So I read a lot about how people were worried that since The Princess and the Frog (which was great, I saw it in theaters) didn't do as well in theaters as Disney had hoped, and that after Tangled, Disney will be scrapping the traditional princess story, that there's going to be a considerably less significant female presence in movies for children. This is something I'm still worried about, but in any case, that's enough for another post.
I thought Tangled was alright. It has a lot of the hallmarks of other Disney/princess movies, so although the story had been considerably changed from the traditional Rapunzel story, there were several parts of the movie that I just felt deja vu. (Disney does reuse character design, so I think that was part of it for me. The male lead, Flynn Rider, reminded me a lot of Aladdin, and the horse reminded me a lot of Pegasus from Hercules and Abu from Aladdin. The chameleon--actually my favorite character-- reminded me a lot of Pip in Enchanted... so on.) There were parts that were pretty funny, and the music was pretty good, but overall, after the movie, I was just left feeling like there should have been something else or they should have done things differently to make it really good.
this was actually the funniest character in the movie
As far as gender in the movie goes, I just feel blah about it. I thought Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) was a pretty good character, there are a lot of parts in the movie where she's adventurous and resourceful, but spends most of the movie wide-eyed and naïve (in contrast to Fiona from Shrek, who spent most of her life in a tower and comes out of it kind of badass and sassy).
One part of the movie stuck out for me in particular, in which Rapunzel gets a bar full of thugs to sing about their dreams, and all these huge scary guys start singing about how they like knitting and playing the piano and stuff. While part of me likes that there's this expectation-reversal, the making of big-scary-men into sensitive (effeminate?) characters, it's also kind of a tired theme that crops up too often in children's movies. (Men can only be secretly sensitive when they're actually physically intimidating as well... you rarely see sensitive or effeminate characters who could be construed as stereotypically gay. Female characters don't really get the opportunity to do these gender-expectation reversals, except in Shrek when all the Princesses became a kung-fu team... but you know what I mean.) And then when Flynn Rider's character gets coerced into singing, he starts off, "I have dreams like you, no really!/ Just much less touchy-feely!" and I groaned. It's funny that these big, huge thugs have all these dreams about touchy-feely things. But Flynn is not a party to that. So... for the boys who go see Tangled (if Disney does indeed reach its intended audience), what are they going to think? That liking these "unmanly" things is a joke? Because that's how the movie is portraying it.
The villain of the movie is the evil witch, Mother Gothel, a scary-looking crone whose greatest desire is to stay young forever. Is it just me, or are female villains more shallow than male villains?
Wicked Queen (Snow White, 1937): Object: be the prettiest. She's also a witch.
Evil Stepmother (Cinderella, 1950): Object: marry off her daughters, torture her step-daughter.
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty, 1959): Object: revenge for not getting invited to a party. She's also a witch.
Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmatians, 1961): Object: kill puppies for fashion.
Ursula (The Little Mermaid, 1989): Object: take over underwater kingdom. (Finally! Big goal!) She's also a witch.
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast, 1991): Object: get a wife, feed ego. (This one's a pretty shallow guy.)
Jafar (Aladdin, 1992): Object: take over kingdom. He is a sorcerer too.
Scar (The Lion King, 1994): Object: take over kingdom.
Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas, 1995): Object: take all the gold from the Native Americans, gain power.
Judge Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1996): Object: gypsy holocaust
Hades (Hercules, 1997): Object: Take over Mount Olympus
Shan Yu (Mulan, 1998): Object: Take over China.
Queen Narissa (Enchanted, 2007): Object: Be queen forever. She's also a witch.
Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog, 2009): Object: gain money and power. He's also a voodoo doctor.
So... the general trend seems to be that female villains have shallow, appearance-related goals while male villains tend to seek more power. Tangled is no exception. I didn't have high expectations for the movie, and while it wasn't bad, it just wasn't super memorable.