Directors: Nathan Greno & Byron Howard
Cast: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy
Running Time: 100 minutes
Purchase Tangled: DVD
Tangled supposedly tells the classic tale of a girl trapped in a tower who upon beckoning, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair”, unleashes her impossibly long golden locks. However, the fairytale is merely a backdrop for what is actually a coming-of-age story that explores self-discovery and empowerment.
I was not impressed by Tangled‘s trailer back in 2010 and had no intentions of watching it, but my love for Frozen (the tagline on the poster touts it as “From the creators of Tangled and Wreck It Ralph“) made me yearn for more of the same type of animated excellence. Perhaps, consequently, I came into the movie with far too much expectations and initially found the story very boring and the characters just not endearing. The movie thankfully picks up about 45 minutes in and becomes a rather pleasant watch until the end. The “lantern scene” truly encapsulates the movie-magic feel that Disney does so well when it gets it right. I appreciate Rapunzel’s strength (her character offers young girls a different type of “Disney Princess”) and Disney was quite creative with their use of her hair and I enjoyed the modern twists to the story. The surprisingly dark commentary on controlling and overprotective parenting was interesting. I do worry, however, that the story may feed (or initiate?) fantasies that young kids sometimes have about being adopted and actually having “better” [biological] parents (especially when they disagree with their parents).
From the viewpoint of an aunt screening movies for her nieces and nephews, I wouldn’t recommend Tangled for children. The theme is unnecessarily dark. While I recognize that Gothel is a witch, she has nonetheless raised Rapunzel and one would hope all those years would amount to something more than an abusive and manipulative relationship filled with greed on Gothel’s side and fear within Rapunzel. The exchanges of “I love you” were completely empty. I prefer not to introduce children to these ideations of hypocrisy and schemes. To simply wave this off as “Gothel’s the evil character” doesn’t settle with me either. As an adult watching the movie, Tangled entertains but lacks a powerful message.
“Rapunzel” is a rather mundane fairytale that Tangled is able to spin into a rather entertaining take on entering society and growing up. It has a dreadfully slow start, but the characters and the movie itself ultimately become likable. Tangled has its moments, but is overall just passable and lacks that indescribable charisma that makes animated features like Toy Story 3 and Frozen unforgettable and far superior.