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