Disney Marathon: ‘Tangled’

Ok, look…there’s a coronavirus out there. We can’t leave our homes. Of course we’re going to watch a movie about a girl who can’t leave her house in the land of Corona.

For those just joining us, this is a movie marathon with a twist. Myself (cranky 30s blogger), my son Josh (stoic 9 year old Nintendo obsessive) and my daughter Amelia (drama llama 7 year old princess wannabe) are watching Disney movies in a random order and ranking them. We hope to see interesting differences in how we organise our lists.

Film: Tangled

Released: 2010

Director: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard

Cast: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Brad Garrett, Ron Pearlman, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Kiel, M.C. Gainey, Paul F. Tompkins

Plot: Unknown to Rapunzel, she was kidnapped as a baby by the woman claiming to be her mother, Gothel, who wanted Rapunzel’s magical hair to kept her young. When opportunity arrives in the form of outlaw Flynn Rider, Rapunzel gives in to her desire to see the world.

Review: I really didn’t go out of my way to see this movie when it was released. In actual fact, I don’t think I’d seen it in its entirety until just now. What put me off it initially was, ironically, the marketing material. The initial teaser trailer is mostly made up of sequences that don’t appear in the film, putting a focus on slapstick action and comedy backed by a pop-rock soundtrack. It looked like a Dreamworks movie. This was intentional, as Dreamworks was dominating the box-office at the time and it was obviously making Disney nervous, and they’d forgotten what happened the last time they tried to emulate this particular rival: Chicken Little. Between the trailer and casting stars that would appeal to tween audiences, it seemed that they really wanted us to think this was a Dreamworks movie.

Here, look at the trailer for yourselves.

Fortunately it wasn’t forgettable slop, unlike the bulk of the Dreamworks canon. It’s a Disney fairy tale with enough self-awareness to have fun with the formula without being obnoxious. There’s a strong focus on character, but a splash of cartoon logic to keep up a quick pace and some highly successful comedic moments built through the narrative and not through pop-culture references. If it wasn’t for the marketing, this could be seen as Disney taking Dreamworks to school.

Rapunzel (Moore) has spent her entire life in a single room at the top of a tower, with the only way in or out seemingly being by climbing up Rapunzel’s mind-bogglingly long hair. Mother Gothel (Murphy) visits her everyday to make use of her magical hair and regain her youth and to remind Rapunzel of the dangers the outside world contains. Rapunzel, meanwhile, remains curious about the lanterns that float above the kingdom on her birthdays and yearns to see them close up. What makes Mother Gothel such an insidious villain is that she’s spent Rapunzel’s entire life presenting herself as a loving mother figure while spinning lies about the world at large to keep her imprisoned as much in her own head as the tower.

Gothel stands out as the first Disney cartoon villain to be outright gaslighting their victim. She instills fear in Rapunzel, then utilises guilt when questioned before reaffirming that only she loves and cares for her. The so-called ‘Mother’ Gothel is such a prime example of effective gaslighting that there’s a section of the fandom who are essentially Gothel apologists, arguing that for all her faults she does love Rapunzel and does want to keep her safe. I’d counter argue that Gothel only does this in order to meet her own agenda AND point out that Gothel only kisses Rapunzel on the top of her head…in other words, her HAIR.

She is every abusive relationship you’ve ever seen.

What disrupts this idyllic(?) situation is bandit Flynn Rider (Levi). Slick, funny, talented and with an inflated ego, Rider has just pilfered the royal crown is on the run from the guards and his allies who has just betrayed. In particular he’s being hunted by Maximus, the horse of the head of the royal guard who is especially dedicated to his job. Flynn takes refuge in Rapunzel’s tower and comes to an agreement with her…she’ll let him escape with the crown after he helps her escape and see the lanterns. Although he initially tries to scare Rapunzel back to her tower, he warms to her optimistic outlook and strong heart and eventually falls for her.

Before they get to the lanterns, however, they’ll have to evade an obsessed horse, the manipulative Mother Gothel, a pair of blood-thirsty thieves looking for revenge and the royal guard. The pair wind up in a series of misadventure’s solved with cartoon ingenuity, frying pans and musical numbers. As mentioned before, much of the comedy comes from subverting audience expectations. This is at it’s peak with Flynn takes Rapunzel to a tavern full of mercenaries in order to frighten her, only for Rapunzel to get them all singing about their dreams.

For all we like the characters and the comedy, the movie gets to the third act without a clear idea of what it wants to do. They need to resolve the conflict with Maximus, resolve the conflict with the Stabbington Brother’s (Pearlman) and have Rapunzel learn the truth about her royal birthright while delivering a karmic revenge to Mother Gothel. It all ends up in a jumble with a couple of deus ex machinas before wrapping things up.

Although there’s a stumble at the end, this is one of the most fun Disney Princess films of recent years. It’s got a couple of good musical numbers (and a couple of forgettable ones), some funny escapades and characters who feel unique. Rapunzel is naive but a multi-skilled artist whilst Flynn is a cocky bandit revealed to be an orphaned boy living vicariously through impersonating his favourite literary character. It’s well worth a family movie night.

Best Song: ‘I’ve Got a Dream’ is consistently entertaining no matter how many times I hear it.

Coolest Easter Egg: So Rapunzel is a collector of Disney merchandise. The Sleeping Beauty spinning wheel is an easy one to spot, but also look for an apple, books and murals referencing previous films, a slipper, a seashell and more. Once you’re done there, look for Pinnochio, Pumbaa and Louis (Princess and the Frog) in the tavern of ruffians.

Rating: NINE out of TEN



I ranked this one pretty high. It’s got great animation and writing and it shows why Disney shouldn’t try to emulate its rivals, but show them why they wear the crown.

You can click on those titles below if you want to see what we said about those films.

  1. Robin Hood
  2. Aladdin
  3. Big Hero 6
  4. Tangled
  5. The Sword in the Stone
  6. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  7. Emperor’s New Groove
  8. Fantasia
  9. The Princess and the Frog
  10. The Aristocats
  11. A Goofy Movie
  12. Treasure Planet
  13. Chicken Little


Amelia but up strong resistance to watching this, feeling that she’d gotten tired of it through repeated rewatches at a younger age. After being bribed with waffles, she rediscovered why she loved it to begin with. Still didn’t bump those whacky films, surprisingly enough.

  1. Emperor’s New Groove
  2. A Goofy Movie
  3. Tangled
  4. The Princess and the Frog
  5. Robin Hood
  6. The Aristocats
  7. The Sword in the Stone
  8. Aladdin
  9. Treasure Planet
  10. Big Hero 6
  11. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  12. Chicken Little
  13. Fantasia


Joshua didn’t have any objection to this film, but the clear focus on a younger, female audience left him a tad detached from the experience. Those swashbuckling adventures are a clear win for Josh.

  1. Big Hero 6
  2. Aladdin
  3. Emperor’s New Groove
  4. Treasure Planet
  5. The Princess and the Frog
  6. Robin Hood
  7. The Sword in the Stone
  8. Tangled
  9. A Goofy Movie
  10. The Aristocats
  11. Fantasia
  12. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  13. Chicken Little

Next up…something very different. We’ve just watched a much older, somewhat obscure film with some interesting history behind it.