Where Have All the Writers Gone: A Tangled Review
Editorial note: This is the first of two reviews I will be posting for Tangled. It is written by my girlfriend, Alicia, who came away from the film with some pretty strong opinions. I will be posting my review tomorrow. Please note that there are spoilers aplenty below.
Having gown up on Disney films, perhaps I hold them to higher standard. By now, we all know that Disney, more often than not, has good luck sticking to a relatively standard plot equation; though a little trite, I am generally okay with this. A female character, human or animal, usually privileged in some way, encounters an unlikely male character, usually less privileged in some way (every so often the role of privilege may reverse). They form a gradual bond while entangled (no pun intended) in an adventure containing a few musical interludes, and fall in love in the end. We see this in Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Cinderella, etc.
Tangled, while it has all of the traditional makings of a classic Disney movie, lacks a definitive twist of originality to captivate an audience already familiar with this timeworn plot sequence. A Repunzel theme certainly had potential, but Disney apparently forgot to hire writers…oops. The characters were underdeveloped, the verbal exchanges were banal and anticipated at best, and the jokes fell short. Not one scene or sequence of events went by unpredicted. I hate to be a spoiler (but trust me you would have seen this coming) the one scene I simply will never be able to forgive finds Repunzel and Flynn Ryder about to drown in a cave filling with water because it is to dark to find a way out. We suffer though about 3 to 5 minutes of unachieved “suspense” while Repunzel conveniently forgets that her magic hair glows. Surprise! She blandly remembers (never would have guess it…) and they make a lackluster exit from the cave. Though the film’s contentt began to improve towards the end, the film lacked an ounce of true drama that could fully engross the viewer.
Furthermore, while I am generally a sucker for musical sequences Tangled’s songs left much to be desired. A properly done musical sequence in an animated film generally flows so well with the film and/or plot that you do not notice that it is different from the rest of the film. While watching Aladdin, for instance, we do not question why he is singing while running from the guards or riding the magic carpet. We just accept it. In Tangled, however, the songs are forced and the audience pays the price. The tunes aren’t catchy, the words aren’t memorable, and every time a character begins singing the viewer is drawn away from what is actually occurring in the film and becomes cognizant of the fact that singing in such situations is unnatural. I found that the CGI artwork further enhanced this problem. It’s a case of the uncanny valley. The more realistically the characters resemble the human form, the less realistic and more imposturous they seem, as they will never truly be an actual human form; just one more factor distracting me from an already weak storyline.
But, alas there was one glimmer hope…the closing credits (and not because it meant that I could leave). The artwork during the credits was amazing! It was a throwback to a more traditional style that did not go unappreciated, truly beautiful. If only the full film was drawn in this manner, I may have been willing to overlook some of the plot’s shortcomings.
All in all I found Tangled to be disappointing an uninspiring. It did not live up to what it could have/should have been. As such, I would like to close with a note to an old friend:
Please stop resting on your laurels and attempt to engage your audience. I liked you once. Maybe it could happen again.