Movie Review: Tangled

Title: Tangled
Directors: Nathan Greno & Byron Howard
Cast: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy
Genre: Animation
Running Time: 100 minutes
Purchase Tangled: DVD

Plot
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.

He Said
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).

She Said
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.

We Say
“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.

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11 comments

  1. Gothel’s intention when she stole Rapunzel from her parents was not because she wanted a child, but merely because she wanted to harvest her “powers” so she could remain youthful and beautiful. Thus Gothel only had very selfish and abusive interactions with Rapunzel. I don’t think the portrayal or development of their relationship is false.

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  2. I agree with Thanh. Rapunzel was abducted, not adopted.

    I also agree that overall, Tangled was not a sparkling animated film. I nonetheless enjoyed it back when we watched it (and to be honest, my favourite parts were “I See the Light”, which I used as my vocal piece to audition for a play :P, and Eugene’s facial expressions. :P)

    I would, however, not say that the original story of Rapunzel is a “mundane fairy tale” – it’s a classic Brothers Grimm which actually encompasses a lot of interesting German folklore. ;) I would also like to say that my mother read me many such “unwholesome” and dark “fairytales” by the Brothers Grimm and HC Anderson when I was little, and I turned out okay… I think. ;)

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    1. I think I adopt a very rose-tinted perspective when I watch movies meant for children. (Or at least, branded as a kid movie.) I like to think that babies bring out the best in others, and irregardless of your intentions, if you spend years raising a baby, that would soften you. Again, very rose-tinted.

      I remember now, and very distinctively so, that my siblings gave up reading fairytales to their kids. They called them “nonsensical” and switched to encyclopedias. I will confess I was raised neither on fairytales nor encyclopedias. :P I will say, though, that I prefer Aesop over Grimm.

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      1. Haha. I read encyclopedias, too!

        Well, nonsensical or otherwise, there’s probably a good reason why folklore and fairytales such as Aesop, Grimm, and Disney have had such a strong presence in almost every society – a sense of magic and whimsy is not such a bad exposure as a child (that, along with a nightmare-inducing instillation of morality, in some cases. :P)

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  3. I wonder if the beginning of Tangled suffered from Disney trying to make the film more “male oriented”? After all, the name was changed from Rapunzel to Tangled with a marketing focus on Flynn to target boys.

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  4. I’m with Nhi–I find it hard to believe that after raising a child for 16 years (even one that was abducted with selfish intentions) that there’d be no true feelings of love and attachment. I disagree that this is too dark a subject for kids though. We would hope it wouldn’t be the case, but I’m sure kids are exposed to those who keep fake personalities (probably more from peers rather than caretakers) and it makes sense to warn them to keep a wary eye out for that.
    As for your comment on fb asking “Anyone else think that Tangled is in some ways a dark commentary on overprotective parenting? Is the underlying cautionary tale to let kids explore and face all the ‘scariness’ of the real world?” I think not…I mean, Rapunzel didn’t even want to go on her own–she asked Gothel to take her. To me it seems more like a “get involved in what matters to your kids” message for the parents. And although it does show to not let your fears (of the world or repercussions etc.) stop you from pursuing what matters to you, it also shows that you in no way have to make the journey on your own.

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    1. Ah, I totally agree with your second paragraph!!

      As for this being a dark subject… Well, my sister screened the movie to see if it’s appropriate for her son and she decided that kidnapping will introduce fear. So she passed. I understand that bad things happen in real life. But I’d rather discuss them if somehow my kid gets exposed to them in real life. I’d rather not introduce concepts of kidnapping, schemes, and murder in fictional works. And I hope by the time they’re exposed to these acts in real life, they have matured enough to comprehend them without fear. For the same reason that I disapproved of “Tangled”, I will not let my kids watch “The Lion King”.

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      1. I get that even though it’s not the way I’d personally go–I think it’s healthy to have fear, it’s a large part of what influences us to do things to keep ourselves safe and I think knowing about them as stories helps introduce these concepts without the “scariness” of them being real scenarios. Being terrified, on the other hand, would not be so helpful…and I’m thinking maybe that’s more what you/she expects might happen since even I as a fully grown adult experience fear if I think about real-life murders, kidnappings, etc.

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