Tangled (2010 movie) review…

Tangled (2010 movie) review after the break…

Tangled (2010 movie) review…

It is said that the Disney Corporation has a girl problem… Not that they can’t attract girls, female “tweens” and young female teenagers to their multitude of products but that they attract them too much to the point that it scares away the boys. After all, you don’t see young boys clamoring down the infamous “pink aisle” (the aisle that holds the dolls, usually in pink packaging, thus the name) at the toy store so why would they be compelled to associate themselves with girlie movies, television shows, computer games, music or the like?

The personification (or should that be “productification”?) of Disney’s ‘girl problem’ is their “Disney Princess” product line, a line that extends from actual physical merchandise to cosmetic (albeit G-rated) make-overs complete with an array of gowns and tiaras. The supposed origin of this massively successful product line (think “billions of revenue per year” successful) was when a Disney executive noticed a group of young girls, all dressed as their favorite Disney princess (and the Disney library of films has so many), waiting for their appropriate costumed Princess to arrive at a “Disney On Ice” event. It’s been “cha-ching” ever since.

If anyone is rolling their eyes at the notion that it’s easy to market to young girls… Well, that’s because it is. Marketers have long known that, after a certain age, young girls gravitate towards two things – Shopping and boys, not necessarily in that order. As such topics are more socially acceptable then what boys tend to gravitate towards – Violence and sexy women, creating products for girls is looked upon as far easier and more profitable then boys. Despite the gender stereotypes, boys are also far more fickle as Disney has infamously discovered – Two Disney movies that went out of their way to appeal to boys, “Treasure Planet” and “Atlantis,” both flopped at the box office. “Prince of Persia” & “TRON: Legacy,” other Disney attempts to appeal to the male gender, were also underwhelming at the box office. It apparently takes far more then a few choice action scenes to get boys to pay for product but the Disney animated movies that comprise the “Princess” line are like never-ending money machines – Even decades removed from their premiere, they’re still generating revenue. Honestly, is “Voltron” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” still pulling in the boys like that? Hardly.

“Tangled” is a 2010 Disney CGI animated movie that is yet another Disney attempt to bridge the gap between what girls will love and what boys will find “cool” (or however else it’s spelt nowadays). Disney fans were irate when the movie’s name was changed from “Rapunzel” to “Tangled,” a characteristic they fall into far too often but one in which they are generally right on for this particular time – The name change isn’t warranted but not for the reason one might suspect. This movie is a “Princess” movie and no amount of name changing or clever marketing can alter that reality. Anyone thinking that this might be Disney’s answer to the famous “cross-over” movie, “The Princess Bride” (a movie known by reputation as being “A romance fairy tale that guys can enjoy”), should keep on looking.

“Tangled” is the Disney re-telling of the fairy tale Rapunzel, a young woman with really, really, REALLY long hair. In this case, the hair is outright magical, having the ability to stunt aging and to even heal wounds. Stolen from her rightful parents, Rapunzel is locked in a tower by her overbearing “helicopter parent,” Mother Gothel. Rapunzel naturally wants to explore and socialize but, of course, Mother Gothel won’t let her. To keep Rapunzel company during these long, repetitive days is perhaps the movie’s most charming character, Pascal, a silent chameleon sidekick who communicates through body language. Give this chameleon a contract, even if it’s only a few animated shorts.

Rapunzel’s days of forced solitude are vanquished by the peculiar arrival of dashing rogue Flynn Rider, looking for a place to hide from just about everyone, including the guards from whom he stole and his conspirators, from whom he has stolen as well. When Rapunzel wishes to leave the tower to watch the yearly releasing of balloons (in memory of her being kidnapped), she makes a deal with Flynn – Escort her to the event in exchange for the item he has stolen. Like the “Godfather,” it’s an offer he can’t refuse (but one that, naturally, he tries to get out of as quickly as he can).

The movie plays out in typical romance fashion – Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets back girl. It’s a Disney movie so, of course, everyone lives happily ever after. Young girls will need little else to convince themselves to watch the movie… And that’s the problem. Like what was written before, this is a Disney princess movie. Boys need not apply. Granted, there are more action-oriented moments and more then a few inventive sequences but a boy must wade through some rather thickly-layered girl-centric scenes to get to them and that prospect may well be a deal-killer. If a reviewer squirms through some of the rather thinly-veiled, “But, Mother, why can’t I wear make-up NOW?” type scenes, how is Disney expected to think that young boys will?

Make no mistake – Disney makes an effort to throw some material at the boys. An earlier sequence involving a tavern filled with wretched rogues should give them more then a few laughs, along with the antics of the under-utilized horse, Maximus. There’s also a scene with a collapsing dam that should keep the boys at bay for a few minutes as well. Yet to place Flynn Rider on equal footing with Rapunzel in this movie is optimistic misstatement at best and outright lying at worst. Coupled with the decidedly male-centric and gender-neutral marketing that ran up to the premiere of this movie and I would have little doubt that there were more then a few young boys squirming in their seats at the theater inside of twenty minutes after the movie started.

Despite the bait-and-switch nature of the title change, the movie is generally good at what it does. I was surprised at the cleverness of Mother Gothel’s plan – Not just in kidnapping Rapunzel back but to make it appear as those Flynn had abandoned her so that she could win back Rapunzel’s loyalty as well. The plan is so clever and well-executed that Rapunzel’s rather quick revelation seems almost a little out of place afterwards. Pascal, in my opinion, steals whatever scenes he (it?) is in as Rapunzel’s silent companion, even up to Mother Gothel’s final tragic scene. I was also generally surprised, in a good way, that the movie utilized the rogues introduced earlier in a positive fashion at the climax of the film. The technical aspects are all competently accomplished – Lighting, computer animation, voice acting, and the such.

The unfortunate part of this movie is that one must wade through a lot of unnecessary bunk to get to a lot of the more innovate parts. Your tolerance for watching, “But, mother, everyone is going to the party!” type dialog will determine how often you hit the fast-forward button on the remote. Disney, yet again, turns to the ol’ “Falling to your doom” trick to dispose of their villains (Really? Again?!). Mother Gothel is more annoying then menacing with no overarching plan except to keep Rapunzel for herself – Why not profit from Rapunzel’s abilities? Also, why not have Rapunzel’s hair grow back – Imagine the possibilities. I mean, it’s dead tissue – This part of the myth doesn’t make any sense in light of scientific reality. Sure, the portion that’s cut has no power but why should the entire strand be affected? It’s never adequately explained.

Tangled is a nice movie but it’s a nice Disney princess movie and therein lies the problem. The secret to the Princess Bride was that it told a romance from the guy’s perspective; The problem with Tangled is that it tells a romance from the woman’s perspective which is what every romance tends to be told from in the first place. You can’t have cross-over appeal unless you… Well, cross over, which Tangled doesn’t do… Unless you count the name change.

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