That’s a Lot of Hair
I really wish I went into these reviews with any foresight. When my friend suggested I review the movie Tangled, I knew she wanted me to review the animated Disney movie. After I watched it, I went to the interwebs to get the information I needed to write my review and found out there was another movie by the name of Tangled starring Rachel Leigh Cook. I was pressed for time this day so I was unable to do what I wanted, but I instantly regretted not having watched the other one. Not for the quality, but for the comedy. Unfortunately, I had no time. So let’s see how this much less amusing (to me) review of the animated Tangled goes, written by Jacob Grimm, directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, and starring the voices of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Brad Garrett, Ron Perlman, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Kiel, Paul F. Tompkins, Tom Kenny, Fred Tatasciore, and the legendary Frank Welker.
A Queen becomes sick while preggers and her kingdom goes out to find a magic flower to keep her alive. It’s been kept secret by a greedy old broad that sings it a song to keep herself young. The soldiers find it and use it to save the Queen. The Queen has a baby with golden hair that will keep people young when the baby girl has the song recited to her. The old broad, Gothel (Donna Murphy), steals the baby and locks her up in a tower so she can be young forever. The downtrodden King and Queen send out lanterns on the baby’s birthday every year in hopes that the baby will see them. 18 years later, charismatic thief Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) steals the crown from the palace and is chased by guards to that very tower, where he is promptly clocked in the head with a frying pan wielded by the grown up Rapunzel (Mandy Moore). Gothel has forbidden Rapunzel to leave the tower, so Rapunzel hides Rider’s crown while he’s unconscious and uses it to bargain with him to lead her to see the lanterns she’s watched from her window if he wants it back. She originally wanted this as a gift for graduating out of jailbait status, but Gothel turned her down, so why not go to the cute guy with the same offer? At first, Rider is only trying to scare Rapunzel into chickening out of their deal, but eventually sparks of love show up. Gothel returns early to find Rapunzel gone and goes after her to convince her to return. And, since this is Disney, it ends in a really hopeless, depressing way.
In recent years, I have done all I can to argue with my friends in favor of classically animated Disney movies as opposed to computer animated Pixar movies. This has been pretty difficult as Pixar movies are so damned good and (at least recently) animated Disney has been either fairly lackluster or amazing movies with a 2 added to them being sent straight to DVD’s filled with suckitude. Watching Tangled, I found myself torn. Torn by the fact that this movie is a return to form for Disney, but at the cost of classic animation styles. A lot of the best Disney movies have been re-imaginings (or retellings) of classic stories, like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and now Rapunzel. And, from what I remember from the original story, this one makes a lot more sense. I guess, technically, the original story was just about kidnapping and some guy climbing hair, so that’s not that illogical, but it’s also not very interesting. The whole hair thing and staying young gives Gothel an actual reason to hold on to Rapunzel beyond something as simple as a grudge against her parents. And, as with the other Disney movies, they give their characters way more life and comedy than the original story allowed. Rapunzel was so cute and innocent, with a mastery of physical humor that made her character more than merely charming. Rider was fairly charming at first, but the true quality of the character was only revealed when he stopped with his facade. Gothel was not just evil, but grounded in ways that most Disney villains aren’t. Although women being overly obsessed with their appearances, even at the cost of the lives of others, actually is more common than I initially thought in Disney movies. I think that was the main motivation behind the Evil Queen in Snow White, but my memory is pretty foggy. All those parties in the 60’s have ruined my brain. The movie does kind of start with a big fuck you to the audience, but only if the audience is fairly gullible. It starts with narration by Flynn saying that he’s going to die within this story, which would be a very shocking and daring ending from a Disney movie, but no one should actually expect such a death will last. And, if Gothel wanted to keep that flower hidden so bad, why would she knock over the thing hiding it and not pay enough attention to notice it before the soldiers found the flower? Rookie move, Gothel. And the largest plot hole by far is that Rapunzel spends so much time alone in the tower baking but is still thin and attractive. Where do all those cookies go if not straight to her ass?
As a artist (of sorts) myself, I give a lot more credit to classic animation than to computer animation. Drawing a picture is difficult and time consuming, and drawing tons of pictures so that they will move when filmed is a million times that. Though I know it’s an exaggeration, I consider computer animation not much more difficult than what I am doing right now. It’s not true, I know, but my brain will not accept computer animation being more difficult, or even as difficult, as hand drawing. Because of this, Tangled bummed me out from the start. The fact that they did a great job with their animation made me feel much better, but my own biases kept me from enjoying it as much as I should have. That being said, the movie is beautifully animated, filled with colorful and gorgeous settings. They didn’t really go for realism with their characters (and who would want them to after Tron: Evolution), but they won with adorable, cartoony characters. First, can I say that animated babies are so much cuter than real babies? At least baby Rapunzel was. That’s right, parents! To hell with your babies! The animation style they use is amusing, with characters moving in an exaggerated, almost manga-esque style. When Rapunzel sees the lanterns from the lake, she doesn’t just realistically walk to the bow of the boat, she darts up there and climbs about the figurehead. It was adorable. Speaking of which, that little chameleon Pascal and the horse Maximus were both loaded with adorableness, although you have to wait for Rapunzel to meet Maximus and for him to start acting like a giant dog before you see his adorableness. As a little side note, I appreciate the ballsiness involved in not having Rapunzel tie up her hair until nearly the end of the movie. The easy way would have done that very early in the movie so they wouldn’t have to animate that hair all over the place, but they didn’t do that. Kudos for that.
I find that I really don’t have anything to say about the voice cast in this movie. It’s not that they did a bad job; quite to the contrary, in fact. They all did great. But, without them physically acting in the movie, I don’t really have much reaction to their performances. I give credit for their performances to the animators more than the voice actors. A voice actor can ruin it with bad acting, but I just didn’t feel overly impressed with the acting I couldn’t see. Except for Frank Welker, that is. You may not know that name, but you’ve heard him before. He usually doesn’t speak in the roles I’ve heard him do, but he’s legendary in the voice acting community for his ability to do any animal you need him to do AND give it personality. He did the “voice acting” for Pascal and Maximus. That guy’s amazing.
I assume you don’t suffer from the same biases as I do against computer animated movies. If that’s the case, you’ll probably adore this movie. With my present biases still intact – at least until extensive therapy fixes them – I still manged to really dig this movie, enough to purchase it immediately after viewing on BluRay. The story is classic Disney reinvigoration of an old fairy tale, the characters are charming and fantastically animated, and the voice actors do their thing. I just realized I made no mention of the fact that it’s a musical, and with good reason: because I didn’t hate it. The songs were nice and they fit nicely, so I didn’t hate it enough to pay it any mind. And since these reviews are all stream of consciousness, I’m not going to take that very sentence and move it up so that it seems I didn’t forget. I’m such a pro. I recommend Tangled, wholeheartedly. Tangled can have “I have made the decision to trust you” out of “Here comes the smolder”.
Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!