Monday, December 31, 2012

Movie Buff: Big Hair

After a brief sojourn for the holiday proper, Movie Buff is back, with the 2010 Disney Princess Flick, Tangled.

Thoughts, numbered, but in no particular order:
1) I thought the male lead was voiced by Owen Wilson, for a little bit, and thought he was smug and annoying.  Then I realized it was Zach Levi of Chuck, and thought he was charming and flamboyant.  I am fickle.
2) By taking a story that features a heroine raised by a magically knowledge woman posing as her mother, Disney has combined the evil stepmother with the evil witch.  Slow clap.
3) In case you're unfamiliar, the film is essentially the Rapunzel story, with added overtones of defying overprotective parents.  Disney takes a bold stance against satellite parenting.  Also a stance against literally sucking the youth out of your children.
4) It also added animal sidekicks, because... Disney.   If there aren't animals slavishly dedicating themselves to largely oblivious humans, then how we will be able to sell toys based on them?
5) On a related note, I kind of want to see a version of Les Miserables where the part of Javert is played by a horse now.
6) Early in the film, they show Rapunzel's growing dissatisfaction with her tower home via a montage of her doing all her daily activities: cleaning, swinging, ballet, reading, murals, etc.  While it's an effective scene, a part of me was actually thinking, "sounds pretty sweet to me."
7) A note to would-be tower prison wardens: if you don't want your captive daughters to yearn for the outdoors, you should probably not include open windows in your tower design.
8) It's surprising how aware I was of gender roles in the film.  I've watched a few animated kid flicks recently: How To Train Your Dragon, (obviously, since I did a review on it) Paranorman, and Brave.  But even Brave, which was explicitly about a girl's relationship with her mother, didn't quite scream "pay attention to gender roles" like this film did.  I think it's because the film isn't just a kid's film that happens to feature a princess as the lead; it's because it is a Disney Princess Film, and as such, it seems to funnel itself into such an interpretation above all else.  It's not bad on that score, really--the princess and thief pairing brings to mind Aladdin, but Rapunzel is much more the lead here than Jasmine ever was, and she isn't anyone's prize.  At the same time, I think I'd really like to see a Disney movie that featured a girl with other female friends.
9) On the note of gender awareness, it plays kind of weird in retrospect that the male lead, Eugene, voices the narration in the intro and outro.   Narratively, I can see the point, in that he won't show up for a while, and it's important that the audience realize he's coming.  And he explicitly says this is Rapunzel's story, not his, which is also important.  But at the same time, making him the narrator makes him, in a strange way, the author of her story, and that doesn't seem right.  And in another film, I may not have noticed it, but here... Disney Princess Film.  Gender spotlight.
10) There have been no good songs in a Disney film since they switched from 2-D animation.  This is probably not a coincidence.

Conclusion: I liked it better than Brave.  Not better than the dragon one.  Probably equal to Paranorman, but only because Paranorman had such a great climax.

EDIT: It's been pointed out to me that the movie is actually called "Tangled," not "Twisted." The mix-up is clearly Gregory McGuire's fault, not mine.
Later Days.

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