“Tangled” is Disney’s first full-on digitally animated Pixar-ish movie. For the longest time, they’ve been the final holdout on 2D animation. So it looks like Pixar, it feels like Pixar, but it’s Disney. My favorite animated movie of all time is still “Beauty and the Beast”. After that, I was mostly unimpressed; amused yes, but struck in the same way, no. And I’m not a big fan of animated movies, mostly because many of them have fallen into a rut, as if each movie is the same, just with different characters, but all following the same template – quick snappy dialogue with built-in punchlines, cute characters with an even cuter laugh, etc. But the heart is missing. The only animated works that I’ve truly enjoyed on a deeper level recently have been the Miyazaki movies (Ponyo, Spirited Away) and Nickelodeon’s “Avatar”. For the mainstream cartoons I enjoyed Chicken Little, Monsters Inc. and Toy Story 3. So I watched “Tangled” mainly because my sister insisted I watch it on the big screen. So I not-so-excitedly watched it earlier…and boy was I glad I did.
It’s not one of Disney’s best, but I must say, it’s one of their finest in a LOOONG time. Disney’s long been eclipsed by Pixar and Dreamworks in leaps and bounds, but if this movie is any indication, they could be back in the running. I don’t know what exactly it is about the movie, but everything rang true. Rapunzel was a believable heroine you could relate to. Anyone who’s ever had a domineering parent would instantly feel for her.
And the songs! I have never been a fan of Disney’s music. I used to hate how the Disney songs dominated the Oscars for such a long stretch in the past. I found them tedious, unmelodic and uninspired. But I must say, I really liked the songs in this one. True, many are just rehashes of older versions of Disney classics like the first song is basically “Part of your World” and “This Provincial Life” with a different melody, but to me at least, they’re memorable, especially the malevolent showstopper “Mama Knows Best”. Alan Menken is back in top form, the same guy who did the music for “Beauty” and “Aladdin”.
But I guess what I liked about this film, which I look for in any film, is its heart. Like I said, the tale rang true. It didn’t feel like a movie that was just going through the motions. The characters didn’t feel like a checklist of rehashed characters. True, they are all rehashed, but at ;east they felt fresh. For the first time in a long time, I felt drawn into the story, and not just waiting for the credits to roll. And can I just say, I want a pet chameleon!!! Pascal has got to be my most favorite animal sidekick EVER. I can’t really explain why I’m loving all these elements that have come out in Disney films past. But for some enchanted reason, there was some sort of cinematic binder that tied all the elements together in one cohesive whole, and I bit it line, sink and hooker.
If I could change one thing though, I would’ve wanted the old crone to be a little bit more multi-dimensional. Her character would have been more layered if they showed her having some actual love for Rapunzel? If they showed some sort of latent moral struggle, she might have become a more compelling character, and not just a textbook villain. That’s what I loved most in the animated “Avatar”, the good weren’t all good, the bad weren’t all bad, every character was a complicated shade of grey, which is how real life really is. But I guess they needed to make her really bad to justify her plunging to her dusty demise. It is, after all, still a kid flick.
But all in all, I really loved the movie. I didn’t expect it to, but it resonates long after I left the cinema. Now I want a chameleon like Pascal and a white horse named Max. And I loved that song about finding your dream. Sometimes reality has a way of muting what we REALLY want to do in life. It’s a nice sentiment to explore. Made me ask some questions that got me a bit nostalgic. Made me remember my own dreams, the ones that got got buried in the everyday grind. As Rapunzel said: “It’s complicated”.