One thing I must hand to Disney for: their movies are usually short and to the point, even the musicals. Lately, I find myself pressed for time in the evening. Part of this is due to my desire to get back to watching Downton Abbey for the third time through, and also owing to an increasingly busy schedule. Downton Abbey is my reward for a hard day’s work. As such, more often I have been opting for films with a shorter run time so that I can scurry into my room, turn out the lights, and drift to sleep to the staid beauty of early twentieth century Yorkshire life. There is one increasingly larger fly in the ointment of this pretty little arrangement, and it is the fact that the supply of less lengthy Disney productions is not endless. Further complicating the situation is my lack of desire to see most of them. That is where you, my faithful readers, come in with your suggestions. I may not want to look at yet another Disney princess tale, but I will take a gander and prattle on about it if asked. And yet, Tangled (2010) was not on any list generated by your recommendations. Me landing on it was a matter of scrolling past it numerous times, figuring it was only a matter of time before one of you put it forward, shrugging my shoulders, and copping on.
For a film about fairytales and princesses, Tangled starts rather darkly. There is a voice over from Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachary Levi) explaining how he is dead, but we will get to that later. Anyway, the story is meant to fill in all the burning questions you have ever had about the classic Brothers Grimm bedtime story Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore). If that does not describe you (shocking, I know), just know that it is about a girl with hair way past her ankles held in a tower be an evil sorceress. In this case, they toss in something about a magical flower being jealously guarded by a witch named Mother Gothel (voiced by Donna Murphy). It has the ability to keep her young whenever she sings around it. The nearby town knows of the plant, too, and manage to uproot it and use it to save their dying queen. Mother Gothel gets her revenge when the queen gives birth, stealing the child imbued with the power of the plant and keeping her locked in her tower. Years go by, and Rapunzel believes that Mother Gothel is her real parent, and Mother Gothel reinforces to the young girl the dangers of going outside. These seemingly prove true when a strange man, a thief no less, finds his way into her abode in order to hide from the authorities chasing him. He did steal a tiara, after all. At first, Rapunzel knocks him out with a frying pan, hiding him until Mother Gothel leaves again. What brings her around is seeing him as her ticket to view the famous floating lanterns. She has noticed that they come out every year on her birthday, and she feels a connection to them. Unfortunately, Mother Gothel is not inclined to take her to see them. Yet, when she goes away for a few days to get a different birthday gift for her charge, Repunzel devises a plan to get her wish and return before anyone is the wiser. Having hidden Flynn’s stolen goods, she tells him that if he guides her to where she wants, she will give back the crown when they return. Flynn agrees resignedly. Not long after they set off, though, Mother Gothel unexpectedly comes back and is furious that her human fountain of youth is gone. She goes looking for Rapunzel, though she is not the only one on the hunt. They are also being followed by an extremely dedicated horse named Maximus. They are nearly caught by Maximus and Mother Gothel at the Snuggly Duckling Inn where, despite its cute name, is actually the haunt of some shifty characters. Following a positively Monty Python-esque interlude where the thugs all reveal their dreams to be artists, Flynn and Rapunzel slip out the back. Still, Mother Gothel manages to catch up with them anyway, and while Flynn is away she casts doubts as to the thief’s commitment to Rapunzel. Mother Gothel says that Flynn will abandon Rapunzel at the first opportunity. Hence, she hands the tiara over to Flynn, the idea being that if he really cared about her he would stick around anyway. He does so, and it is because he is falling in love with her. Thus, they make their way to her former kingdom, and for the first time she begins to suspect that Mother Gothel is not actually her mom, a notion born of a picture of a lost princess she sees while in town. The king and queen had been setting up the floating lantern festival every year in hopes of bringing back their child. Yet, Mother Gothel finds them once more and tricks Rapunzel into believing Flynn has abandoned her. Flynn is also temporarily locked up, but is freed by Maximus. Together they go back to the tower where Mother Gothel ends up mortally wounding Flynn. Rapunzel wants to save him with her hair, but Flynn cuts it off before she can do so, which sort of leads to Mother Gothel demise. Have no fear, though, because apparently Rapunzel’s tears work just as well, and Flynn revives. Everyone is reunited and they all live happily ever after.
Tangled is a musical. One of the nice things about musicals when you are watching them at home is that they give you some time to do other things. I tend to eat dinner with my movies, so every time a song came on I used it to nip off to the kitchen to put something away, or grab a drink. Still, unlike most other examples of this ilk (I am looking at you, Frozen movies), I was a little more entertained than usual. I enjoy Rapunzel’s commitment to the frying pan as a weapon. It is even better when Flynn uses it to swordfight Maximus. I chuckled, too, when in the middle of the combat he excitedly comments that this is the strangest thing he had ever done. A few minor guffaws exited my maw during the sequence when Rapunzel tries to hide the unconscious Flynn from Mother Gothel. I would probably not watch this nonsense again. At the same time, I would not hate myself if one of my nieces forced me to sit through it.
In reflecting on Tangled, the faith that the king and queen displayed in believing Rapunzel would one day return is admirable. Recently at Confession, I complained to the priest about how hard I am on myself when I sin. It came with the explanation that sometimes I feel that the more I grow in my Faith, the less I should sin. That is, of course, not possible this side of the grave, but never was the statement “I am only human” truer than in this case. At the same time, it takes superhuman efforts to continue to get back up again when we fall down. And ultimately, we are only human. The “super” comes from God. Only by relying on him do we have the strength to face repeated failure, no matter how many lanterns you send up every year with no results. That is Faith.
I suppose, then, that this is a recommendation of Tangled. Again, I will not be repeating my viewing purposely, but if you have not seen it, you should. There is no audience that will not get something out of this retelling of a classic tale.