A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Tangled (2010)

April 16, 2011

Tangled

I’m not sure why we bought this. I suppose movie buying is just a compulsion, and it feels odd that I haven’t been buying my usual three or four movies a week since my time at Blockbuster ended. So once in a while I just have the need to pick up a movie. Last week on payday Amanda and I were in the supermarket and the movie section called out to us – there wasn’t really anything there that appealed to us, but she had heard that maybe this movie wasn’t so bad, for a Disney princess movie, so we bought it.

We don’t own a lot of Disney animated movies. I have enjoyed some of them, but there’s a certain saccharine quality to them that makes them difficult to swallow. It’s the singing. I like Alan Menken just fine and I’ve always been able to enjoy a good musical, but there’s only so much a guy can take. I’m a sucker for an animated movie though, and for the longest time Disney was the dominant player in the animated film department. As a child of course I loved Disney movies. I had record albums with soundtracks to The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Jungle Book, even the Aristocats. (In the days before VHS… yes I’m dating myself.) When the new era of Disney animation started I was surprised to find that I actually quite liked some of the movies that were part of it. I found The Little Mermaid enchanting (see my review of it) enjoyed Aladdin and even was able to appreciate parts of Beauty and the Beast… but that was about the limit of my Disney tolerance. Lion King still grates on me to this very day and I completely skipped Pocahontas and Mulan.

About all I knew before watching this movie was that it was touted as the first 3-D animated movie from Disney to attempt to capture the look of the hand-drawn films (I guess they’re not counting all the direct-to-video 3-D CGI Micky Mouse movies), and it was a very difficult film for Disney to market because they tried so very hard to market it to boys. (Seriously – the preview we saw in the theater for this featured the male character capering with a horse and only had Rapunzel’s hair in shot near the end. No sign of the princess at all.) Oh, and that it was an adaptation of the tale of Rapunzel.

In this particular spin on the Rapunzel story the reason the evil witch has her trapped in a tower is that she has magical hair that can keep the witch young. The handsome prince who finds her in the tower and rescues her is an irascible thief (which instantly gave me flashbacks to yesterday’s movie.) Together the two of them have a whirlwind adventure. That’s pretty much the whole story there, and there aren’t really any big surprises in it.

It’s a very comfortable and familiar feeling movie. I’m pretty sure that’s most of the point of it. It has the sheen of a big budget CGI film from Pixar or Dreamworks Animation, but it has the character design, animation style, songs and mood of a Disney film from the early nineties. It isn’t out to break any moulds or do anything revolutionary (although the technology behind the look of the film is impressive.) Instead it is meant to be the comfort food of animated films – a Disney film like those good old ones they made twenty years ago.

For me, at least, it worked. There’s fun humor, lots of really pretty animation, and a simple plot about a girl wanting to go out on her own after years of being told how awful the outside world can be. The “hero” Flynn is a bit of a cad, and I felt myself tuning out during a couple of the songs, but Rapunzel herself it a pretty cool heroine.

I was very uncomfortable during her first song though when she described her life and it consisted mostly of traditional feminine chores such as cleaning, cooking, knitting ans sewing. I’m still not sure if it was showing these as activities she enjoys doing to pass the time in her tower or if they’re meant to be part of the prison she’s trying to escape from. There could be an argument for either one I suppose – on the one hand this is a “Disney Princess” movie and little girls are meant to want to be princesses who sew and cook, right? On the other hand she really does seem pretty trapped in this life and doesn’t seem to really start enjoying herself when she starts defending herself with a frying pan.

I think my favorite parts of the movie are the thugs in the Snuggly Duckling tavern, and the horse. The thugs are voiced by some fun and familiar actors such as Ron Pearlman (playing one of the main bad guys) and Brad Garrett and Jeffrey Tambor. The horse Maximus, of course, is just great physical comedy and in spite of having no lines is one of the best things in the movie. On the other hand:

Every time I saw this face on the screen:

This is what came instantly to mind:

That made me laugh. Except that, yes sir, I did actually like it. I liked it just fine.

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April 16, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,

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