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‘Tangled’ is Fun, But Could Have Been Better

Tangled, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ adaptation of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel, opens in theatres on November 24. It is Disney’s 50th animated feature.

Tangled has as much ‘heart’ and adventure as Pixar’s latest release, Toy Story 3. One of the most moving elements is the backstory of the royal couple and their subjects never forgetting the ‘lost princess’. The chase sequences with lovable rogue Flynn Ryder are generally exciting and work well in 3-D.

Laughs are in abundant supply as well, provided in equal measure by leading and supporting characters (excluding underhanded Mother Gothel) who are as funny as any created by Disney. There’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of Rapunzel’s pet chameleon Pascal as a dummy that cracked me up.

But Tangled follows too closely the mold of previous animated musicals from the studio and that results in its greatest weakness.

The team at Disney apparently felt that they had to to make this a musical; it would have worked better not as one. Chief creative officer John Lasseter evidently didn’t challenge this idea.

Alan Menken’s score is stirring when it appears forcefully, but is often interrupted by the weaker original songs, no match for his work with Howard Ashman. During a pivotal scene, the score builds up until it is awkwardly disappears —the scene is effectively restarted to make room for a song.

Another problem area is the introduction, which feels rushed and doesn’t do much to get the audience excited. As for the conclusion, the writers paint themselves into a corner, so that the resolution of danger ends up relying on contrivance and the imagery borrows heavily from Beauty and the Beast.

The final scene helps to make up for this. That may explain why I left the theatre with a smile and a sense that, while Tangled is not perfect, it is definitely entertaining and proof that Disney Animation is slowly returning to the right track creatively.

20 thoughts on “‘Tangled’ is Fun, But Could Have Been Better”

  1. Saw this at a preview screening yesterday and I thought it was simply smashing; I agree that the songs were the weakest points of the film, but the overall comedy and tone were fantastic. Additionally, Zachary Levi’s casting as lovable rogue, Flynn, was great.

    Overall, I loved it and was very impressed to see Disney, as you said, getting back on the right track creatively.

  2. Honestly, a rushed introduction these days may be a welcome change, so many movies lately have been taking WAY too long to get past the introduction (Disney and Non DIsney alike).

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  4. Sounds like the same issues with Princess & The Frog. As much as I enjoyed the music, the score and many of the songs weren’t that strong.

    Is it possible John Lasseter’s musical insight might be the problem? We all know how much he likes to dip his fingers into these projects and for the most part it works out. But he’s had ZERO experience with musicals.

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  6. For anybody who doesn´t like musicals, there are more than enough animated films out there. I am happy and excited to finally see an animated musical by Disney again. I agree that Lasseter should *not* have any say when it comes to music – in my opinion, he single-handedly ruined PatF by hiring Randy Newman (on the other hand, the movie would never have been made without Lasseter…)
    Fact is that Tanled is the first computer animated movie ever that i´m looking forward to – and that´s because it´s a musical. I have heard only 2 songs yet, but if the rest of them is only 20 percent as good as “I see the light”, then I´ll be more than happy.
    From what I have seen so far, the movie will look considerably better in 2D – I will definitely skip the 3D version.

  7. I have yet to see Princess & The Frog (BAD Disney fan, BAD!), but this appeals way more. I am a fan of Alan Menken’s work although as you say the very best he produced was with Howard Ashman. Ashman was a great loss to the musical world.

    I have to admit I always think it’s a bonus when the songs are as good as the general plot and animation these days; for some reason I don’t expect them to be excellent musicals anymore. I don’t know if that’s sad or not!

  8. First off, I don’t know what spoilers were in this post
    Secondly, I assume any review of a movie will contain spoilers
    Third, this may be the end of non-Pixar produced animated features

    Maybe it’s time the DIsney Animation Department gets back to making movies staring the “Fab 5”

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  10. Thanks for the succinct review.

    Honestly, I mostly wanted to express my vehement disagreement with the Princess and the Frog naysayers. That film was brilliant and the music MADE the picture. It was Disney through and through. Friends on the Other Side is like a 21st century version of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion mixed-up with Baroque Hoedown. I still get goose bumps every time I see or hear Dig a Little Deeper. Anika Rose has an amazing voice that was put to perfect use on Almost There. It is quite a sophisticated feature all-around.

    Now, the score is not as compelling, but certainly doesn’t detract either. It isn’t ground-breaking and has many of the same themes and rhythms that have been hanging around Newman’s work for years. Nevertheless, they are truly American themes, Coplanesque even, and so perfectly appropriate for a musical set in New Orleans.

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  12. I just saw the Tangled with my kids today. And yesterday we visited Disney Museum in San Francisco. So I was looking forward to see one of the first movies produced by Disney-Pixar alliance. I was a little bit skeptic, too – it was such a long time and wait to have true Disney movie again. And I wasn’t disappointed. While some moments might look a bit weak the movie itself is animated wonderfully through and through. Animators did top notch work – in all details – cloth moving, breathing, light spots, just amazing work. It was such delight to see how thoroughly everything was done. I truly believe and hope that with Tangled Disney started anew and we all see the true Disney spirit again. Disney’s strength is in its craftsmanship, in perfectly painstakingly created stories that live decades. And it’s commitment to have the best animated scenes. When you forget the technology behind it and only enjoy beautiful animation and story created by it. I applaud to all animators who worked at Tangled!!!

  13. [spoilers]

    I felt the intro given by Eugene was a spoiler in and of itself. If he hadn’t said what he said, the ending “death scene” would have made me bawww my eyes out. Instead I kind of knew he was going to live, although this was a Disney film, so it was expected. Even so, even so.

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