Thursday, November 25, 2010

Animated Reviews: Tangled

'Tangled' left me feeling like I was watching an olympic class swimmer holding onto the edge of the pool because he's scared of venturing out into the deep end.

I really enjoyed this movie, really enjoyed it--except for the the song-and-dance numbers. They seemed too forced and just didn't fit the mood of the film. Everything else was spectacular--story, voice acting, animation, sets, character design, everything! Like 'Princess and the Frog,' when Disney stuck to the story, I was hooked! However, as soon as someone started singing and dancing, I was bored out of my skull.

I hope Disney makes money with 'Tangled' and I hope they make more films, but I really hope that they return to my personal favorite period of time in their cinematic history: when they broke out of the "Disney mold" and made films like 'Atlantis,' 'Emperor's New Groove,' and 'Lilo & Stitch.'

One thing worth mentioning, something that I don't think is coming through clearly in my review, is that I'm not anti-musical. There's definitely a place for the 'Rogers and Hammerstein' animation--Disney has already proven that (which, for me, started with the 'Little Mermaid' since I don't remember seeing the pre-80's Disney films in the theatre). But just like comedy, song and dance numbers are difficult to pull off well--as anyone who has watched 'Anastasia' and 'the Swan Princess' can attest to. Both were cute films with relatively engaging stories, but the song and dance numbers either didn't seem to fit or lacked a certain spark.

The only song number in 'Tangled' that I thought was seamless was when Flynn and Rapunzel are sitting in the boat right at the time of the lanterns being launched. And I didn't have a problem with the dance scene in the marketplace (don't remember if anyone was singing during that dance number). All the other song-and-dance numbers felt jarring. Honestly, it felt like there was someone in development with a stopwatch, counting time between scenes with dialogue and scenes with story progression who was just waiting to say "okay, we've  hit the five-minute marker. The quota for non-singing dialogue has been met, it's time to throw in a dance number." I felt the exact same way with 'Frog Princess' but didn't think much of it at the time due to the fact that I don't like Jazz. It wasn't until I saw 'Tangled' and had the exact same problem while watching the film that I realized there was a marked difference between Disney's older films and their current efforts. And I'm not exactly sure where the transition starts since I haven't seen 'Brother Bear' or 'Home on the Range'. As this transitioning issue is rather difficult to articulate at the moment, when 'Tangled' comes out on DVD (and I add it to my collection), I think I'll do a side-by-side comparison with 'the Little Mermaid' to see if I can pinpoint exactly what is bothering me about the recent Disney musicals as compared to their older films.