Ranking Disney: #18 – Tangled (2010)

I love Tangled. So much. I was practically giddy when I saw this. This movie does almost everything right. All my quibbles about it are minor (songs aren’t that good compared to the “Classic” Disney stuff, CG and not hand-drawn, still has a few annoying modern animated movie traits), and even so — it barely fits into the category of quibble-worthy for all of that stuff.

The movie itself is gorgeous, it’s funny as hell, always entertaining, and in all conjures up some of the best Disney moments they’ve done since their Renaissance. If they can put out something like this every year or other year — they’re doing all right by themselves.

Plus, it’s not even racist! I don’t think I spotted one really racist thing in this movie. Which is just a huge step for them. (Though again, with the CG. It’s just not you, Disney.)

The film begins with narration from Flynn Rider, saying:

“This is the story of how I died.

“But don’t worry, this is actually a very fun story, and the truth is, it isn’t even mine. This is the story of a girl named Rapunzel. And it starts with the sun. Now, once upon a time, a single drop of sunlight fell from the heavens, and from this drop of sun grew a magic golden flower. It had the ability to heal the sick and injured.

Oh, you see that old woman over there? You might want to remember her. She’s kind of important.

“Well, centuries passed, and a hop, skip and a boat ride away, there grew a kingdom. The kingdom was ruled by a beloved king and queen. And the queen – well – she was about to have a baby. But she got sick. Really sick. She was running out of time, and that’s when people usually start to look for a miracle. Or in this case, a magic golden flower.

“Ah, I told you she’d be important. You see, instead of sharing the sun’s gift, this woman, Mother Gothel, hoarded its healing power and used it to keep herself young for hundreds of years. And all she had to do was sing a special song.

“She sings to it, she turns young. Creepy, right?

“The magic of the golden flower healed the queen. A healthy baby girl, a princess, was born, with beautiful golden hair. I’ll give you a hint – that’s Rapunzel.

“To celebrate her birth, the king and queen launched a flying lantern into the sky. And for that one moment, everything was perfect. And then that moment ended.

“Gothel broke into the castle, stole the child, and just like that, was gone. The kingdom searched and searched but they could not find the princess. For deep within the forest, in a hidden tower, Gothel raised the child as her own. Gothel had found her new magic flower, but this time, she was determined to keep it hidden.

We hear Gothel teling Rapunzel that “the outside world is a dangerous place, filled with horrible, selfish people,” and that she’s only safe there.

(P.S. So I don’t have to repeat the shot down in the “Motifs” section — “When You Wish Upon a Star” shot.)

“But the walls of that tower could not hide everything. Each year on her birthday, the king and queen released thousands of lanterns into the sky, in hope that one day their lost princess would return.

We then meet Rapunzel. She sings a song about all the stuff she does each day, wondering when her life “will begin.” My problem with this song is that the lyrics just aren’t good. I like how it takes the daily routine as, “Oh, this is fun,” and then, after a while, you realize, “Oh, this is actually really sad,” but for some reason, the way it’s written is just not interesting at all. Plus I’m not a fan of how Mandy Moore sang it.

Rapunzel works up the courage to ask Mother Gothel to leave the tower for her 18th birthday to go see the floating lights. Mother Gothel tells her no, and sings “Mother Knows Best,” telling her about all that horrible shit she’d encounter if she went out. She then tells Rapunzel she must never ask to leave the tower ever again.

We then cut to Flynn and the Stabbington Brothers, who have just robbed the palace and are being pursued in the forest by the royal guard. Flynn double crosses the Stabbingtons and makes off with the satchel that contains what they stole (Rapunzel’s tiara). He is pursued relentlessly by Maximus, one of the king’s horses, who has a mind of his own.

While hiding from Maximus, he finds the secret entrance to the hidden valley where Rapunzel’s tower is. He climbs inside it and is immediately knocked unconscious by Rapunzel with a frying pan. (Just like Clue.)

She then goes to hide the body.

And afterwards, when Mother Gothel comes back, Rapunzel tries to show her the body, but then Gothel screams like a crazy person and Rapunzel tries plan B (the other plan B. Not the birth control), and gets her out of the house for three days by saying she wants special paints for her birthday.

She then interrogates Flynn, and offers to give him back his satchel if he takes her to see the lights. He agrees.

Rapunzel then steps foot outside the tower for the first time, which is a nice moment. It would have felt better without the song during it (wait a minute, let the power of the moment handle the situation, then reprise the song), but it’s still nice.

She then goes through an amazing series of ups and downs, being excited about having gone outside, and then being wracked with guilt over it. It’s hilarious. This is the moment when I first saw the film that I said, “Wow, this is actually really, really good.”

Meanwhile, Maximus is tracking Flynn, and runs into Mother Gothel, who recognizes him as a palace horse and rushes back to Rapunzel when she realizes the rider of the horse is missing. Rapunzel naturally isn’t in the tower, and Mother Gothel finds the tiara. She then sets out to fuck up some bitches.

Flynn then tries to get out of the deal any way he can, and takes Rapunzel to a bar full of thieves and hoodlums and rapscallions. Rapunzel ends up winning them over and getting them to reveal their tender sides. They sing “I’ve Got a Dream,” which turns into a nice drinking song.

Mother Gothel shows up and witnesses this just as the palace guards show up, looking for Flynn. Though at that point, everyone wants to help them, so they sneak them out of there. But Maximus is hot on Flynn’s scent, and follows them into the tunnel.

This leads to a very exciting chase – kind of. It’s not much of a chase, but it is exciting, and Flynn has a sword fight with a horse.

Flynn and Rapunzel get trapped in a cave with water filling up. And then she apologizes for getting him into this and feels horrible, and he warms to her and tells her his real first name – you know how these scenes work. She reveals that he hair glows and they use it to find a way out.

She also shows him how her hair can heal people by healing his injured hand. And then they have that heart-to-heart with one another and fall in love – you know how that works.

Mother Gothel then shows up to take Rapunzel home. (Tell me that’s not a fucking scary image.) Rapunzel doesn’t want to, so Gothel gives her the tiara and says that its all he wants and when he gets it, he’ll leave her. She lies in wait with the Stabbington brothers.

The next morning, Maximus shows up to get Flynn, but Rapunzel uses her charm to win him over and gets him to agree to not chase Flynn until she sees the lanterns.

They arrive at the kingdom and Rapunzel and Flynn have a good time together. It’s a great montage with some spectacular music.

He then takes her out in a boat to see the lanterns, which is so beautiful I can’t even put it into words:

Their kiss is interrupted by Flynn spotting the Stabbington brothers on the shore. He goes to give them the crown, but they say they want her. They tie him up on a boat and make it look like he’s running away from her like Gothel said, and she “magically” shows up to rescue her. And Rapunzel thinks she was right all along, and that Flynn doesn’t care for her.

Meanwhile Flynn is captured by the palace guards and brought to be hanged.

And back home, Rapunzel realizes she is the princess. She brings it up to Gothel, who turns evil and ties her up.

Flynn, meanwhile, is broken out of jail by all the hooligans from the bar (Maximus went and got them). He and Maximus head to the tower to get Rapunzel.

Gothel then shanks him when he gets inside. Like, actually shanks him. It’s pretty great.

She then says she’s gonna take Rapunzel away to a place where they’ll never find her, and Rapunzel says she’ll fight to get away every second of every day unless Gothel agrees to let her save Flynn. If she does that, she says she’ll never try to escape.

She then goes to save him, and he won’t let her, saying if she does it, she’ll die. He then cuts off her hair to prevent her from healing him. All of her hair turns back to its natural brunette. Wait for it…

And now the carpet matches the drapes again.

Oh yeah! I just ruined a kids a movie!

Gothel then turns into Emperor Palpatine and falls out of the tower (because Disney villains have to fall from a height to die).


… just like Dumbledore.

Speaking of which – how much ass do you think Gothel was getting? She must have been, right? During her trips. You can’t call her a cougar – what do you call a couple-hundred year old woman fucking a twenty-something guy?

Anyway, Flynn then dies, which is pretty revolutionary for a Disney movie. Rarely does the hero die like that, even if they do bring him back a second later. Still – they usually do that thing where they slip off the cliff and make you think they could be dead, but you know they’re not, and it’s just the characters that think they might be dead. Here – this fucker is actually dead.

But you know, true love’s kiss and all that…

Apparently she has phoenix tears.

He then is brought back to life and they kiss and all that. (His first line afterwards is: “Did I ever tell you I have a think for brunettes?” which is nice and all, but if the first thing he said was, “It wasn’t the hair that was magic, it was you” – that’s the kind of shit that gets you laid every time.)

Then they go to the castle and Rapunzel is reunited with her parents. And there’s a final montage of them getting married and living happily ever after and all that good stuff.

God, look at that framing. Gorgeous.

Anyway — I love this movie. There are many different reasons — the dialogue is funny, and the timing on some of the gags is spot-on. The frying pan gag was hilarious, and stayed hilarious. Plus I love the animals with personalities. When they do that right — it always works. Pascal and Maximus — awesome. I don’t like some minor things about the film (nothing too major), and the songs aren’t good. But otherwise, this film is tremendous.

My favorite thing about the film is the character of Rapunzel. I love how they drew her up. I’m gonna put some shots down in the motifs of things I really liked, but just — in general — I really love how they drew up the character. I think there are very, very, very few things wrong with this film, and it definitely holds its own among almost anything else in the Disney catalogue. The main thing that’s keeping this out of the top 15 is the fact that it’s CG. I don’t like that. It’s impeccably crafted, but it’s Disney. Gotta hand-draw that shit.

Still though — best thing they’ve done in 15 years.

– – – – –

Official Disney Number: #50

Run Time: 100 minutes

Release Date: November 24, 2010

Budget: $260 million

Box Office: $200.8 million domestically, $590.7 million worldwide

– – – – –


  1. “When Will My Life Begin?” performed by Mandy Moore
  2. “Mother Knows Best,” performed by Donna Murphy
  3. “I’ve Got a Dream,” performed by Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Tambor, Mandy More and Zachary Levi
  4. “I See the Light,” performed by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi
  5. “Something That I Want,” performed by Grace Potter (end credits song)

– – – – –

Voice Cast:

Mandy Moore, as Rapunzel (Delaney Rose Stein, as Young Rapunzel)
Zachary Levi, as Flynn Rider
Donna Murphy, as Mother Gothel
Ron Perlman, as Stabbington Brother
M.C. Gainey, as Captain of the Guard
Jeffrey Tambor, as Big Nose Thug
Brad Garrett, as Hook Hand Thug
Paul F. Tompkins, as Short Thug
Richard Kiel, as Vlad

– – – – –


  • This film was nominated forBest Original Song for “I See the Light,” but lost to Toy Story 3 and “We Belong Together.” It was not nominated for Best Animated Feature because the Academy is stupid and fell for a movie about a fucking dragon instead. (Or because they only had three nominees that year. But I blame the dragon. That movie was hugely overrated. That’s right, I said it.)
  • This is Disney’s 50th animated feature.
  • The film spent six years in development, and that budget ($260 million) has to be the highest for an animated film ever. (Apparently it makes it the second most expensive movie of all time too.)
  • They named the film Tangled because they thought naming it after a princess would discourage young boys from coming to see it. (Jesus, with the focus groups. Maybe that’s why they included that opening narration, which I fucking hate. Making it all about Flynn. How dumb.)
  • Here’s something I like. I’m gonna post it as is: “Disney was criticized for altering the classic title as a marketing strategy. Floyd Norman, a former Disney and Pixar animator and story artist, said, “The idea of changing the title of a classic like Rapunzel to Tangled is beyond stupid. I’m convinced they’ll gain nothing from this except the public seeing Disney as desperately trying to find an audience.” Justin Chang of Variety compared it to changing the title of The Little Mermaid to “Beached.” Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle’s blog, Margot Magowan accused Disney of sexism, writing ‘Can you imagine if Disney…switched a movie title so it wouldn’t risk highlighting a male star? It’s awful that this kind of radical gender discrimination exists for our smallest people– little kids who come into this world with huge imaginations and aspirations, big dreams that get squashed by a bunch of billionaire guys who run massive entertainment franchises.’
  • Another one I like a lot and am posting as is: “According to production manager Doeri Welch Greiner, the original script was a quasi-sequel to Enchanted, and had Rapunzel turned into a squirrel and her place taken by a girl in the real world. Glen Keane eschewed in favour of a more fun and fantastical fairytale that Disney is famous for: ‘I think that’s what Disney needs to do right now. No one else can do it. We should not be embarrassed or make excuses for doing a fairytale.'” Fuck yeah, Glen Keane.
  • They did also — and I’ll give them a bit of a pass for this, even though, at the end of the day, it’s unacceptable — try to make the film look and feel like a traditional hand-drawn film even though it was in CG. They did accomplish that.
  • Apparently Pinocchio is hiding in the rafters of the Snuggly Duckling.
  • Apparently the lantern that Rapunzel lifts into the boat is the one her parents sent up. It’s the only one with the royal crest on it.
  • This film features the largest age gap between a couple — Flynn is 26 and Rapunzel is 18.
  • So far, eight animated Disney villains have fallen to their death. Though I count seven, since one of their listed ones is Charles Muntz from Up, which, even though Pixar is now part of Disney, I still consider them separate. But — the other seven (and only six of them are canon films) are the Queen in Snow White, Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective, McLeach (though do we actually know he’s dead?) in The Rescuers Down Under, Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, Frollo in Hunchback of Notre Dam and Queen Narcissa in Enchanted.

– – – – –

Disney Motifs:

1. Oh look — Peter Pan reference.

(Also, notice how this film deliberately doesn’t use the storybook opening? All part of their attempt to move away from the fairy tale stuff. Which feels like a mistake.)

2. Character on a wanted poster. They’ve been doing this lately. Like McLeach in Rescuers Down Under and Alameda Slim in Home on the Range. This is our first hero on a wanted poster. Though, I guess — Robin Hood. So, no, let’s just stick with the first part.

3. Look at the care taken in the colors. Oh — so beautiful.

4. Great visual. Her painting over the lens.

5. Ah, the classic princess shot — singing out of a window, and then staring longingly and thinking about her dreams out the window.

6. Similar shot to ones in Atlantis and Tarzan and also a moment that shows how great the Disney sound designs have been in recent years. I love the sound of the shingles as he slides down. Great job, sound department. You guys need to be shown more love.

7. Characters framed symmetrically by something else. Though here, the characters are in the foreground and the objects framing them are in the background.

8. I love when animals have personalities. It’s always funny. Them dropping out the soundtrack and all us hearing is him telling her to hit him with the frying pan — hilarious.

9. Sound of Music shot. Disney loves referencing that movie.

10. Again — animals with personalities. Plus, in this case, the horse with the personality has been done a lot by them. But — these shots — him pushing people aside, him punching Flynn in the stomach, and him and Flynn elbowing one another (which is always funny when two characters do that) — I love it. This makes him more of a developed character than a lot of other Disney characters.

11. Oh, my favorite — Rapunzel. These are two moments that really made me fall in love with her character. The way she gets really excited about things and bounces up and down reacting to them — watch these moments in the film. You can see how her body is moving in the shots, specifically the second one. That one moment (and the second one isn’t even something they point out. You have to be looking at her to notice it) is something — that’s something that makes me love a character. Just that. Only certain actresses in real life could pull off something like that (and do). But here — the moment she did that, I was totally sold on her. It’s amazing that they made her like that. That’s one of those things I go for every time.

12. Oh they’ll fucking cut you:

13. Look — character walking over a log/downed tree. Or in this case, a piece of wood. Different angle (and situation) than we’re used to, but still — you’ve seen it in Disney. A lot.

14. Just like Tarzan:

15. Characters framed by foliage. Classic Disney shot:

16. This is, in my opinion, the most heartbreaking shot in all of cinema: the moment when everyone but the one character knows something sad is going to happen. In this moment, Flynn knows he’s going to have to leave her, and we know he’s going to have to leave her, and we know that he’s going to get separated from her, and that Gothel has set this up to make it look like she was right and that he never cared about her, and that it’s going to break Rapunzel’s heart and make her go back with her clearly evil mother, which is the wrong thing to happen. And all of this, we know is going to happen, and we don’t want it to happen. And Flynn tells her he’s going to come back, even though he knows it’s not true, and she, with all the optimism in the world, believing wholeheartedly that he will come back, says, “I believe you,” that’s the most heartbreaking shot in all of cinema. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing that one person so optimistic and unaware being set up for certain despair. I don’t think there’s really anything more effective than it. (Maybe as effective, but not more.)


2 responses

  1. lulu

    I never really like this film. I find it to be completely overrated. The songs are very weak and the humor is very dry. The most recent disney princess film i really like was the princess and the frog. It had some flaws, but the characters in that one were really funny!

    March 15, 2014 at 12:31 am

  2. Chrissie

    I think I agree with everything you said about it except for the opening narration. I like that – to me it’s like a nice framing shot – something that draws the viewer in and tells them on what to focus their attention: Flynn’s going to be funny and the hero and tries to be suave, but this story isn’t his, so don’t follow his heart around in the plot.

    Well, I also liked the songs a little more than you did – I mean, they aren’t The Little Mermaid songs (which are the best) – but they have more heart than many, many others I can think of and I really, really like how they actually got a voice actor who can sing her own songs.

    With regards to the animals with personalities (the ROUS’s… no, wait… the AWP), this is the kind of AWP I like. I dislike when they take too much of the focus away from the main characters (I’m looking at you Cinderella), and I really dislike it when they talk and have their own side stories (still you, Cinderella). Personalities: Yes! Own storylines and dialogue when not completely relevant to the story: Boo!

    This movie reminded me how spectacular Disney can be when they stop effing around with their solid formula of what works.

    May 22, 2015 at 9:21 am

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