Sunday, July 03, 2011

Netflix Queue Challenge: Tangled

Hey look, it's a blog post! Busy-ness at work and, well, a lot on TV, have kept me from both the blog and the Netflix Queue Challenge. It didn't help that I've had Tangled at home for three months. Sure, there's Watch Instantly, but, you know, TV.

Anyway, I kept Tangled lying around for so long not because I was avoiding watching it, but because I wanted to watch it when I was able to give it my full attention, and with Boy. I'd heard such good things about it, and I'm predisposed to like Disney musicals, and Alan Menken musicals, and anything with Donna Murphy in it.

But...meh. I mean, it was fine. But there was so little to it. There's hardly any story, really, and all the characters felt so thinly drawn. I did really like all the lead actors. Zachary Levi (who I've never seen in anything but found mildly off-putting because of the way I find Chuck mildly off-putting (no, I've never seen it, yes I'm being judgmental, hello look at the name of the blog)) was quite good, in a way that reminded me of Kevin Kline (maybe that's just my love of Disney's Hunchback coming through). Mandy Moore was good in an awfully bland lead role (Tiana and Anika Noni Rose set the bar pretty high in The Princess and the Frog). Donna Murphy was deliciously Donna Murphy-ish, though again without much to do. The idea of such a brilliant musical theatre actor, who tends to brighten up anything she's in (eg Star Trek: Insurrection) as a Disney villain made me really happy, but she was such a boring villain that it seemed like a waste. She did great with what she had though, and I felt like the animators really captured her physicality too. I also thoroughly enjoyed the chameleon.

There were some beautiful sequences, but why did everyone have such creepy giant eyes? And after seeing a display at Disney World about the animation and how there was a whole separate team of animators just for her hair, I expected more from it technically (the movie, not her hair...well, her hair too).

It fell flat as a musical too, with only a handful of songs, none of which are going to be Disney classics. Because there were so few of them, they all felt a little shoehorned in. It never seemed like a world in which people sing. And then they did. It felt obligatory.

None of that would have mattered if the story had been better. It just all felt a little lame. The supporting characters had no, well, character, and the deus ex machina involving them felt completely unearned. I appreciated the attempt to put a twist on "Rapunzel," but what they came up with didn't make a whole lot of sense, even for a fairy tale. And why on earth would you name your child after lettuce unless there were a reason to?

I'm being hard on Tangled because my expectations were high, I guess. I enjoyed it well enough, and laughed several times, but it mostly made me wish I were watching Aladdin or Into the Woods (now when is someone going to cast Donna Murphy in that?).


Stephanie said...

I loved the lantern scene. Visually. The song, as one of my friends pointed out, totally ruined it.

What really grabbed me right away was how much sympathy I actually felt for the evil mother. They really made me question how evil she could be if she genuinely appeared to love her daughter.

Sure, she was using her for totally selfish purposes but it seems that they had a true mother-daughter relationship, unlike the original Rapunzel where Rap was kept locked away in the tower and there was no hint of love between her and the witch. This made me think there would be more payoff there. Because there wasn't, it made me think that I imagined the maternal love? But I don't think I did.

Adam807 said...

The lanterns were gorgeous. I didn't mind the song itself but it felt so unearned. Who are these people? Why should I care? It just felt like "insert love song here." It was certainly no "Suddenly, Seymour" or even "Kiss The Girl."

I did read the mom as pretty evil. I didn't see much love there, except for her fountain of youth. But it makes me think of "Into the Woods" again, where the Witch steals Rapunzel out of revenge (as in the Grimm original) but then does come to love her, and locks her in the tower to protect her from the world and the evil in it that she knows first hand. "Woods" has really set the bar for putting twists on fairy tales.