Original Release: November 24,2010
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Directed By: Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Notable Actors: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi and Donna Murphy
Back when we first started this series in July of 2015, I remember looking through the long list of Disney classics and remarking at different ones as we went. Among them, I remember specifically turning to Carl and remarking, I can’t wait for you to watch Tangled. It is SO good and SO much better than Frozen. Now whether I still agree with that second part is yet to be seen as we have not re-watched Frozen, but I still stand by the fact that this film is fantastic. It’s got action and charm. It’s got daring steeds and ruthless vikings. It has one of the best, yet most underrated Disney villains of all time. It has a friggin’ chameleon. Tangled is everything I want every fairy tale film to be, and you’re about to find out why.
All the way back in 2003, Tangled was announced as Rapunzel Unbraided. That title literally hurts my eyes. Years and years of work went into the project with the story changing here and there and at one point, Eisner wanted the film to start in modern day San Francisco and then somehow magically transport to a fantastical world. A week before John Lasseter and Ed Catmull took over the studio, the film was finally shut down and was for all intents and purposes, dead. Luckily, these two visionaries had the bright idea to rehabilitate it and allow the film to be finished. With so many years in production, not to mention all the hair animation, Tangled, as it would be called to make it more gender neutral, cost around $260 million. This makes it he most expensive animated film EVER.
Everything about Tangled just pops from the very beginning. This is an old school fairy tale through and through and from the moment that we see Mother Gothel lose the flower and then steal the baby, we know where things are headed. Rapunzel is instantly likable and it’s great to see just how she managed to waste time up in that tower for so many years. I love the way she cares for Mother Gothel as a mother and how this blinds her to Gothel’s true motives. Once out of the tower, Rapunzel deals with leaving the next just as anyone would. She goes through a complex range of emotions from joy to terror to ecstacy to depression. Rapunzel is a deeply realistic character despite the magical hair bit.
Then there’s Flynn, or Eugene as he is actually named. Easily one of my favorite leading men, Flynn is a man on the run, who hasn’t learned to just settle down. It’s an old trope for sure but I think that Rapunzel being stronger than him is pretty fantastic. It is highly rare that Flynn has to save her from whatever harm has befallen her. I know I talk about it a lot, but I have to stress that this is what I wish The Little Mermaid had done. If you’re going to give the coming of age story of a teen girl, than the girl has to grow up and actually come of age or it doesn’t work. Hiding in the ocean while your boyfriend does all the work IS NOT COMING OF AGE!!! Okay, calm thoughts.
Now there have been a lot of horses that I’ve had a lot of love for in these Disney films, but none quite compare to my love for Maximus. He is so absolutely hilarious. I laugh and laugh every time he acts like a dog. Maximus is brilliantly animated and full of character and every time he shows up, you know that a good laugh is about to start. I also love the moment where he realizes that Flynn might not be such a bad guy after all. I love seeing this character that is really the moral compass of the film and as he realizes Flynn has good in him, so does the audience. It’s a nice subtle guide to lead us in the storytelling.
Mother Gothel is an excellent villain. Not because she’s slightly crazy or super deceptive. It’s because of what she represents. Time for some real talk. As my day job, I work in skin care and every day I meet people who are beautiful, yet hate the way they look. They search desperately for a cream to get rid of that one wrinkle or smooth out those smile lines. They’ll stop at nothing for a free sample of something to fix that dark spot they got from the sun. Here, I see Mother Gothel and the lengths that people will go to in order to stay young and just what a toll it takes on you to not see the inner beauty. It’s poisonous and I mean that. Mother Gothel is cruel to the world because ultimately, she is cruel to herself and she represents vanity in a way that no other Disney villain has before.
You’d think I’d have said everything good about this movie already. But no wait! There’s more. The film is stunningly beautiful. From Alan Menkin’s excellent score to the scenery that just pops with color, it’s all wonderful. Not to mention the hair. Oh god, the hair just looks so great! The lanterns in particular provide this great set piece moment, that proves that a scene doesn’t have to filled with big action and explosions to consume our eyes with spectacle.
Look, there’s not much more I can say here. Tangled is brilliant. It’s easily in my top ten, if not my top five. Every time I watch it, I love it a little bit more. It’s funny, heartwarming, beautiful and socially relevant AND manages to have the best horse ever. The music is wonderful and the animation is outstanding. If this is a film in the canon you haven’t seen, drop everything you’re doing right now and go friggin’ watch it. It’s that good.
Given that’s I’ve already reviewed Zootopia, we only have four more to go before the end of this series. I’m starting to feel the sadness and joy that comes with the end of anything big like this. Hopefully these next four films will be worth the wait!
Next Up: Winnie the Pooh
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NOTE: Obviously all the photos are courtesy of Disney Entertainment and I would never in a million years claim them as my own. That being said, all are actually taken with my phone during our viewing in order to capture the moment in a slightly different way than originally intended.
ALSO: My Fiancee has a blog too and he is talking about all the classics we are currently watching, which involves more than just Disney. Head overHERE and check it out!