Without female companionship, it’s hard to go see Tangled and still maintain an air of manliness and virility. So, abandoning all hope of preserving that façade, I decided to go all the way to the deep end of the lame pool and see it with my parents. And for once, the dearth of self-confidence that inspired me to long ago stop vying for success with the fairer sex paid off, because when the dust settled and the credits rolled, there was only one fact left standing, and it towered above all other thoughts and insecurities: Tangled was AWESOME!
What a cast of characters! Zachary Levi, or Chuck from Chuck (for those of you who watch my favorite television show), is perfectly charming as Flynn Rider, the shallow and selfish thief whose good looks are rivaled only by Narcissus. Immediately likeable despite his negative qualities, Flynn Rider’s journey toward empathy is one which is quickly obvious, and yet it is so flawlessly executed that I found his transformation transfixing at every turn.
As for Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), well, I was pretty much in love with her the moment I saw her. The epitome of innocence, Rapunzel is a drop of sunshine in the darkness. Her unadulterated joy is contagious, infecting even the most jaded and cynical. It was a pleasure to see how people changed when touched by such a fair creature, whether it be a group of thugs singing about their dreams or innumerable citizens breaking out into dance in the streets. Again, Rapunzel’s character arc was rather obvious: from an obedient girl afraid of the world to a real person living her life. And again, it didn’t matter, because that arc was artfully crafted.
Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) is an understandable villain. I mean, Rapunzel’s magic hair gives her eternal youth. If that’s not a good reason for keeping your daughter in a tower, I don’t know what is. The two characters of a different genus deserve quite a bit of recognition themselves. Pascal the chameleon makes for an excellent sidekick to Rapunzel. He’s just about the cutest thing ever (right behind How to Train Your Dragon’s Toothless), and his indignant looks are a great counterpoint to Rapunzel’s innocent absurdity. Even Maximus, the head guard’s horse, is an amazing character with a story of his own. He tracks Flynn Rider with brutal determination, but as per usual, ends up joining the team.
Honestly, this movie has the perfect setup. You see, Flynn Rider is a character you can really get behind. Sure, he doesn’t care about other people, but his charm makes him unarguably, well, charming. Oh, and Rapunzel is a character you can really get behind. The opposite of Flynn, she is trusting and cares deeply for everyone, and yet she has much to learn about the world. We love both characters from the beginning, and the traits that make each of them so great directly reflect the other’s flaws, so when fate brings them together, we get to watch an incredible relationship blossom.
Plus, there were a couple of little lines that broke the fourth wall in an amusing way. At one point, Flynn Rider calls Pascal a frog. Rapunzel, offended, points out that it’s a chameleon, to which Flynn responds “Nuance.” Bringing up the cliché of a princess and a frog is especially amusing, since Disney’s last animated film was titled The Princess and the Frog. Also, like I said, Mother Gothel isn’t particularly villainous during the film, just a bit attached to the idea of immortality. Now, when she argues with Rapunzel, she always complains that Rapunzel is “making her the bad guy.” Well, I really wanted her to be the bad guy so I could cheer when she got her comeuppance, and then finally, much to my delight, she snaps, saying “You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I’m the bad guy.” To her, she was harkening back to those old arguments, but to me, she was talking directly to the audience, letting us know that it was ok to root against her.
If I had one complaint, and I do, it would be that the songs didn’t quite live up to my expectations. They were still excellent, but they were a bit more ponderous than some Disney tunes. With the exception of “I’ve Got a Dream,” they were slow, character-heavy numbers that, while still of a high quality, lacked the pizzazz that got the Aladdin soundtrack stuck so firmly in my head.
But the songs certainly didn’t detract from the experience. The dialogue was sharp, the animation was beyond beautiful, and the movie was both touching and hilarious. And as an added bonus, there was a lot of great insight into human nature. I cared for those characters, and the film was able to jerk my emotions around however it wanted. My sides hurt from laughing, my eyes ached from tears. Flynn’s charm and Rapunzel’s joy didn’t just affect the other characters; they reached right out of that screen and touched me too, and because of that, I give Tangled:
The only truly sad thing about this movie was that Rapunzel ended up becoming a brunette. Oh, the humanity!Follow @russnickel