Quick Hit: Beautiful animation leads a story that is a bit too familiar to be excellent.
Pixar and Disney have always exceeded with the fairy tale formula, so it was a bit surprising when they come out and said that they would be abandoning it with Tangled (It’s obvious that was a bit of a misnomer, we got Frozen just a few years later based on a fairy tale). However, it was easy to see the comparisons and the fixes that took place to address the criticisms of Disney’s highly underrated Princess and the Frog from just a few years back. The story became simpler – fewer characters, fewer motivations, and one swashbuckler.
That’s not a bad thing for kids, but it dropped the story a bit for adults. Everyone of a certain age at least has heard of Rapunzel, so it would have been nice to see the story taken in a more interesting direction. I did like the addition of the magical healing hair, it’s something you don’t often see. But the story’s almost immediate focus on Flynn (he is even the narrator) is a bit disappointing. Though it’s nice to see Rapunzel fighting and taking care of herself (though, with a frying pan… enough said), it’s too much male focus for a female-centric story.
On a complete aside, it’s really interesting to look at some Disney films as you watch them perfect their way towards Frozen. You see Tiana give way to Rapunzel to fix some mistakes, and then, to level the field with critics of the focus on Flynn, we go an entire flip towards Brave, which has its own mistakes. From there, it was a quick skip and a jaunt over to Frozen which gives us not one, but two princesses, simultaneously magical and traditional as well as groundbreaking.
Anyways, back to Tangled. The animation style is beautiful. Very few people have seen Tangled in 3D (as it’s a dying home format, I understand why), but I highly recommend it to those that can. It’s one of the best 3D animations I’ve seen, with beautifully rounded and shadowed characters. Along with that, the colors and movements of the characters, including Rapunzel’s hair, which could be a character in and of itself, are tremendous. You forget at times (if you can get past Rapunzel’s anime inspired wide-eyes) that you are watching an animation. It’s glorious.
Finally, the music in the film is catchy and upbeat. I guess that’s what you get when you cast a former pop star as your lead, but I was nonetheless impressed. My favorite song may be the opening with Rapunzel in the tower, but there are a lot of impressive songs, including one in a bar that allows others to sing as well, and a song that I can’t help but sing whenever I think of “Motherrrrrr”. Catchy tunes aside, the words in these lyrics are very good and tell more of the story than what is on screen.
But unfortunately, what can't be overcome is the familiarity of the film. It all feels like we've been there before, and therefore it's understandable as to why Disney decided to scrap the fairy tales.
Overall, Tangled was a good addition to my Disney shelf. I’m going to give it a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: A cult classic for good reason, with amazing effects, catchy tunes, and great performances from its leads.
unknown man named Jack Nicholson). In the early 80s, it then became a smash on Off-Broadway, before moving on to the final product in the film. The director of this was Frank Oz, of Muppets fame. And then, the movie nearly didn’t get released when the original ending (that ends like the musical) was deemed as “too dark” by audiences. After extensive reshooting, it was finally released as the product on DVD. In 2012, Warner released a copy of the original ending, restored to color.
Doesn’t that sound like a long path? But, I guess it’s fitting, because we are talking about a musical that is based about an alien man-eating plant. Sometimes things take a long time to “grow” (Boring a line from Ryan’s humor catalogue). So what do I think about the film? Well frankly, I think it’s fantastic.
Let’s start with the music. It’s fun and catchy and you will often find tunes stuck in your head weeks after watching the movie. Along with that, the dialogue has a rhythm that is musical in nature, even when the songs aren’t being sung. The songs vary, but even when they are allowed to be sweet, they are satirical in nature and delightfully tongue in cheek (“Somewhere that’s Green” – which, as a side note, might be one of the creepiest/best Family guy spoofs ever).
Rick Moranis is also wonderful. I didn’t realize how much I missed him in films until I watched this and realized how long it had been. He toys the line between being the perfect “everyman” and a true loser. Ellen Greene is a lot of fun in the role as Audrey, alternating between blond bimbo and crushed gutter girl. There are times her voice may grate your ears a bit, but when she really opens it up in a few of the
not to be overwhelmed by what is on screen. The plant is lip-syncing, but it is being done so marvelously that it seems the voice is indeed coming from the plant. And the voice is perfect, with that deep velvety sound that is so smooth you can’t even blame Seymour. The laugh is also so unique that you believe how much fun it was to voice it. I once read that it took about forty puppeteers to run Audrey II in her final scenes in the movie, and that level of commitment is one that had to of been brought from Frank Oz after years of working with puppets (and Muppets).
I nearly forgotten to mention what I think is the best part of the movie, and probably the greatest cameo in a film of all time. Steve Martin as a sadistic dentist is superb. You can’t help but laugh at his campy ridiculousness, and love his song. But even his performance is overshadowed by a man that was absolutely at the top of his craft at this time: Bill Murray. Played as the perfect foil to Martin, you love every minute of his marvelous performance. I won’t ruin it here, just enjoy it when you can.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"