August 9, 2012
Tangled (2010)
Grade: 49/100

Director: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
Stars: Mandy Moor, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy

What it's about. A Disney CGI animation adaptation of the Grimm brothers fairy tale. A peaceful Middle Ages village is ruled by a benevolent king and queen. The queen is pregnant but has a terminal illness. Only a certain rare flower can save her, and it is guarded by Gothel (Donna Murphy), a witch who has used its powers to retain her youth for centuries.

But guards find the flower. The queen is restored to health, and gives birth to a baby girl. She is kidnapped by Gothel, and raised in isolation in a tower. She grows up to be Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), a beautiful and pleasant young woman with an excellent (albeit strictly conventional) singing voice. Her lengthy golden hair has the same powers as the now-extinct flower.

One day a predictably handsome and engaging young man is wanted by the law for stealing perhaps the kingdom's most valuable treasure, the princess coronet. He is Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), and decides that the tower would make a great hiding place. There, he meets Rapunzel, and after an inauspicious start to their romance (she repeatedly assaults him in "comedic" fashion) agrees to escort her from the tower, where she has effectively been under house arrest.

Naturally, Gothel gets wind of the scheme, and schemes to return Rapunzel and her magic glowing golden hair to the tower. Flynn is arrested and sentenced to death. Meanwhile, Rapunzel realizes that she is not a peasant girl after all, but the missing kingdom princess.

How others will see it. Tangled cost a purported $260M to make. If this figure is accurate, and it is hard to believe, it makes Tangled one of the most expensive films ever made. Fortunately for Disney, it was a box office smash and eventually earned $600M in worldwide box office.

Critical reception was highly positive, and the movie earned an Oscar nomination for best song, although, tellingly, it did not receive a nomination for best animated feature.

At, the movie has a huge 100K user votes and a very high average grade of 7.8 out of 10. Unsurprisingly, young viewers and females give the film highest marks. Women under 18 bestow an 8.8, while men over 45 give it a lower but still respectable 7.6.

Tangled is popular because it gives its primary audience (12 year old girls) what it wants. It confirms the fantasy that the damsel in distress will be rescued by the ideal man as long as she is nice, young, virtuous, and beautiful.

How I felt about it. It didn't bother me in Aladdin that the hero was a thief. After all, he was dirt poor, and stole only what he needed to survive. In Tangled, though, the hero is not only a thief, but he is stealing the kingdom's greatest treasures. He also proves that, despite the cliché, there is no honor among thieves. He betrays his less handsome companions (taking the coronet and leaving them to be captured) despite his promises to the contrary.

We also question why the kingdom's rarest and most important flower is destroyed solely to extend the life of one of its richest and most powerful citizens: the queen. If they had brought the queen to the flower instead, its lifesaving power could have been preserved for the benefit of all.

We wonder how Rapunzel has such worldly knowledge when she has essentially spent her entire life in the tower alone or with Gothel. Why would Gothel supply her with books, and how would she know the light festival is on the same day as her birthday? Why wouldn't Gothel simply lie to Rapunzel about the lights, e.g. "their purpose is to find young women to rape and enslave."

It is especially dubious when Rapunzel implores Flynn not to "freak out" when he finds out about her magic hair. How would she know how he would react when her only contact with humanity is through Gothel?

Really, though, the problem with the movie isn't so much its value system or plot holes. The songs are several but none too good, the resolutions are predictable, and the two leads are blandly attractive in all the expected ways.