a peek inside the fishbowl

24 Nov, 2010

Tangled – not a review, merely a few thoughts

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy

A couple of weeks ago my family received an invitation to attend a special screening of Walt Disney Pictures’ “Tangled.”

Before I go much further I’d like to make two observations: all screenings, even special screenings at 10:00 a.m. in the morning, need to have popcorn available to the people who attend said screenings. I didn’t realize how deeply entrenched my need for popcorn is until I realized there was none to be had. Also, the Coliseum needs to hire some nicer people to collect tickets at the theatre doors. Having a staff member play the tough and vaguely threaten your family with instant expulsion for using a cellphone (not that we would do that) doesn’t make for a very pleasant experience. I get it, ok?  And no, I’m not carrying a videocamera. I AM A MOM, and besides, I really don’t think that videocameras have the ability to RECORD 3D MOVIES.

ANYWAY.

Tangle is Disney’s 50th full-length animated feature. I was eager to go. I am a fan of Disney. I think it’s easy for a person like me to be cynical about Disney as a mega marketing machine, sucking young children into its shiny vortex, but I’ve thought long and hard about it and I’ve decided that Disney is ok. I can choose not to allow the Disney Princesses figure prominently in my children’s lives. I can say no to all of that, but the undeniable truth is that Disney loves kids and they do it right. They hire the smartest and most talented people for whatever Disney undertakes; whether they’re making a movie, building a theme park, or hiring staff to populate those theme parks. Disney knows kids, and kids love Disney.

Tangled is a modernized version of Rapunzel. Rapunzel, if you recall, is a story about a girl with long hair who is trapped in a tower by an evil witch. It is one of many old stories that was collected and adapted by the Brothers Grimm. And like many of those stories, it’s a little bit scary. Their version includes unusual pregnancy-related food cravings, blindness, possibly sex, and other dark things that are difficult to explain to The Very Young. (Read a great synopsis of Rapunzel at Wikipedia.)

I know a lot of people have issues with Disney taking stories and making them their own. I don’t have a problem with this. I think it’s up to the parents to decide which stories to read to their children.

The Disney version goes something like this: When the kingdom’s most wanted (and very charming) bandit Flynn Rider (voice of Zachary Levi) is forced to hide out in a mysterious tower, he’s taken hostage by Rapunzel (voice of Mandy Moore), a teenager with 70-feet of magical, gorgeous golden hair. (There’s a great backstory about the hair, which includes – as you may have guessed – an evil witch.) As it turns out Flynn and Rapunzel strike a deal they set off on an adventure together. There’s a horse. And a chameleon. And some unexpected twists in the story.

Aaaannnnd that’s all I’m sayin’.

It’s a story with broad appeal. You don’t have to worry that little boys won’t enjoy this film. It’s not just a princess movie. (Although there’s no denying that Toys R Us are eagerly stocking plenty o’ Rapunzel dolls – with brushes, combs and hair accessories! – just in time for Christmas.) There is plenty of adventure here, some fighting, a few thugs (a few of whom turn out to be good guys) and lots of fun and good humour for the whole family. And a horse. OMG, the horse was probably my favourite part of this movie. I would go see it again, just to watch the horse.

Mark didn’t think he’d like the movie – in fact, he came close to begging off – but he liked it too.

Here’s the trailer:

A couple of thoughts and questions:

  • I liked Rapunzel as a character. She’s young, she’s brave, she’s curious and intelligent. And she knows how to use a frying pan (and it’s not in the way that you think.) But here’s a question, why do princess eyes have to be drawn so unnaturally large all the time, whereas prince eyes are fairly normal sized??
  • The witchy character in Rapunzel looks mildly middle-eastern (at least this was Mark’s observation). Look at this picture. (Those big eyes again!) I’m not sure I’d go so far, but she certainly was darker than our blond and fair heroine. I wish Disney could break out of this stereotype.
  • The film really tapped in to a couple of deeper issues, especially around mothers and daughters. Should Rapunzel question authority and listen to her (adopted and witchy) mother, why or why not? I’m trying not to overthink this part too much. Gah!
  • The animation is spectacular. What they do with her hair for example, is simply amazing. We saw the 3D version, and although some people criticize 3D I think it was put to really good use. It wasn’t overwhelming or overdone … i.e. 3D for the sake of 3D. It just added a remarkable depth to the film that made the whole experience that much better. 
  • Let’s talk music. There’s almost always a soundtrack in a Disney animation. Sometimes it’s overdone (I’m thinking about Tarzan here. PHIL COLLINS. No!) and other times it just fits. I think this one falls in the latter. (Mark disagrees. But I like the music! Don’t you?)
  • I cried. There I said it. I CRIED THREE TIMES. The mark of a good movie is to make you laugh and cry. Or both. This did both for me.  

Anyway, thank you Disney for the tickets!

I do recommend seeing Rapunzel while it’s at the theatre. So go!


8 Responses to "Tangled – not a review, merely a few thoughts"

1 | Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves

November 24th, 2010 at 5:46 pm

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I thought the horse was the best bit too. Boy did I laugh when he was on screen.

2 | Sarah (mrsgryphon)

November 25th, 2010 at 4:49 am

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When our eldest daughter was a baby (she’s almost 5 now), we kept the Disney stuff to a bare minimum… Now, I kind of wish she liked it more so that I could have an excuse to take her to the movies!! She’s pretty sensitive to scary characters or anyone getting lost/hurt/upset, so that eliminates many many kids movies. Maybe I’ll take the baby, she’s 18 mths and doesn’t have an ounce of fear in her!

3 | Denise Nielsen

November 25th, 2010 at 5:53 pm

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So glad you sent me the link – great to hear that I’m not the only person in the world who had wondered what the heck is with Disney princess eyes?

My kids really want to see this – we saw the preview and it does look fun.

We’ll have extra popcorn – on your behalf:)

4 | Vicky

November 26th, 2010 at 12:46 am

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Think my 4 year old son would like it?

5 | andrea

November 26th, 2010 at 8:39 am

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Vicky: depends on the 4 year old, but yes, I think so!

6 | Patricia

November 27th, 2010 at 7:41 pm

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Great review, I’m thinking of taking my 4 year old next weekend, she’s never been to a full length move though so we’ll see.
As for the big eyes, it goes back to psych and anthropology 101. Babies have big eyes and our innate response is “oh they’re so cute!” our Neanderthal response is “must protect big eyed little person”.
It brings out the caring, nurturing side of us so we automatically see them as a innocent person who we feel empathetic for and ensure that they are safe and protected.
You’ll also notice that in all the “foster care plan” type commercials, the kids all have huge brown eyes to help evoke our sympathy and desire to protect.

I have also had the debate with myself about how much Disney and Princesses to bring into our lives. We are pretty well surrounded by it now, but I try to balance it by talking about real princesses. The upcoming Royal wedding is a great opportunity to talk about real life royalty. Usborne has a new book called the Princess Treasury that talks about what princesses really do, some real present and past princesses and finishes with a few fairy tales.

7 | suze

November 27th, 2010 at 10:29 pm

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are there any scary scenes in it? my kids (4&6) have decided that they won’t watch Disney movies because they’re too scary — I wouldn’t dare show them the Little Mermaid or Aladdin (I know they’d be too scary), but I like the look of this one. Are there any dark, scary music, lightning, etc. type scenes?

8 | andrea

November 28th, 2010 at 8:43 am

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patricia: good points. Myself I try to limit princess exposure. I have no problems with the movies and stories, as long as the girls know they’re movies and stories.

suze: I hestiate to give you the green light seeing as they haven’t seen Mermaid or Alladin. Check out this website for reviews of children’s movies. It’ll give you more information about the movie before you see it and you can make your own informed decision. Parents gave Tangled a 5+ rating.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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