Tangled (2010)

Posted by on Jan 2, 2012 in No Boys Allowed | 0 comments


Disclaimer: Some comic violence, drunkenness, and nowhere near the amount of horror the Brothers Grimm originally penned.

For once we have an orphaned princess who is strong in her convictions and challenges authority. For once she does it for herself, and not for love. For once she actually uses the man, instead of the other way around. For once we have someone who spends her days painting, reading, and rocking guitar, not just cooking, cleaning, and sewing. For once we have a supposedly sheltered and frightened gal who quickly cuts through appearances and what she’s told. For once we have a strong woman worth rooting for, while the “knight” is the emotionally weak and insecure one. For once we have a cliché scene turned on its head when this gal sacrifices herself for her guy, and he refuses to let her.

Now I’m not saying Tangled is flawless, or even as entertaining as, say, The Little Mermaid. But, for once, I’m glad to recommend a princess movie on the basis of being a role model.

Now for a quick overview. Tangled is a modern retelling of the Rapunzel story by the Brothers Grimm. Now I know what you’re thinking, because I thought the same thing. “Oh great, Disney’s got another princess based on an ages-old story. They’ll ruin a story I once liked and sell millions in merchandise in doing so.”

Thankfully, that’s not quite the case. Tangled2Yes, she has hair that literally makes a pack of braid-hungry girl scouts gasp (a particularly funny moment). And, yes, she is royalty kidnapped by an evil enchantress and kept in a tower. But does a dude show up one day, realize her situation, and call up, “Rapunzel, let your hair down so I may save you?” I THINK NOT! This 18-year-old blonde (voiced by Mandy Moore) works up the nerve to save herself by fleeing the sheltered life, experiencing the world, and ultimately facing her matronly nemesis with the line, “For every minute for the rest of my life, I will fight. And I will never stop fighting.” So refreshing.

The villainous Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) lays on passive aggression so thick it made my skin crawl – but, you know, in the way a villain probably should. And the thieving male (Zachary Levi) fills the unstable-self-image-with-alpha-male-front well enough. But Rapunzel is clearly the star.

The music was surprisingly good, though I shouldn’t be surprised with the team of composer Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid) and lyricist Glenn Slater (Little Mermaid and Sister Act). And this is the first evidence that Disney is finally getting the hang of 3D animation, with an action scene involving a bursting dam being particularly awe-inspiring.

Now by this time, hopefully you’re fully invested are ready to watch it. Because now is the time for the bad news. There’s cutesy sidekick animals (a chameleon and a horse), though they don’t talk or dominate scenes. There’s lame comedy sitcom gags. I also didn’t see it in 3D, and I would advise anyone to do the same unless the entire enterprise did a 180 without me knowing. And lastly, the promising guy-and-gal story that presents itself as a mere crush disappointingly ends with love and marriage. But (spoiler) at least he’s the one who begs her.

Long story short: Yeah, it’s fantastical, cheesy, and a little contrived, but a female character like this one more than makes up for it. Now, please, Disney execs, no sequel. Merely use this as a template for future heroines. Not exactly the same, you understand. But write the character you hope your daughter will one day become and you’ve got a good start.

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