One of the (many) perks of being in a relationship with MWF is her Disney collection. As a total Disney addict she owns all of the “Classics” series, which is cool as my Disney viewing has holes in. Of course, I’ve seen most of the big ones, and most of the ’90s ones but before we started dating there was a massive gap between Mulan (1998) and Wreck-It Ralph (2012), however, this has been sorted and I’ve now actually seen almost every single film, especially from the gap. Among these is one that has quickly become one of my favourite all time Disney movies, Tangled.
The movie is a retelling of the Rapunzel myth but with added bits. It begins with the story of a drop of sunlight falling to Earth which creates a magic flower which an aged witch Gothel (Donna Murphy) uses for eternal youth, however, when the pregnant queen falls ill the plant is discovered and used to save her. Gothel, incensed goes to slay the newborn princess, but discovers the magic has been passed onto the girl’s hair. She then steals the princess away and imprisons her in a high tower, keeping her secret and posing as her mother. To keep her there she teaches the young girl, Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) that the world is scary and people are after her hair.
However, as she grows up Rapunzel chafes against the confines of the tower and longs to explore the world. She also wants to see the “floating lights”, lanterns which are lit annually for her by the royal couple.
Hope arrives in the form of roguish thief Flynn Rider (Zachary Quinto), who stumbles on her tower while on the run. Rapunzel takes the crown he has stolen and uses it to blackmail him into taking her to see the lights. Flynn is initially unwilling and attempts to put her off by deliberately scaring her by taking her to a rough bar, which backfires thanks to the rough patrons revealing that they also have dreams. This is by far the best music number in the movie a hilarious sequence where the thugs reveal their hobbies and passions before forcing Flynn, at sword point, to join in.
As they travel, Flynn discovers her hair’s secret and takes her to the city, however, Gothel is in pursuit and allied with Flynn’s former associates the Stabbington Brothers (both voiced by Ron Perlman). Her plan is to trick Rapunzel into thinking that Flynn has no feelings for her, thus making the heartbroken girl easier to control and contain.
Flynn honours his promise to show her the lights and this scene, accompanied by a decent ballad is utterly beautiful, the CG creating a beautiful sequence where the lanterns take flight making it for me one of the all time highlights of any animated film.
Double crossed Flynn ends up in the custody of the guards, but escapes, racing to rescue Rapunzel.
Here’s the thing, I love this movie and a large part of that is down to Zachary Levi’s funny performance as the swaggering Flynn. Flynn is a world away from the usual Disney hero, being cocky, self-absorbed and sarcastic, in fact he’s more akin to a Han Solo or Malcolm Reynolds type. Of course, underneath this he is still a goodie and has some form of code. Flynn’s frustration at Wanted posters not capturing his face is a running gag and his vanity is one of his flaws.
The relationship between the cynical Flynn and naive, cheery Rapunzel works in an opposites attract way, and the movie should get props for the fact that Rapunzel is in charge of her own destiny and quite heroic herself. Her naivety feels realistic given her sheltered upbringing and she’s not a complete idiot. She’s wary of what happens and knows when to step up, not relying on Flynn or others.
Their relationship develops wonderfully and is paced correctly, not feeling rushed or forced. The finale where Flynn reveals that being with Rapunzel has replaced wealth as his dream is sweet, and his decision to sacrifice himself to free her is a truly emotional moment. That this is reversed with some old school fairytale endings doesn’t diminish it and the ending is strong and satisfying.
Also the supporting cast are great, the animal sidekicks are cute and funny, and in Gothel there’s a truly despicable villain. I can’t think of another kid’s film where the villain is so manipulative or a film where guilt tripping is shown so clearly. Gothel is the kind of villain you just hate and it’s because a lot of her evil isn’t magic or fantastical, it’s worryingly normal and her key weapon against Rapunzel is emotional blackmail and manipulation.
Tangled manages to combine the fairytale magic of the old Princess movies (Sleeping Beauty, Snow White) with a knowing sense of humour and more independent heroine, making it the perfect choice to be the 50th Classic. It both nods to the past and represents a change in tone for Disney, and benefits from a funny, sparkling script which plays well to all ages.
An utter gem of a movie and one I can rewatch over and over.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.