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!!

57 thoughts on “Movie 50: Tangled

  1. Yeah, I love it too…pretty much one of my top Disney movies. To me, it is a romance written right.

    I think the “problem” with the music is that the first song is nothing to write home about. It is good, it does exactly what Menken wants it to do, but it doesn’t exactly make a splash, and first impressions counts. Mother Knows best is more menacing in the reprise, because during the first time, Gothel can’t go really menacing, it wouldn’t fit the scene. Overall, I love the soundtrack. It might not have one of Disney’s big hits and ear worms, but it uses the music exactly like it should be used (well…duh…it’s Menken after all) and has one of the most beautiful score in the whole canon. “Kingdom dance”, “The Tear Heals”, I didn’t pay so much attention to the actual score of a movie since Beauty and the Beast.

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    1. I’m glad you mentioned the score because it is fantastic.
      The songs are more pop in feel like Tarzan, but I also really enjoy them and I think Mother Knows Best is so manipulative rather than menacing. We all know what she is doing but Rapunzel doesn’t which is gold for a movie. It makes the song so wicked- a mother leading her child astray, manipulating her. What a brilliant villain!

      If I was just going on what movie I want to rewatch the most often Tangled would be my favorite! I’m glad you love it too!🙂

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      1. I think the effect is quite chilling, because “Mother knows best” basically does sound like the stuff mother tell their children. It’s really a fine line between “being worried” and “manipulating someone into something”.

        Well, you read what I wrote about Rapunzel and Tangled, so there is no need to repeat again why I appreciate the story so much.

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  2. Awesome review once again! Yeah, I at least give this one an A because I definitely liked it better than Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet, I can tell you that. Want to hear a possibly interesting story? I went to a Disney On Ice Show last year at Christmas. Anyway, Tangled was one of the films in the show and they of course performed then all. I sang along to all of them except for “I See The Light”and “Mother Knows Best” even though I like those ones as well. (Oops for me singing along to the songs! Guess I just got carried away).

    By the way, did you see see the bonus feature on this movie where they show a clip from every single Disney film at least up to Tangled?

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    1. Fun! Go ahead and sing along! I did it when I saw Les Mis in theaters, quietly but I did.

      I did see that bonus feature and really enjoyed it. They did a smaller version of it at the theater and I don’t think many of us realized it was up to 50! What an accomplishment.

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      1. My thoughts exactly! Though I went to another one earlier this year where they had older stuff like Mulan, Aladdin, Pinocchio, you name it. Anyway, I sent a couple videos of me singing along to a couple of the songs from Mulan. Anyway, my mom said that unless the staff asks you to sing along, it’s considered rude to do that since it would likely be distracting to other people in the audience. Oh well! But if you insist, I could maybe continue the mini-tradition anyway. Who knows though?

        That’s awesome that they did a smaller version of the 50 animated feature countdown at the theater that you went to. Are there a lot of movie theaters in the Salt Lake City area where you live?

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      2. How about compromise and sing quietly so it doesn’t distract others?

        There are a lot of theaters by me but it can still be hard to see smaller more obscure pictures. You’d think the home of Sundance would do better in that regard. I wish I got to the theater more. I’ve been 5 times this year- Lego, Apes, Boyhood, Guardians and Edge of Tomorrow. All awesome movies!

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  3. It took me forever to decide whether I’m on the team of people who prefers ‘Tangled’ to ‘Frozen’ or the team who prefers ‘Frozen’ to ‘Tangled’. After days and days of thinking it over, I had to go with the fact that I prefer ‘Tangled’ to ‘Frozen’, although very minutely more.

    The reason why 3 or 5 movies are nominated in the category has to do with the amount of animated films that are shortlisted to be considered to be nominees.

    I take it you’re excited for Disney’s upcoming ‘Into the Woods’?

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    1. I’d agree I like Tangled better than Frozen but both are very strong.

      I still think it is outrageous Tangled didn’t get nomimated. Outrageous!

      So excited about Into the Woods! But I am usually excited about musicals and Meryl Streep is a great singer so I’m hopeful. I think you’ll see some Sondheim influence on both Frozen and Tangled when you see Into the Woods

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      1. Well, if only 3 films had to be chosen, I feel ‘Toy Story 3’ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ deserved the nomination. But, I haven’t seen ‘The Illusionist’ yet, so it all depends on whether ‘Tangled’ is better than ‘The Illusionist’ or not.

        I’ve never even heard of ‘Into the Woods’, much less seen it until I heard about the Disney film. But I’m very interested in seeing it and hoping it has good songs.

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      2. Not a big Broadway fan I take it? Sondheim’s music is different, so it will be interesting to see what someone new to him thinks. He doesn’t write big musical numbers with rousing choruses so I’m curious to see how they pull it off. Sondheim is a musical genius and if you want to see some cool creative work look up ‘John Doyle and Sondheim’. John Doyle is amazing director who has all the cast playing instruments while they preform. Anyway, Sondheim is amazing and so I am excited about Into the Woods. We’ll see if they can pull it off.

        I guess I haven’t seen The Illusionist either but I still think Tangled should have been shortlisted or whatever and been nominated. That said, I usually disagree with the Academy on just about everything so I really don’t care. Oh well.

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      3. Well and the process to be shortlisted is so convoluted and political it’s quite silly. Same thing with the ridiculous system that is used to determine how many Best Picture nominees they have. Groan.

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      4. Eh, I enjoy the Oscars and enjoy making my predictions and all that, so it’s a fun tradition for me. Once in a while, there’s a nomination that I believe was just snubbed, but in the end, I don’t hold the Oscars with much importance, so I don’t get mad/frustrated with any of the categories. I just see it as something fun, a fun event.

        And I enjoy musicals, but I’ve never been to a Broadway play or anything, so all my musicals I know from film adaptations of them: ‘Les Miserables’, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, ‘Oklahoma!’, ‘Carousel’, ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘South Pacific’, ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’, ‘Oliver!’, etc.

        So, I’m looking forward to this ‘Into the Woods’ and hoping it can join my list of musicals I like!

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      5. It’s true. The Oscars can be fun. I guess I just feel frustrated when anyone gets snubbed when they deserve it no matter the competition or award.

        I’m a broadway nut and if you get a chance to ever see one on stage I highly recommend it. Sondheims music is different than other musicals so it will be interesting to see what you think.

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      6. I mean there are people who deserve awards, but the Oscars is a competition between nominees, so maybe even if their performance was amazing, maybe there were more “amazing-er” performances that year.

        Like, people get upset that Leonardo DiCaprio nor Peter O’Toole have won any Oscars. And they are amazing actors, no doubt, but maybe every year that they were nominated, there was always that one other actor who had a better performance than them, hence deserving of the award.

        It’s not putting down Leonardo DiCaprio or Peter O’Toole at all, but it just says that having an Oscar isn’t really the litmus test in determining who’s a good actor or not.

        And yeah, I definitely wanna see a musical play sometime in my life. My fave non-Disney musical is ‘Les Miserables’.

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      7. I don’t know, I would say that I like Frozen to Tangled. Though, to be fair, the one thing I did like better about Tangled than Frozen was the fact that the main characters parents aren’t killed off at some point during the film. Still, I say both are very great films though.

        I agree that it was stupid for Tangled to not get nominated for Best Animated Feature. Though, to be fair, that might have been because they didn’t think it would win, especially against say Toy Story 3.

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      8. Both are great! Totally agree.

        Who knows what they were thinking on Tangled but I think we all agree it deserved the nomination. Oh well

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      1. Will do. I’ve seen it and I gotta tell you, it was definitely an interesting take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. But I won’t spoil anything. Just go see it and you’ll know why is all I can say.

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  4. Another film I enjoyed, but really don’t remember much of. I plan to see it real soon. I don’t feel my thoughts will be any different, because I remember loving that horse.

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      1. Agreed! The horse is great. Still, he does have a little bit or resemblance to the horse in Tangled, except with more personality.

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  5. This film is a good film. Not a favorite of mine, but still a good one nonetheless. I found Rapunzel to be a bit too close to a Mary Sue for my liking, and Flynn was so unoriginal that it bothered me. The story and animation is really engaging, and the characters are likable, though the music is only eh to me. It should have at least been nominated for Best Animated Film at the Academy Awards.

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    1. Right! Totally should have been nominated. And I can totally see why it wouldn’t be everyone’s favorite, but I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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  6. By the way, did you think this film was a little bit similar to films like say Hunchback of Notre Dame or even Little Mermaid?

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    1. Interesting question. Hunchback, No aside from prisoner cooped up. Tones so different. Little Mermaid I dont really see it. Ariel is never confused about her choices. She knows what she wants from beginning.

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      1. Ariel may never be confused about her choices, that’s a given. However, the love song in both films is followed by something bad (I mean what after “Kiss The Girl” in Little Mermaid, the eels flip Eric and Ariel’s boat over and then in “I See The Light” in Tangled, Flynn’s former sidekicks spy on him and Rapunzel, which causes him to hold his kiss from Rapunzel). Yes, you’re absolutely right, all three movies have songs by Alan Menken. Very interesting, as is the case for Beauty & The Beast. Oh, there’s another minor similarity with Beauty & The Beast! In both films, the heroine ends up crying, shedding tears, and brings the love interest back to life. How interesting!

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  7. That’s true. As for the horse thing, I know I’m commenting on Tangled. My point was is that Maximus looks very much like Altivo the horse from Road To El Dorado. However, Maximus has more personality. Does that make sense now?

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  8. I finally got round to watching this film the other day and really enjoyed it. The villain feels fresh and interesting, the two main characters have great chemistry (though I would have liked to see their relationship develop over a longer period) and its emotional scenes really hit the mark. I was especially impressed (and heartbroken) by that little scene with the King and Queen just before the lanterns go up: any dialogue would be totally unnecessary – their expressions tell you everything.

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    1. I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for sharing. I agree with all of your responses. The King and Queen are very well done. I love in a movie when they have the courage to not have the characters speak.

      Tangled does such a great job entertaining all age groups and boys and girls. That makes it such a fun family film.

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  9. I did wish that we could have seen more of the King and Queen – but on the other hand, that could have cheapened how effective they are when they do appear. Have you watched Tangled Ever After? The Queen does get one line there, but it may not count since it’s in a sort-of dream sequence.

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  10. When ‘Tangled’ first came out in cinemas, being the fool I passed over thinking very little of Disney at the time, after all their attempts to get back into 2D animation with ‘Princess and the Frog’ I thought they’d just dropped the ball. Big mistake, as soon as my university friends hosted a Disney themed party, ‘Tangled’ was recommended to me by everyone, many calling it as good as the Renaissance classics. I finally saw it and I’m glad to say it charmed the pants off me! I don’t think they were trying too hard to recapture the Disney feel, even though I’m not sure how much I enjoyed the songs. I know lots of people who enjoy them, but they just seem too poppy for me. But that’s my only real nitpick with it, I guess the songs need time to grow on me.

    I think in many ways, ‘Tangled’ manages to tell a better “abusive parent/innocent adopted child” story than ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’, and while I enjoy that film’s grittiness, grand scale, darker tones and fairly inspiring moments, I have to admit this film just feels a lot more cogent and true to form as far as Disney goes. I’ve heard mixed opinions on the voice acting and many people do recognize Mandy Moore as Rapunzel. But I had the advantage of knowing nothing about the voice actors for this film, went in blind and overall I think what could have been a distraction just went up in smoke before it could materialize! For children and future generations, I think it will be the same for them because they aren’t as exposed to their off-screen personas as most media-savvy people are. It truly is the modern Disney fairytale that audiences have waited for, more so than Frozen if I might say so myself. All in all, I’d say ‘Tangled’ is coming closer and closer to earning its classic status.

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