I haven’t slept in well over 24 hours–a recent bout of insomnia coupled with a rapidly approaching cold are making my life somewhat hellish right now. Is there anything worse than being sick away from home?
Anyways, I’ve already read several hundred pages of the new Ender’s Game sequel (mixed emotions–some part of me feels like I’m defiling my childhood, but at the same time it’s a real guilty pleasure getting to see Ender grow up. Then again, now that I myself am a “grown-up,” it’s a little more difficult to sever my distaste for Orson Scott Card the Man from my obsession with Orson Scott Card the Writer), compulsively re-watched half of season 1 of Desperate Housewives in a single sitting (say what you will about DH, but it inarguably boasts one of the best pilot episodes of TV history), cooked and then eaten everything in my kitchen (still hungry), and desperately attempted to drug myself to sleep, but to no avail.
Finally I figured I’d come back to this blog, since I’ve been lazy about it, as I am with most things. But I had nothing to write about. Frustrated, I sought the advice of a friend, who suggested I simply write about whatever it is that I like to talk about most. That’s a pretty good idea, I thought, especially because, as anyone who has ever met me can attest, the thing I like to talk about most–like, more than anything else in the world–is how much I love the Disney animated feature film Tangled. Duh.
I’m not exaggerating, you guys. I love Tangled so much that I might even have to designate it as my Favorite Movie Of All Time.* Tangled is the only movie I have ever purchased on iTunes, because I need to have it accessible at all times of the day and night, on every device. I love Tangled the way other people love their pets, or their favorite color. I have at some point forced every friend, sibling, parent, and coworker to watch Tangled with me, because if I find out you haven’t seen Tangled, I will literally drag you back to my place and make you watch it strapped down Clockwork-Orange-style while I stare intently at your face for the next 100 minutes so I can watch you discover a wealth of emotions YOU NEVER EVEN KNEW YOU HAD. THAT’S HOW GOOD TANGLED IS.
*Not including 1985’s Teen Wolf.
So if you haven’t seen Tangled, and the above endorsement is not enough to make you run out and get it RIGHT NOW, maybe you should wait to read this one until you GROW A SOUL. Either way I’d like to spend evening doing what I do best: watching Tangled and explaining the reasons why I love it so much.
Are you ready? Cool. Necessary Spoiler Alert, but it’s a fairy tale, so you should really know how this goes already.
Mandy Moore as Rapunzel
Now, before you get indignant, I will assure that that I, like you, was once not a fan of Mandy Moore. She burst onto the scene in the prime of my middle school years with her catchy tunes (Candy) and cookie-cutter roles (The Princess Diaries, A Walk To Remember, Chasing Liberty) so Mandy always struck me as too sugary, too poppy, too much, well, like a bitch.
And then came Saved! and all of a sudden Mandy went from Bitch to Badass Bitch (an important distinction), and into my heart forever:
After proving to us that she could be both self-aware and legitimately hilarious, Mandy Moore ascended into adulthood with understated class. The same reasons I hated her in middle school (she’s too squeaky clean) are the same reasons I love her now (I would trust her with my kids, y’know?) So when I found out she’d be voicing the next Disney Princess, I was nothing but thrilled. She brings just the right amount of youth, pep, and BadAssery to the role of Rapunzel, who will heretofore be referred to, of course, as Mandy. And of course…
Mandy is Nuts
Okay, what’s so great about this Disney Princess above all others? Well, for starters, she’s clearly BATSHIT CRAZY. We’re talking about a girl who’s been kept in total isolation for 18 years and has developed a pretty severe case of Stockholm syndrome (more on that in a moment) and a potentially hallucinatory relationship with a chameleon. Mandy also has what appears to be an extreme case of OCD. I mean, let’s look at what our girl gets done in a SINGLE morning (via the movie’s first big song, When Will My Life Begin):
- start chores; sweep til floor’s all clean
- polish and wax
- do laundry
- mop and shine up
- sweep again (AND BY THEN IT’S LIKE 7:15)
- read a book (or maybe two or three)
- add a few new paintings to her gallery
- play guitar
- basically just wonder, when will her life begin?
All this is before lunch, of course. Then after lunch it’s puzzles and darts and baking, papier mache, a bit of ballet and chess, pottery and ventriloquy, candle making, then she’ll stretch, maybe sketch, take a climb, sew a dress! Phew! This chick gets more done in a day then I did in all of 2012! Which is okay, of course, when you realize she probably needs to keep herself stimulated at all times to avoid descending into a permanent state of insanity.
She spends the remainder of the time convinced that the lights she sees in the sky are somehow signaling to her, and even though it turns out that they totally are, that doesn’t make it ANY LESS CRAZY.
Desperate, delusional, and with fabulous hair? This is a Princess I can relate to.
But back to that Stockholm Syndrome thing…
Mother Gothel is the Scariest Disney Villain in the Canon
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look. For starters, she comes from a long line of Disney Villainesses–Evil Queen, Malificent, Hot Ursula– who are ugly on the inside, but total cougar-mama-babes on the outside. I mean, check this sexy broad (voiced by High Queen Goddess Donna Murphy):
But it’s not just Mother G’s rockin’ bod that makes her such a great character. For the first time ever, Disney gives real emotional depth and subtlety to an arch-villainess. Sure, she’s so vain that she kidnapped a baby to stay young and hot forever (and hey, who wouldn’t?!) but she genuinely loves Mandy–and Mandy genuinely loves her too. She calls her Mother, and truly believes her to be such, so when the claws come out, it’s that much more frightening. I mean, they even have their own special little ritual: “I love you,” says Mom; “I love you more,” says Mandy; “I love you most,” says Mom. And they mean it.
Not to mention that she has the most FABULOUS one-liners. Seriously, these zingers would put the most Long-Island-Jewish mother to shame–in fact, a cut verse from the song “Mother Knows Best” is practically taken out of the handbook:
Go ahead, get trampled by a rhino!
Go ahead, get mugged and left for dead!
Me, I’m just your mother, what do I know?
I only bathed and changed and nursed you!
Go ahead and leave me. I deserve it.
Let me die alone here. Be my guest.
When it’s too late you’ll see, just wait.
MoooOOOOTHER knows best!
Oy vey. Too bad we don’t get to hear it in the final cut, but don’t worry, Mama G. spares nothing–even making catty comments about Mandy’s weight (“Gettin’ kinda chubby–I’m just saying cause I wuv you!”)
But in the end, Mandy is completely and utterly devoted to her –which makes Mother Gothel’s *SPOILER* brutal death *WHOOPS* all that much more shocking, scary, and heartbreaking.
A.K.A., the douchiest “Prince Charming” of the Disney canon, played with douchey gusto by Zachary Levi. Okay ladies, I know the Princes have always been sexy (marry me Eric), but finally we are presented with one that is supposed to be, and not just as a result of our projected pre-teen hormones on bland strong-chinned cartoons.
Look, I’m baffled by the science of what gives cartoon characters the ability to be totally hawt, but the animators have certainly done it here. Of course, the writers then beat him to death with one of the lamest senses of humor of all time. Not on purpose, of course–Flynn is supposed to be cool, snappy, a real player–and while it’ll probably delight the kids and many of the teenagers, in the end he’s just the Chandler Bing of the movie.
But even though he’s a real wisenheimer, he does provide a lot of genuine LOLs and has kind of a Jim-from-the-Office thing going on with the audience, which is fun. The first time he bears witness to a musical number, for example, he’s just confused to why everyone is singing in unison. It’s a little trite, but it does the job, and we love him for it (even when he confesses his real name is Eugene Fitzherbert, and while Mandy might “like it better”, ew, right?)
These Burly Ginger Twins
Tangled‘s animal pals follow the only rule I really care about when it comes to cartoon animal pals: they can’t talk. It’s too easy–what else is animation for, if not to convey feeling without words? This one does it seamlessly and hilariously, and goes to show that the silent comedy bit can still be gold. Okay, the chameleon kind of sucks, but we get treated to Maximus, a horse with a plan, the ability to wield a sword, and be super sassy.
The Floating Lantern Scene
Yeah, I’ll say it: I cry every time. Why? BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING BEAUTIFUL, THAT’S WHY.
Seriously, we’re prepped the entire movie for this moment, and when it comes, it truly is stunning. Hands down the most viscerally gorgeous bit of Disney animation of all time. And yeah, it’s romantic, and there’s a whole “Kiss The Girl” thing going on, but it’s really the artists that get the credit for making this The Best Romantic Scene In Animation History. Powerful, powerful stuff.
The Ending Is Unexpected
I won’t give away this part–I’m still genuinely holding out hope that those of you who haven’t seen it yet are going to go out and watch it now. But suffice it to say that it really is surprising, emotional, and a little disappointing in the way all great movies should be. For you that who have seen it, hint: I’m talking about the fact that Mandy suddenly becomes Anne Hathaway in Les Mis, if you know what I mean.
A Lot of Other Stuff
I realize this entry is verging on the unreadably long (for you PHILISTINES), so even though there’s a gajillion other things I haven’t even brushed upon yet–the voice cast also includes Ron Perlman, John DiMaggio, Jeffrey Tambor, M.C. Gainey, Brad Garret, and Paul F. Tompkins, among others; the fact that Mandy has 70 feet of beautiful animated hair created by a team of over 30 artists that manages to not gross me out even though she drags it across like, dirt and stuff; the non-photorealistic rending technique that gives the movie the look of a living painting, Alan Menken’s 1960’s-rock-inspired soundtrack, and the fact that it’s the first Disney Princess movie to get a PG over a G rating (racy stuff!) Or just the fact that Disney doesn’t shy away from the obvious fairy tale tropes, and instead hits them head-on with a freshness and fervor that is just joyous to witness. Oh, and it’s funny. Straight up.
Look, maybe you think I’m crazy to be this passionate about a Disney movie. But you’re wrong. I mean, I’m crazy for other reasons, but not this one. I mean, maybe I’m crazy for this reason too. Maybe a little. But come on. It’s Tangled! A+++++