Disney’s “Tangled” (2010) Review

Image: Disney, Wikipedia.org

A classic film with a modern tangle…

PLOT – 

Tangled has a briskly-paced plot that isn’t afraid to stay in a location or two for a while. Yes, this is another ‘journey’ movie yet there isn’t constant movement towards a goal.The places visited are varied and memorable, with a nice variety of characters. The goal rather goals slightly shift as the movie progresses, going from hunting for a crown to an actual romance. There is some intrigue and mystery as alliances shift when the crown changes hands during the film. The relationships between characters here are solid, and help drive the plot more than an arbitrary deadline or a ticking clock would.

As for themes and lessons of the film, there are many, some surprisingly mature ones. Flynn’s relationship with Rapunzel grows naturally throughout the film, not forced like other Disney couples, and they both respect each other and their boundaries. Rapunzel’s relationship with Mother Gothel is one of lies and gaslightning, and the crown can represent virginity or superficial reasons to love, rather than loving the actual person (similar to the original tale), especially during Mother Gothel’s second song. This film takes the road less traveled when it comes to general Disney convention, bucking trends and carving new paths forward in a more modern direction than their predecessors.

My PLOT RATING is 10 / 10.

CHARACTERS – 

Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is a refreshing take on the Disney Princess with a fully fleshed out and developed character. She’s fun, quirky, inquisitive, caring, driven, and empathetic. She has a zest for life regardless of her sheltered upbringing. It’s awesome to see her break free of Mother Gothel’s control and assert herself. Her care and love for others, despite her isolation, is admirable, and her reactions and expressions are adorable. She really has great chemistry with all characters, and her relationship with Flynn is excellent and believable. She is very in tune with her emotions, and just wants to do good by others and make life fun.

Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) is a nice twist on the male protagonist. Actual character backstory twist aside, Flynn presents himself in the style of Aladdin but deep down, he’s just a normal person. A lot of the comedy is derived from his attempts at being cool and attractive, but the pathos is derived from him being himself and genuine. Again, this is another refreshing character who doesn’t need to be conventionally cool or handsome, but instead lest his personality shine through his actions. He truly cares about Rapunzel and her boundaries, and actually respects her instead of wanting her just for the crown.

Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) is a great female villain, and one to rival Frollo and Lady Tremaine in terms of realism. She is one of the handful of past Disney villains to not use magic, but instead get by through manipulation and intelligence. Her backhanded compliments and comments about Rapunzel’s self-worth and image are appalling, and actually get a cringe of disgust out of me, affecting the audience and character all at once. During her second song, however, there seems to be some actual care and love for her. Over time, this hasn’t been an act, but an actual mother-daughter relationship in the eighteen years. Yes, this is true Stockholm Syndrome (for those wondering from Beauty and the Beast) for both parties, and there is a great sense as the film goes on where I truly wonder: does she want Rapunzel back for Rapunzel or her hair? … Interesting to note, every time she says something kind to Rapunzel, she’s usually stroking or looking at the hair.

FUN FACT – A lot of Mother Gothel’s character and motivation seems like holdover from Yzma from Kingdom of the Sun (what used to be The Emperor’s New Groove), heck, the kingdom here has a sun motif and is called the kingdom of Corona! (NOTE: This FUN FACT does not age well after 2020, especially as this film involves staying at home).

Pascal (unvoiced) is Rapunzel’s little chameleon friend, and he’s adorable. We get a lot of humor from this little guy through pantomime, and some jokes of his justify the PG rating. Maximus (Frank Welker) is a whole different story… He’s the antagonistic character that we all know is good by the end. Thus all his attempts to be ‘bad’ are quashed, and his character until that point really isn’t that effective. He breaks the immersion, being smarter than any other horse that openly acts ‘human’ around people in a film where the animals initially seem non-sentient. I did warm up to him on this rewatch, and maybe I discounted that some animals can be magically sentient as well?

The Thugs (Hook Hand – Brad Garrett, Big Nose – Jeffrey Tambor, Short – Paul F. Tompkins, Vlad – Richard Kiel, Nathan Greno, Byron Howard) are a band of ruffians that hide out in the Snuggly Duckling (weird reference but okay) bar. They’re somewhat flat, one-note characters whose only purpose is the joke that they’re not as manly as they appear. It’s always nice to see Brad Garrett (physically as well as onscreen, I’ve met him and he’s really nice) and I’m surprised at Jeffrey Tambor’s inclusion here, but other than that, they’re not really characters but vehicles for comedy. Don’t get me wrong, they’re really funny, but it would have been nice to get a little more out of them.

The Stabbington Brothers (Ron Perlman) are basically intimidation fodder. They’re used really effectively here, sometimes being a genuine threat. There’s an excellent moment with them later in the film that plays with the audience’s expectations. They’re also not stupid, but pretty unlucky with achieving their goals. Their characters later serve to bring some muscle to Mother Gothel’s plans.

The King and Queen (both unvoiced) have a few quiet, contemplative, and seriously sad scenes together. Incredibly effective, beautiful, and brilliant.

My CHARACTERS RATING is 9 / 10.

DIALOGUE – 

The dialogue here is once again modern, but smarter than before, and more varied. Nothing really out of the ordinary, but there are a lot of good quips and gags here, with visual gags matching dialogue jokes. Commenting on how weird the events are and nudging the fourth wall are staples of this film. This level of self-awareness identifies with the audience in a truthful way. Disney has been pushing the absurdity envelope and it’s nice for the characters to realize this as well. The themes also come out in the dialogue, and more mature topics such as leaving one’s parents, emotional and physical boundaries, and coping with loss are all here and handled with grace. The voice cast all bring great emotion to their lines, and they all land really well. There isn’t really anything bad to speak of here, it’s just some good, pure dialogue.

My DIALOGUE RATING is 10 / 10.

EFFECTS – 

It’s like a painting come to life. Gorgeous. The water is beautiful, and the hair is superb. Hair and water are two of the hardest things to animate and this is just perfect. The textures are super solid and it all looks so good. Lighting excellently sets the mood and looks gorgeous during the songs. Unlike other Disney films, the settings used here are memorable and can only be used for this film.

MY EFFECTS RATING is 10 / 10.

MUSIC – 

Composed by Alan Menken, the lyrical music is great, yet the score is unmemorable. Most of the time it is a generic orchestra with no discernible themes. There are points where acoustic guitar and light conga come in to mix it up. It works well within the film.

“When Will My Life Begin” – The perfect song for 2020, very catchy. Aside from current events, this song is very good, as are its reprises.

“Mother Knows Best” – Another great Disney Villain Song. It nutshells everything about Mother Gothel’s character, from the lying, gaslighting, ridicule, and demeaning phrases to the authoritative ‘mother’ tone. It’s a playful song in parts, but dark all throughout. The reprise is even better, digging deep into metaphor with mature subtext.

“I Have a Dream” – A nice, silly song that subverts expectations and has a lot of fun memorable moments. I was kind of surprised that Brad Garrett could sing that well!

“I See the Light” – It finally happened. A song broke me. For some unexplained reason, I cry when this song plays. At the moments leading up to it… Let’s just say I never even made it past the first line. The gorgeous visuals enhance the music. This song speaks to those who have finally found true love, and to those who have felt trapped in their lives.

“Healing Incantation” – A nice song (almost a poem) whose meaning changes depending on when it’s sung in the film. It ranges from beautiful to wistful to haunting in different scenes.

My MUSIC RATING is 9 / 10.

OVERALL –

Tangled has a lot of heart. It’s truly a beautiful film. The plot is nuanced and mature, telling a relevant, timeless story. Rapunzel’s story is actually a testament to the creative process. That fear inside keeping you from realizing your dream, the leap of faith when you go for it, and the catharsis of success. The characters are nuanced and modern, updated for Disney’s new era, even though some are overdone or underused. I love the voice cast, and all of them, even minor characters, do a great job. The dialogue and script services the plot well, conveys information clearly, and is very funny. The effects are possibly the best thing about the film. Everything from the smallest blades of grass to the largest castles have texture and life. The lighting is especially awesome and sets the mood perfectly. The character movement and fast-paced action scenes are also clean. The score, while not memorable in general, has a few moments to shine, and the lyrical pieces are all excellent.

Tangled is a modern masterpiece, and a sign of nothing but good things to come.

Image: Disney, Pinterest.com

My OVERALL RATING for Disney’s Tangled is 96%.

Next time…

The last traditionally animated feature in the Canon.

Stay tuned!

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