|Image from onlinemovieshut.com|
I love when a new Disney movie comes out. I watch every trailer, every clip, read every blog. I know more half the backstory of the movie long before I ever see it. I have mentioned on this blog that I wasn’t as excited for Tangled as I was for The Princess and the Frog. I think deep down I will always adore hand-drawn animation best. I love its feel, its ambiance. There is something about the opening scene of a well made hand-drawn animated film that makes me feel like I’m eight years old again. There is a softness to hand-drawn animation that computer animation has never been able to quite emulate exactly. Pixar gets close; Tangled may even get a little closer if I’m being honest, but it is still missing that magic I associate with the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast, the drama of the fight scene in The Lion King or even the magic Disney animators recaptured with The Princess and the Frog in the bayou scenes especially.
Now that I have waxed poetic about hand-drawn animation, let’s get down to brass tacks. I really didn’t love Tangled as much as The Princess and the Frog. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was funny, clever, with excellent storytelling and just beautiful to watch. The color palette for the film alone was delicious. But, and this is what usually makes or breaks a movie for me, I just didn’t love Rapunzel. I mean, I did love her but not the way I loved Tiana. I watched The Princess and the Frog and found a character I wanted to be more like, who sang a song I adopted as my theme song for my current mid-20s life, a character who immediately became a friend I needed to have in my life. Rapunzel had to grow on me and she did, by the end of the film, she was like girls I knew back in high school. I’ve had friends like her: flaky, fun-loving, slightly spastic at times, willing to take risks and see where life takes them. They are friends I adore and yet they exasperate me, tire me out now. It’s a stage we should have grown out of. And for that, I have to give major props to the storytellers who created an incredibly realistic 18 year old girl. And because of that, I think Rapunzel made me feel old at first. As she grows throughout the film, I came to like her a lot better and recognize the journey the story was taking the character on. But Tiana still wins in my book. I really do think this has to do with my age and where I am in my life. Rapunzel is the dramatic, exasperating teenager on her first adventure; Tiana has been around longer, realized that life isn’t going to be handed to her on a silver platter, that she needs to calm down and get to work.
Which brings me to issue number 2 – in a sense, Tangled and The Princess and the Frog are the same story. The heroine on a journey to learn more bout herself and reach a goal; the hero who has to learn to love someone more than he loves himself; the selfish villain who needs something only the heroine or hero can give him. It’s the same story arc, just wrapped in the fabric of a different fairy tale. Now, as someone who has studied fairy tales, and before you all cry fowl, yes, most fairy tales have similar plot arcs but I guess maybe I was just expecting someone more, something new. Which I will obviously be getting since Disney has said they are moving away from fairy tales for their animated movie plots for now. While I am not exactly happy about that at all, I do need to ask why they thought making two such similar fairy tale movies in a row was a good idea. There are other fairy tale plot arcs. I mean look at the order of the original Disney classics: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi. The next princess movie after Snow White? Cinderella in 1950, 13 years later. All I’m saying is maybe spreading the princess love out more instead of eliminating it all together is a better idea.
However, moving back to the Tangled discussion. And this last issue might really bring out the pitchforks…I didn’t care for the songs. I know right? I am the girl who buys Disney film soundtracks the second she leaves the theater usually and has them memorized about a day later but this one didn’t have me running to iTunes nor do I think I will be unless on second watching they grow on me. It wasn’t Menken’s score; that as always was impeccable. It was the song lyrics themselves that jarred me out of the story a bit. I especially found Rapunzel’s “When Will My Life Begin” a bit over the top and really didn’t hold a candle to a heroine’s anthem like “Almost There.” That song disappointed and the rest of the movie had to win me back. While I enjoyed “I See the Light,” I still am comparing it to the Golden Age songs and finding it lacking. That said, the songs did fit into the story well and always moved the story forward or told us more about a character so they served purpose (which was not always the case in The Princess and the Frog I will readily admit).
Oh dear, my three issues seem a bit much. It was not that I didn’t love Tangled or that I won’t buy it the week it comes out on Blu-Ray. I will and I will thoroughly enjoy watching it and laughing at the excellent writing again. And it is, without a doubt, another step in the right direction for Walt Disney Animation Studios. It just didn’t thrill me the way The Princess and the Frog did which means audiences everywhere will adore it a lot more than that film probably (I’m not usually that well in-tune with what audiences will like). I think there was just something in The Princess and the Frog that spoke to me, caught me at the right time in the right place that Tangled just didn’t get close to and this is why we have favorite movies and songs. I will always say Belle is my favorite princess but she was also the princess of my childhood. Tiana is the princess of my 20s. I think Rapunzel just came a little too late for me to connect with and that is just fine. Please go and see if she’s your princess. You won’t be disappointed along the way.