Tangled is a delightfully updated retelling of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel. The film is lovely to watch, the plot is engagingly re-imagined, so you don’t feel as if you are simply walking through a story you’ve read a thousand times before. It’s new enough that half-way through, I was on the edge of my seat asking: 1) how are they going to get out of this predicament? 2) how is Flynn going to redeem himself enough to be acceptable to Rapunzel? and 3) how are they going to bring Rapunzel home at last? The answers to these questions are the story, of course, and Disney has outdone itself in crafting a wonderful movie that adults will love and little girls will go bonkers for. There were several little girls in full princess get-up in our theater. They were so cute!
At first I worried that it was too up-to-date, but I calmed all the way down and enjoyed this film from the first scene to the happily-ever-aftering.
The answer to the question: Why is this Disney princess musical rated PG? I don’t know. It’s certainly not as scary as some of the earlier princess movies. Gothel is nowhere near as frightening as Maleficent. There’s the violence to be expected when a princess is being rescued, and the villain dies as most or all Disney villains die–by falling off something very high. There is nothing objectionable here–no potty humor, no innuendo, no nothin’–and happily, all the motivations are correct. This happens so rarely in film that it is really something when it is done right: people (and horses and chameleons) do the things they would do, and you can understand why they do them. (Worst offender ever here is War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise, where there’s this horrendous evil red goo growing all over the world and people are running toward it. Dumb!) We can understand, given her situation, why a woman keeps a girl locked in a tower for years and years, why a man would become a thief, why a child will return to an abusive home after being freed.
As for big-picture morality and universal themes, you’ll get a packful. Tangled is full of hard choices, delayed happiness, honoring parents, seeking truth, and noble self-sacrifice. Importantly, truth must be grappled with and understood, and self must be forsaken before ultimate happiness is won. Disney has not always been consistent here, remember that self-seeking, father-disrespecting mermaid who marries a man she hasn’t even spoken to? Not here. Here we have a strong woman who wants to know who she is and who is willing to fight to get to truth.
The chameleon is adorable. He doesn’t speak or go all spirit-world on us like the sidekick in Mulan. The horse Maximus is heroic. The music is wonderful–lots of good, fun songs. Tangled is a definite yes for the whole family. Fun enough for little children, interesting enough for mom and dad. Lots of good talking points for follow-up conversations.