“I am excited that with Tangled a whole new generation will have a Disney princess experience. I hope Disney keeps up the good work and doesn’t rely only on the brilliance of Pixar.”
That was my thoughts back in 2010 when I saw Tangled. I loved it then, and I love it now. Even though it won’t be my #1 movie, I have to admit if I made a movie, Tangled is the type of film I would like to make.
As Disney’s first attempt to make a romantic comedy (which I love. see my defense here), I love everything about it. It gets the opposites attract, romantic banter, witty dialogue, action, and terrific characters of a Princess Bride but then it adds beautiful music, tons of humor, gorgeous animation, and one of the great Disney villains. I watched it again tonight but I really didn’t need to because I pull it out every couple of months and give it a watch. It’s the best!
There are a lot of reasons Tangled works so well and a lot of that has to go down to choices they made in production. Remember how I said every choice they made in Brother Bear drove me crazy? This is the exact opposite.
For starters, they went traditional fairytale, updated it a little but not as much as Princess and the Frog. Most of the updates they chose had to do with making the film appeal more to boys instead of traditional Princess movies, and each of these choices makes it a stronger romantic comedy.
For example, Flynn narrates the film which means we get to see a lot of his character, making the romantic comedy tension all the more palpable and satisfying. I can totally see Flynn being played by romantic comedy greats like a Cary Grant, Matthew Mcconaughey, Harrison Ford or even Chris Pratt in Guardians- all suave and debonair but really good at heart. Classic and tough to pull off (Mcconaughey failed many times!)
We also get ruffians and thugs which appeal to both girls and boys and they are fabulous.
They were so smart in the script also because Rapunzel is so likable. She does her best to be optimistic and hopeful while basically being a terrified prisoner. That is very likable person. In some ways she is like Cinderella in that way. She is also the ultimate homeschooler- self educated in every way 😉
And the villain, Mother Gothel, is one of Disney’s best. Here Disney had the guts to make a mother evil, and not only that but she uses the very ‘maternal’ nature of mothering to manipulate her daughter. If you really think about it it’s kind of twisted- brilliantly twisted!!
In the play Gothel (or the Witch) is even more manipulative and sings a song called Stay with Me to make sure Rapunzel knows how devastated she will be if she is left alone. Another song is called The Witches Lament and I think you will see similarities between it and Mother Knows Best:
In the Sondheim version she is even kind of bitter with Rapunzel for not appreciating all she did for her. A true sociopath. You get pieces of that in Mother Gothel with wicked humor I love!
The other thing about Mother Knows Best which makes it amazing is it is just 2 characters on a black background for most of the song and yet I am totally engrossed. That’s impressive!
The music was written by the great Alan Menken so no reason to assume he couldn’t have used Sondheim as an inspiration. Lyrics are by Glenn Slater who also has a broadway background.
The rest of the songs feel more like The Lion King or Tarzan with a pop vibe but I really love them.
The fact Tangled wasn’t even nominated for Best Animated Film shows what a joke the Oscars really are. I get why Toy Story 3 would win, and I love How to Train Your Dragon but they only nominated 3 films that year and they didn’t have room for Tangled? The previous year they nominated 5!
The voice cast is all great with Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Brad Garrett, Ron Perlman, and Jeffrey Tambor.
I thought I would try something different for this review. I found this video- the story of Tangled in 60 seconds and it basically does just that!
Let’s go over a few of the songs.
After our introduction to the story by Flynn, we meet Rapunzel with When Will My Life Begin and it does what Menken and Ashman used to do- like the song Belle in Beauty and the Beast it introduces a ton of narrative within the song, while creating an incredibly appealing lead character. As an audience we feel connected to Rapunzel quickly.
Next is Mother’s Knows Best which I talked about before. Flynn arrives and needs to make a deal with Rapunzel to get his satchel of a stolen crown back (classic romantic comedy plot device a bargain, deal, bet, swap gimmick to get story going and force leads to be together).
We also get introduced to Maximus, the rigid Kings guard horse, who is hilarious in his dogged behaviors and determination.
Romantic comedies always have engaging side characters and for a story about a thief and a girl in a tower I think they came up with a lot of them and unlike Princess and the Frog they don’t make the movie feel cluttered but are included just enough.
Some of those side characters are the roughians and thugs which brings us our next great song I Had a Dream. Perfection!
Eventually they break free and end up almost drowning, Flynn finds out about her hair and they finally make it to the lights.
This scene with the lanterns is one of the best in all of Disney and in 3D it was breathtaking (I saw it twice in 3D and I have a lazy eye so I usually hate 3D!)
We then get a terrific final act with Mother Gothel continuing to manipulate Rapunzel. This Mother Knows Best Reprise is so chilling and well sung by Donna Murphy.
The ending is so well done and just like a good romantic comedy should we want things to work out so badly for Flynn and Rapunzel but it seems hopeless until the bitter end. Flynn and Rapunzel understand each other better than any other Disney couple and I have more confidence in their marriage being a success. It’s one of the great Disney couples.
I really have little criticism for this film. As I’ve made abundantly clear in this review I love all the choices they made. I love the romantic comedy storytelling. I love Flynn and Rapunzel. I love the side characters and I LOVE the villain.
The music is great, animation stunning especially the lanterns, the humor all works. I guess if I was going to nitpick I’d say the eyes could have been a little smaller. That’s it.
For me it is a quick top 10 favorite and probably the Disney I could and do rewatch the most frequently. I love it!
Overall Grade- A+
Oh and Disney is coming out with Into the Woods at Christmas I believe . Yippee!!