever made, it is a really solid movie and can hold its own up to most Disney Renaissance films. While it will probably be rereleased at some point in the future, that may not be for a while. Despite the lack of special features, any Disney animation fan owes it to themselves to go out and get a copy of this film. You won’t regret it.