Tangled (2010) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl
We have walked out of few movies in our career, and even fewer in the last year: Crazyheart and, now, Tangled. Walking out of a movie begins as an idea, a sort of bargain with the self: if this movie doesn’t move/arrest/delight/interest in ten, or fifteen, or twenty minutes, that’s it. Our eight bucks deserves better. However, once having struck that bargain, the tang of it flavors the entire experience. Pretty soon you are testing the movie, asking it to prove itself in ways many a movie often cannot—perhaps especially, those featuring animated girl-children with massive swathes of creaturely hair. We wish we could say Rapunzel’s hair was the real star of Tangled, and yet we cannot know for certain, having given the movie a mere fifteen minutes of our time (we gave Crazyheart a good 45 and were none the happier).
Why did we bolt? Everything was there in Disney order. A few clever updates even promisingly peaked their adorable, wry little heads from the charmingly askew tower of Rapunzel’s, and our own, captivity. The wicked step-mother performed a mild take on the current monomaniacal parenting trends in which children exist as affirmation of mommy’s intelligence/beauty/sacrifice; Rapunzel herself seemed to poke a gentle Disney-endorsed fun at Type-A girls whose endless ability for self-projection, goodness, crafting, and anorexia has helped build their empire. And yet, there was nothing witty enough, nothing knowing enough, nothing even all that pleasurable enough to keep us in our seats. The Disney eyes, once you’re past age 12, look insipidly menacing, or like huge vats of blasé infinity. Once our popcorn ran out and the Barq’s went dry there seemed little reason to stay in our seats. Maybe it was the thought we’d thought too early, almost upon purchase of the tickets—the “if this movie doesn’t…” thought. But by failing to see that incipient thought forming in the heads of movie-goers just like ourselves, desperate ones who’ve seen all the grown-up movies already, by neglecting to act on its own nearly endless supply of tropes in a convincingly heart-felt and ironic way, Disney has done itself a great disservice. Disney has done us a great disservice. Fifteen minutes of our Sunday plus previews.