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Wayback Wednesday: Tangled (2010)

Am I the only one who would kind of love a tower in the woods where no one knows where I am? 

While in quarantine, what better movie to watch than one about a girl setting out on an adventure after being locked in a tower for 18 years? Of course, that’s just one reason to watch Tangled (2010). Other reasons include; it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious, it’s action-packed, the music is catchy, the animation is beautiful, and the vocal performances are full of charisma and joy. This may be a controversial statement considering the decades of classics Disney has under its belt, but I can say with absolute certainty that Tangled is one of my top 10 favourite Disney movies. Wanna know how I’m sure? I was so fully engrossed by the magic and fun of this movie, that I forgot to take detailed notes. Thankfully, from repeat viewings, I know every pro of this movie. Trust me: There are no cons.

Screen Shot 2020-04-05 at 6.14.14 PM
Credit: / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Tangled tells the story of Rapunzel, a lost princess kept in a tower by Mother Gothel, a villain posing as her mother to exploit the magical healing power of Rapunzel’s hair. When Flynn Ryder, a wanted thief, stumbles across her tower, the pair strike a deal: Flynn will show Rapunzel the outside world and in return, she’ll give him the stolen crown he stashed in her tower. Together, they set out an adventure that turns out to be much more than either of them had bargained for.

Look, I consider myself a Disney movie connoisseur, and Tangled is just the best. THE BEST. What I love most about Tangled is that it takes the most successful, beloved, and memorable aspects of past Disney hits, and effortlessly blends them with modern humour and storytelling to create what I consider to be, a new classic. Of course, when it comes to humour and story, it’s no wonder Tangled succeeds when you consider the talent behind the camera: You have Alan Menken composing, who did the music for Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Aladdin (1992) – check out my review, here – Byron Howard co-directing, who worked on two of my favourite Disney movies, Bolt (2008) and Zootopia (2016), and Dan Fogleman, the creator of This Is Us (2016 – present) writing the screenplay! An incredibly creative, talented, team was assembled for Disney’s 50th animated feature, and the proof of their hard work is evident.

Tangled is fresh, fast-moving, and ferociously funny. It’s an action-adventure, comedy that is also brimming with romance and entertaining, relatable characters. Really, a perfect Disney movie for me is one that keeps me laughing with its timeless comedy, inspires me with its well-rounded story, makes me swoon with its fairytale romance, and of course, is endlessly rewatchable. Tangled checks all of those boxes. In every way, it’s hitting all the notes that the most exceptional of live-action movies hit, and does so wonderfully. There are stakes and consequences, and the story keeps you entertained and interested from one action-packed scene to another. Rapunzel and Flynn are great characters who only enhance the natural adventure and humour of the story. Like any good pairing, they learn from each other, they’re vulnerable with each other, they have amazing chemistry, and of course, you genuinely see them falling in love.

Part of what sells their romance is the dream casting of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi. As Rapunzel and Flynn respectively, these two provide enough cartoon charm and whimsy to power a dozen animated adventures. The positivity and fierce headstrong attitude that Moore endows Rapunzel with is infectious. She creates a character that is a heroine you can’t help but root for and want to see more of. Strong-willed, resourceful, and the queen of quarantine activities, Rapunzel is a loving homage to the princesses of the past, while simultaneously blazing the trail for more modern, adventurous, princesses. Levi totally nails the swashbuckling Flynn. Roguish, dry, and one of Disney’s most ridiculously endearing leading men, Levi brings Flynn to life with such ease. If you don’t fall only slightly in love with Flynn Ryder even just a little bit, you’re lying to yourself. He and Moore are cast perfectly, to the point where much like The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) – check out my review, here – you could totally see the voice cast playing their characters in a live version of the movie. Sidenote, Disney, don’t you even think about doing a live-action version of this one.

Speaking of The Emperor’s New Groove, Tangled totally reaches that standard when it comes to physical comedy and cartoon hilarity. I mean, look no further than Pascal and Maximus. Two of Disney’s most expressive, animated, laugh-inducing sidekicks, this pair is able is so silently silly, they’re able to put adults in stitches. Some of the best Disney princess sidekicks are the ones who don’t speak, and these two are solid proof. I would happily set out on an adventure with either of them. Tangled strings together a rag-tag group of unlikely allies, and the end result is a group of memorable characters you’ll want to watch over and over again.

As much lighthearted silliness as there is to Tangled, one of its greatest strengths is that it isn’t afraid to venture into darker territory. I’m calling it now: Mother Gothel is one of the most twisted villains in the Disney canon. And that’s on period, sis. Diabolically manipulative and emotionally abusive, Gothel essentially gaslights Rapunzel, making her think she’s helping her when she’s really exploiting her for personal gain. For the heroine to not know who her villain is until the end of the movie is unique for Disney, and it’s twists like that that make Tangled stand out as an original take on a classic fairytale.

Tangled may only boast a handful of songs, but thanks to Menken, they’re easily as memorable as past tunes he’s composed for Disney. “When Will My Life Begin” is a fabulous “I Want” song, and “Mother Knows Best” is deliciously wicked fun because it’s a villain song that melodically, doesn’t sound like a villain song. But those lyrics! Those lyrics are some serious psychological manipulation…Of course, my favourite song is the gorgeous duet, “I See the Light.” Not only is it an enchanting piece of music, but the animation behind the sequence is one of the most romantic moments Disney has ever put to film. If anyone would like to serenade me in a gondola while thousands of lanterns float around us, please, feel free.

I love Tangled. This was probably not my most articulate review because honestly, every once in a while a movie comes along where if someone asks, “why is it so great?” all you can respond with is, “oh bitch, it just is.” That’s Tangled.

Oh bitch, Tangled is just great.

It’s rare for a movie to succeed in every aspect of filmmaking and storytelling, and even rarer when it’s an animated one. Tangled defies those odds and delivers a perfectly pleasing and endlessly enjoyable good time that I promise, you’ll never tire of watching. Without a doubt, Tangled is a hair-raising good time. Ok, mad respect to me for limiting my hair-based puns to just one!

Are you as big a fan of Tangled as I am?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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