Worthy of Being Disney's 50th in a History Longer than Rapunzels hair
Fan of SHIELD
Disney, oh Disney, you’ve had your ups and downs over the 49 movies you made before this. While there was a mid-2000s slump of disappointments, after Pixar became a full member of your family, you began to improve, with exciting adventures like Meet the Robinsons and Bolt, and the traditionally animated Princess and the Frog. With these under your belt thanks to the help of Pixar magic, your first CGI musical proves not to be a let down (like what Rapunzel does with her hair), but a raising of the standards for CGI animation as a whole, especially with Rapunzel’s long, long, long, long… long, long hair (thank Disney this movie isn’t as long as Rapunzel’s hair). Our story opens with Rapunzel’s mother being saved by a magic flower that Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) uses to extend her life and look young. After she accidentally reveals its existence to the guards searching for a cure for the queen, she desperately seeks to get it back somehow, and the queen’s daughter (who she was pregnant with when she was sick and cured) showcases magical hair whose abilities are eerily reminiscent of the flower. To get that power, she pulls a reverse-Bryan Mills, and uses her particular set of skills to take the princess, and use her hair as a magical restorative, and raises her as her own, raising her to be completely helpless. Fast Forward 17 or so years, and Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) wakes up to the day before her 18th birthday, and asks to see the lights that always appear on her birthday (which are actually the king and queen sending lanterns into the sky to get the attention of Rapunzel). After being refused, she eventually discovers Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) in her tower, after he runs in by accident after being chased by the castle soldiers for stealing Rapunzel’s crown from when she was a baby. After a hilarious interrogation scene, Rapunzel gets him to take her to the source of the lights in exchange for the crown. She boldly goes where no ludicrously long haired princess has gone before: the outside world, and after a montage of feeling good about abandoning her “mother” and feeling bad about it, she gets to the Snuggly Duckling, where a game of cat-and-mouse between her and Flynn and the guards begins, and continues for a while, culminating in another quality Disney climax. The plot isn’t exactly tangled in plot holes, but there is a little more pushing of suspension-of-disbelief than usual. Otherwise, Rapunzel is a great Disney Princess. She may not be as independent and confident as Anna and Elsa proved to be in Frozen, but she adapts eventually (remember she left her tower for the first time ever about 25 minutes in, and only ever had contact with “Mother” Gothel until Flynn arrived, so she was her only positive relationship in her life, and the only other human being she ever had contact with, so it’s alright and realistic for Rapunzel in particular to be a little helpless). Her chemistry with everyone in the film from Flynn to the Snuggly Duckling patrons is priceless comedy and an eye-opening experience to her. We’ve all had eye-opening experiences. All of us have had something happen to us that ripped up what we thought was true and burned the shreds while we’re forced to watch. This is Rapunzel seeing that the world is not the hell-hole that her “mother” made it out to be. Flynn is a classic suave, swashbuckling thief with a heart of gold who makes friends and influences people. All the music does its job, whether the characters start singing in the way all Disney characters must sing in this type of movie. Alan Menken provides a satisfying score while the cast provides wonderful songs that (while not the never-ending anthem Let It Go would be three years later) give us insight into the characters’ feelings and add a layer of fantastical feel-good. And don’t even get me started on the animation. The most expensive animated movie ever made could have just been an awe-inspiring look at how far animation has come since Disney first released Snow White in 1938, but in addition to how far they’ve come in 50 movies and 72 years (as of Tangled’s release), we see an amazing story of an innocent girl meeting the world, and seeing that (while her mother told some truth) everything, like the Weird Al song says, she knew was wrong: the world does have selfish people, but sometimes, the worst-seeming people have dreams too, whether they want to see the floating lights like Rapunzel, or they want to be a concert pianist, mime, or a Pokemon master (last one is my dream, the rest are all from the movie). It actually makes an old Walt Disney quote ring true: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Walt dreamed animation would bring joy to people, and animation in his name brings joy to those who watch to this day. May Disney give us fifty more classics, and many, many more.