Tangled: Before Ever After TV Movie Review

Evidently this is the week for Disney expanding upon my favorite animated classics. On Thursday I will see the new take on Beauty and the Beast (for better of worse) and this weekend I saw the TV movie that goes with the new series based on Tangled called Tangled: Before Ever After.

If you’ve read this blog you know Tangled has a special place in my heart. I wasn’t really into animation except for Pixar for years and then I went and saw Tangled in 3D and it blew me away. I loved the characters, songs, writing and being surrounded with those floating lanterns. Tangled is Disney’s first romantic comedy and still boasts their best movie couple in Eugene/Flynn and Rapunzel. I just love it.

With such strong feelings about the original it is probably no surprise I approached this TV movie and new series hesitantly and honestly my response is mixed. I liked some things about it but other parts felt extremely generic and bland.

The best thing by far about it is the visual style and animation. I really think the 2D flash animation is cool and looks inventive and new. I like all the bright colors and the way it moved and flowed.

I also thought the music was decent. It’s poppy but so was the original so it works. The voice cast including Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi is back and they do a great job.

So good animation and music that’s pretty good start for a new series, right?  Well, unfortunately I have some big problems also.

My biggest problem by far is what they did with Rapunzel as a character. In the original she is positive but also real. She’s open with Flynn, a stranger, very quickly, making deals and sharing her dreams. We also see her struggling with her loyalties to her mother and her joys at being free. This makes her feel very real and human.

Also, she is able to entertain herself and be happy in her environment in a tower for years. Yes, she wants to see the lanterns but over all she is positive and upbeat despite being in the tower. The same is true when she meets the ruffians and thugs. Sure she’s scared at first but she quickly becomes positive and warm with them.

So that brings me to my problem with the series. They try to paint her as this disgruntled teenager dying to break free from the bonds of castle life and I don’t buy it. Again, she kept herself happy in a tower for years. I don’t think she would be complaining about a castle especially when she has so many people to talk to and can leave whenever she wants (she goes out into the town with no real problems or penalties).

To make matters more unbelievable she lies to Eugene and spurns his proposals and advances a little bit, which feels completely out of character. This also turns Eugene into a bit of a dope fawning over Rapunzel and her parents into boring strict parents. Max and Pascal are pretty much non-factors in the TV movie.

Surprisingly I’m okay with their somewhat convoluted explanation of how Rapunzel gets her hair back. I don’t know why they decided to go the hair route but I suppose it’s just about as good an explanation as anyone could come up with.

The other problem in Tangled: Before Ever After is not only do they hurt the original characters but the new additions are very forgettable. She has an attendant/best friend named Cassandra who she somehow listens more to than Eugene. I know exactly where her character is going. Bland…

And then there is Lady Cain who isn’t a a listed recurring character so she may not be the villain for long but she was very generic and boring. She’s certainly no Mother Gothel- who is coming back after falling off that tower. Don’t ask me how…

I guess it might sound like I completely hated this Tangled: Before Ever After, but I didn’t. It just annoys me when characters I love are changed like they do with Rapunzel here. It is visually inventive and I see some potential with the songs and voice cast. I hope it will be like Elena of Avalor and build as a series becoming entertaining. However, just on this TV movie I can’t give it a very high grade. I hope for better in the future but there were definitely big problems that I am not happy with.

Overall Grade- C

Ranking Official Disney Princesses

Disney-Princess-disney-princess-33854150-1778-1779

So we have 2 weeks till Big Hero 6 premiere and I will post my Frozen review this weekend (I intend to watch it 5 or 6 times to do a very good job)

In the next 2 weeks I will also be posting lots of top 10 lists culminating in my complete rankings once I see Big Hero 6.  This should be a lot of fun and I would love it if you would share your lists in the comments each time.

Of course, it goes without saying it is just my opinion and most of these are nitpicking.  Out of 53 movies I will give 20 movies an A category grade, 30 with a B or higher  (which is pretty remarkable when you think about it) so I like them all but minute differences lead to my rankings.

I thought I would start with ranking the official Disney Princesses because I love the princess movies. These are not all the women, or even princesses in Disney Canon, that will be another list.   However, I am including Anna and Elsa in Frozen because they are considered princesses in waiting (they have a coronation ceremony and everything).

Some people gripe about Mulan being included but that doesn’t bother me because there are no princesses in China.  If there were she would have been made one in the movie for sure.  She certainly shows all the qualities of a princess so it’s fine with me.

This list also includes Merida from Brave, which I have not reviewed, because she is an official Disney Princess. Also, this is a ranking of the princesses themselves not the movies they are in.

RANKING DISNEY PRINCESSES

1. Belle- smart, thoughtful, compassionate and brave

Princess-Belle

2. Ariel- free spirit, not afraid to take risks, loyal, impetuous

ariel

3. Cinderella- hard worker, good friend, kind, optimistic

cinderella24. Tiana- hard worker, dedicated, loyal, goal setter, soft spoken but bold

tiana5. Rapunzel- optimistic, naive but smart in own way, inquisitive, fun-loving and hopeful

Rapunzel_and_pascal

6. Mulan- Loyal, brave, strong, determined, a fighter

mulan

7. Elsa- Free, empowered, conflicted, learns self acceptance and control, beautiful, strong

elsa8. Merida- bold, impetuous, free spirit, brave, confident,  curly hair

Merida_web_small9. Jasmine- independent, loving., spunky, compassionate

jasmine10. Anna- innocent, sweet, kind, believes in others, impetuous, willing to take risks

anna11.. Snow White- optimistic, kind, positive, happy

snow white12. Aurora- asleep most movie but beautiful, a singer, a dreamer, optimistic, loving and  like her better in blue!

Auroraonmodel13. Pocahontas- loves nature, kind and brave.  Last because she doesn’t change or grow much and her choices actually cause death

Pocahontas-disney-princess-31322105-1280-800

Movie 50: Tangled

Tangled_rapunzel_poster_20

“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!

The Production-

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!)Flynn_Rider

We also get ruffians and thugs which appeal to both girls and boys and they are fabulous.

ruffians and thugs

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 😉

rapunzel happy

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!!

gothel and rapenuzelI don’t have any proof this but I wonder if they used Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods as inspiration particularly for Mother Gothel.

Into-The-WoodsIn 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.

The Story-

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.

Maximus

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.

lanterns

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.

ending rapunzel
The perfect way to end a romantic comedy with a couple laughing and kissing!

Movie Review/Conclusion-

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!!

Everything Wrong With “Tangled” In The Time It Takes You To Read This

Just like Beauty and the Beast has huge plot holes but I do not care, Tangled does too. So everyone who whines about Frozen plot holes- they all do. I was going to write about it but he does it so well why bother? Enjoy!

Tangled rocks!!

I also wonder how Mother Gothel knew the song?  And why does Mother Gothel tell Rapunzel her birthday especially if she knew they were sending out lanterns for her on her birthday?

Also wouldn’t the hair stop Rapunzel from growing too if it reverses aging in Gothel?  All that is needed is the song so why didn’t she just stay a baby? Hint…there wouldn’t be a movie then!

Mother Gothel also doesn’t do a very good job brainwashing her daughter. She has complete control of her education. She could tell her stars are magic or ruled by wizards. Whatever. She has NO access to any outside world so in a way Mother Gothel is too nice in raising Rapunzel. (Ha never thought about it that way I bet!)

So enough talking about plot holes . Deal with it and enjoy the movie.

My review is coming…Hint, hint- I’m a fan!

The Reclusive Essayist

I still remember prior to and after “Frozen” came out, it immediately drew comparisons with Disney’s previous foray into the world of Disney Princesses, “Tangled”. Fairly apropos, considering the art style was identical and Anna and Rapunzel are more similar than not. Some argued, and probably still do, that “Tangled” was the superior film, for reasons of plot holes in “Frozen”. Well…I’m about to set the record straight that for all of the patches that should have been made in “Frozen”, “Tangled” had more than their share.

Again, this is a shameless knock-off of Cinema Sins. Check them out on Youtube. They’re great if you don’t mind the nitpicking. 😀

Everything.

Wrong.

With.

“Tangled”

In the time it takes you to read this or less.

SPOILERS!

(duh)

Movie trying to take itself fairly seriously opens with narration by Eugene, knocking off of “The Emperor’s New Groove” which was…

View original post 2,708 more words