(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Tangled. The song "When Will My Life Begin" plays throughout)
Doug (vo): This is the other animated Disney flick that I’m sort of gonna cheat on, Tangled. I know, technically, it’s a 3D animated movie, but let’s be honest, it’s a 2D film in 3D’s clothing. The characters are designed like 2D animation, the backgrounds look like something out of 2D animation, the story is very reminiscent of the traditional Disney fairy tales, it’s basically a 2D animated flick. So I’ll bend the rules a little bit and review this one as well.
[A clip from The Princess and the Frog is shown briefly]
Doug (vo): And I also feel it a bit necessary to compare it to the last 2D animated film, The Princess and the Frog. I know that’s probably not fair to the movie, but at the same time, one film only did okay and one film did a lot better, and this was the one that did a lot better. And seeing how they came out back-to-back, I guess it does make sense to see why one did better than the other. So let’s talk about the absolute best aspect of the film: the story. And it’s rare that I say that, but the story to this film is brilliant. This is the classic retelling of a fairy tale that Disney used to do best. It’s not exactly like the original, but the changes are not only incredibly creative, but half the time, they’re improvements. It transitions the story into film perfectly. Okay, so what is it?
Doug (vo): Apparently, there’s this magic flower that gives eternal youth, but it only seems to do it when you sing a certain song that this witch figured out. So the witch has been using the flower for years, that is, until the queen of the land gets incredibly sick. So the flower is found and used to keep her alive, but the witch loses her ability to keep young. It seems the flower has been crushed down to herbs and has now been passed on to the queen’s daughter, Rapunzel. And the quote/unquote "flower power" actually seems to be in her hair. So the witch kidnaps Rapunzel when she’s just a baby and uses the power of her hair to grow younger. And seeing as how she wants to live longer and longer, she grows the hair longer and longer. All throughout this introduction, I was shouting, "Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! This is a fantastic setup!" There’s a reason for the hair to grow long, there’s a reason for her to be in the tower, there’s a reason to incorporate music into this. It was just wonderful! And on top of that, the setup for the rest of the story is actually pretty good, too. Rapunzel grows up into a teenager, of course, under the care of her controlling witch mother. But when a famous thief enters her tower, she knocks him out and tries to get some information out of him. He agrees that if she lets him go, he’ll lead her to this ceremony that seems to take place every year on her birthday. This ceremony, it turns out, is raising a bunch of lanterns in the hope that someday, she will find it and return back home. She agrees, and from here on in, it’s pretty much the adventure you’d think it be. There’s sword fighting, horse riding, dancing, singing, romances, evildoers, all the stuff you’d expect from Disney.
Doug (vo): So, just from that ingenious setup, you’d expect this to be maybe one of the Top 5 Disney films of all time, right? Well...there are some problems. One is the voice acting. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible, it’s not even that bad, I just can’t find myself getting that invested in these voices. As soon as I heard Rapunzel’s voice, I remember thinking to myself, "Oh, that’s a celebrity voice." And wouldn’t you know it? It was.
[The caption "Mandy Moore" appears below the character of Rapunzel]
Doug (vo): And as soon as I heard the thief’s voice, I remember thinking, "Hey, that sounds like a guy trying to do a thief’s voice, but not actually a thief." And that’s my major problem with this movie. As brilliant as the setup is, everything feels like they’re trying to convey that traditional Disney film. Sometimes, it works, but other times, much like Hunchback, it feels pretty forced, like the musical segments.
[Several of the film's song sequences are shown]
Doug (vo): They just sort of come out of nowhere. They feel very rushed, and I don’t feel like it really matches the movie. I mean, granted, I’m not a big fan of Randy Newman, but it matched in The Princess and the Frog. It was New Orleans, it made sense to have that kind of music. Here, this sort of pop, guitar/Broadway/Billboard Hits sound, I don’t know, it seems a little out of place. And honestly, those two things are my only problem, but they’re kind of a big problem. The Princess and the Frog, it was the story, and everything else was fine. This, the story’s great, but everything else seems kind of done.
[Two side characters, Maximus the horse and Rapunzel's parents, are shown in several clips]
Doug (vo): Now don’t get me wrong. There are some real standout moments. In fact, I’ll tell you my two favorites. One is the horse. This is one of the great movie horses. He’s, like, the Javert of horses. It’s just a great character. I could watch this thing forever, he just cracks me up. The other is the animation on the parents. Now that’s really interesting, because they never have a line in this movie. But, holy smokes, look at the reaction on their faces, look how torn apart they are. That is some of the best emotion I’ve ever seen in any animation, and it’s all done without words. But still, that doesn’t make up for the two main characters. And as I said before, they’re not bad, they’re well-written and they look great. I honestly just think it’s the voice work. And even then, it’s not horrible. I’m just always aware I'm hearing somebody behind a microphone, I’m always hearing somebody acting, I’m always hearing somebody put on a performance, and when you’re constantly hearing that, you can’t get as invested.
[Various other clips resume showing]
Doug (vo): So why did this film do a lot better as opposed to the last film about a princess, The Princess and the Frog? Is it a race issue? Could be. Is it because there’s more guitar-playing pop songs that can appeal to the general public more than Ragtime-New Orleans sound? That’s possible, too. But again, I think it comes back to my original theory: 3D animation. I think the film did well because the advertising played up that there was gonna be more adult jokes, even though there weren’t that many, the fact that the story, to its credit, was a lot more simpler than Princess and the Frog, and, like I said, the fact that it’s 3D animation makes adults think that it’s gonna be made for them, too.
Doug (vo): So do I like it? Sure. It’s a good flick. While the voice acting is distracting, it doesn’t destroy the film. I mean, I’m with it enough. The backgrounds still look nice, there’s a few genuine soft moments, the side characters are fun, and, like I said, it’s a great story. I guess, for me, I just like the updates to the Disney formula in The Princess and the Frog more than I like the updates in Tangled. Somewhere, there’s a brilliant Disney movie here. If we took the story of Tangled and the animation and characters of Princess and the Frog, we could get something as brilliant as Beauty and the Beast; it’s in there, I know it. But still, if you’re looking for a good adventure that also has that fairy tale edge to it, Tangled is not a bad rent. Check it out and see what you can get wrapped up in.
[The ending of the main love song in the film, "I See the Light", is shown]
Rapunzel and Flynn Rider: [singing] Now that I see you...