Tag Team Review – Tangled

Disney are back with the fiftieth in their animated classics collection – are they firing on all cylinders or just firing blanks?  It’s too much for one grown up man to decide, so why not listen to two? As always, Chris M in blue, Chris W in green.

It may comes as a surprise to you dear reader, that how much I like a film isn’t always directly proportional to how good I think the film is. Whilst certainly Tangled isn’t the best film I’ve seen so far this year, it’s probably my favourite (although it’s a close call between this and The King’s Speech which I’m still swooning over a little). Disney’s reimagining of Rapunzel is a bigger homerun than I could have possibly expected. Get ready for some gushing.

I could easily spiel on about how fond I am of this film for longer than even a full solo written review would allow so to keep it simple I’ll say that I loved:

  • Rapunzel; she’s a pitch perfect wonderfully naïve main character who actually seems like an eighteen year old for once
  • Ryder; a great rogueish charming leading man
  • Maximus and Pascal; great additions to Disney’s roster of strong supporting (hilarious) silent characters
  • Gothel; refreshing to see a bad guy who wasn’t all out evil or after taking over the world but was just extremely selfish – she’s still just as sneaky, deceitful and conniving as you’d hope though
  • The frying pan

It’s obvious then that the main thing I loved then was the cast of characters, but truth be told if you’re on board with the characters and as smitten with them as I was, it doesn’t really matter what they’re doing as long as they keep doing it.

The reason in my eyes that Tangled is so good is that Disney have finally stopped trying to catch up with everyone else and have gone back to their roots. Sure the CG nature of the film brings along some of the traits now commonplace in the genre, (including some very slapstick humour) but at the core of it all, the movie is so intrinsically Disney (arguably other than the visual style) that in my mind it fits right in with Aladdin, Jungle Book, The Lion King and all the rest – probably the first time we can say that in around ten yearsIf, like me, you’ve been brought up with Disney films as a third parent, you’re really going to love this; I’m still buzzing off it a week later! We discussed last year (in our first Tag Team review no less!) that the Princess and the Frog was a welcome return to proper Disney films but only really a step in the right direction of their mid nineties heyday. One year later I’m here to tell you that Tangled is hands down the best Disney film since (my personal favourite) Hercules. It’s still too early in the year to make bold comments but I’m going out on a limb in saying that Disney have set the bar pretty high for animated films in 2011 and could well be on for the best animated film of the year. Saying that though, it may just be because Pixar are only releasing Cars 2…

More please!

Castafans, this will be my last review of a computer-animated movie that isn’t promoted by a trailer that starts off with “from the studio that brought you Finding Nemo”.

I could not connect with any part of Tangled whatsoever and as a result I was bored for almost its entire duration. For me there wasn’t enough originality, humanity or adventure.

I spent large sections of the film wondering if it might’ve looked better hand drawn; Rapunzel’s hair in particular didn’t have the same flow and energy of, say, the vines and branches of Tarzan (if that’s a worthy comparison?).

But all of my foibles are completely moot because I can 100% accept that none of that matters as the target audience for Tangled clearly loved it to bits and lapped it up in spades; and I know that’s true because I asked a family leaving the cinema at the same time as me whether they enjoyed it or not.

The two young girls were particularly blown away; they said the animals were funny and Rapunzel was beautiful (this conversation genuinely happened by the way- I’ve got the CRB check to prove it).

The mother was slightly more articulate; “I loved it. But then again I love a good romance and it was very funny too”

I asked her how she thought it compared to a film like Toy Story 3 to which she responded;

“Well, I don’t really like Toy Story. I don’t see what the fuss is about”.

Now, this small interaction proves nothing, and is in no way representative of the views of the majority of the cinema going public- either coming from the family, or from myself. But maybe there is something here I need to learn from.

Whilst I might yearn for a deeper subtext to my family movie, a subtext that I continue to believe only Pixar studios can provide me with, and characters that whilst appealing on a visual level to children work for adults because of the realistic emotional beats they are going through from movie to movie, why should any of that matter when the crowd watching Disney’s 50th animated movie is in stitches as a rough gang of thieves prances around a bar like sissies and a chameleon blows raspberries at a horse?

The fact is it doesn’t matter. And I need to accept that. These films are not for me. I could sit here for days and write and re-write how I thought the songs were lazy, the characterisation was predictable, the humanized animals were trite and patronizing, the romance was tacked on and the peril was, well, just wasn’t there, but who am I kidding? Take Chris M’s word over mine on this one, he’s completely right, and it’s because he can appreciate that sometimes a movie is just a movie.

A toast then to Tangled; That which made them laugh, cry, gasp and sing along yet taught me that I need to take my over-analytical B.S and get out of the room so that everyone else can just enjoy the party. I am a buzz-kill, and I apologise.


2 Responses to Tag Team Review – Tangled

  1. Dan says:

    This is an issue that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently (and one that is reflected in my own review of Tangled – which I published before you published this and therefor YOU are the copiers!)

    I love Pixar, but my kids are nonplussed by the movies. Bolt was an example of Disney trying to do Pixar but failing. I’m really glad they have worked out what they do best. And there is room for both styles of animated storytelling (as well as the pop-culture referencing of Dreamworks and the ilk) in the halls of quality animation.

    Oh, and are you sure that you got the colour key right here? I appear to be agreeing with Chris M. Surely this can’t be right?

  2. wakeman24 says:

    Maybe the tides are changing… :-O

    I can totally see that Tangled is Disney doing what they do best (and doing it well) but I didn’t find any appeal for an older audience, which Pixar acheives time and time again. Toy Story and the other Pixar movies have enough to cater for the very young, the young, teenagers, adults, the elderly, everyone! And it makes it look effortless.

    I don’t think Tangled does that and I wonder if Disney even bothers to try. I suppose there is adult enjoyment to be had watching your kids having a great time with a movie, maybe I’ll learn that when I get some mini-Wakemans of my own!

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