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Film Club: ‘Tangled’

If Only the Horse Were the Star

The horse is the best thing in the Disney animated fairy tale

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Above: The horse is the best thing in the Disney animated fairy tale "Tangled."


The critics of the KPBS Film Club of the Air weigh in on the new Disney animated film, "Tangled."


Disney's 3-D animation "Tangled" (currently in San Diego Theaters) retells the fairy tale of "Rapunzel." Listen to our KPBS Film Club of the Air discussion.

"Tangled" is one of the better Disney films of recent years and it is one of the better animated films in this very weak year for animation. That said, the only thing about the film that I really enjoyed is the horse. Disney after about 1960 has not stirred much affection in me. One of my biggest complaints is the insistence on including annoying Broadway show-style songs that seem only inserted to nab Oscar nominations and allow me the chance to run to the bathroom or snackbar. Unlike Japanese anime, Disney animation is squarely aimed at the kiddies and is only pushing the envelope in terms of technology.

"Tangled" is a cute and likable film, and it offers some of the most enjoyable 3D since "Coraline." This is not the gimmicky, pointing things in your face animation but rather some beautifully rendered 3D that envelopes you in another world. The technology on display is impressive but I wish the filmmaking and storytelling were more innovative. "Tangled" serves up a fairly typical spunky princess, roguish and dashing male romantic interest, and adorable animals that we have come to expect from Disney. There are some contemporary tweaks to the formula elements but nothing remotely surprising. But I would probably watch the film again just to see the amazing horse and delightful chameleon. Happily, these animals do not speak but are so amazingly expressive that I couldn't help but fall in love with them.

"Tangled" (rated PG for brief mild violence) is perfect family fare and is sure to delight Disney fans. Listen to our discussion of the film.

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Moving on now to a very different type of movie. A designee movie called tangled. Tangled is the story of Rapunzel, a young girl locked in a tower by an evil witch. She has long golden locks so people can climb up her hair to visit. This Disney version takes liberties with the brothers grim for, but it is the first traditional fairy tale released by Disney studios [CHECK AUDIO] to let the witch who she thinks is her mother, climb up and see her. Here it is.


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And that's a clip from the movie tangled and upper woo just talking about trying to figure out if this indeed was it is first classic fairy tale since 1991's Beauty and the Beast. And indeed it was. Princess and the Frog, a fairy tale, but kind of a modern version of a fairy tale. Scott, what do you think about this movie?

SCOTT MARKS (film critic for I thought they got a great story. I went to see a screening of it at the AMC La Jolla, packed house. Ten minutes into the film, the synch goes off, where someone hits someone in the head with a pan where you hear donk twenty seconds later. And then the 3D goes off. And this is packed with kids. So as it turns out, and I didn't know that this was possible, the hard drive had so many films on it, that it couldn't accommodate another one and it kept fritzing out. Now, this never happens with film. This would not happen with 35-millimeter. They clear the theatre out, sent everybody home. These people were monsters. Some woman walk in a 7:05 with three kids and says, yes, I'd like four together. Oh, mezzanine or loges? 7:05, you've got a if nerve on you, lady. So they sent everybody home. The door opens to the booth, hey, I fixed the be problem. Really? Don't you need to do a test run, and oh, yes, we do. So I was a rest run. And it was Nirvana. This is a great movie. This is the best Disney film I've seen in ages. The 3D, if you're old enough to remember viewmasters, it's like watching a viewmaster for 90 minutes. No sexism, you have a strong male character. Disney just said something like they're not gonna do anymore fairy tales. That this is their last one, because princess in the frog was geared for young girls and it didn't do the business, it didn't perform the way they wanted it to. Here they have a smart-Alecy kind of male character goes up against things: And it was 3D, and I'm saying, we're gonna get the hair in our face, right in it's astounding and when you see all the bags, films of light floating around issue here's a -- the space between the characters really becomes a narrative tool. I can't wait to see this thing again. I just thought it was dazzling.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Fabulous. Beth, Anders, I want to get your take on it. Beth, first, did you like tangled?

BETH ACCOMANDO: It was okay. I'm sorry, but why do they insist on putting these stupid songs in these movies? It just kills it!

SCOTT MARKS: Because it wouldn't be a Disney film about crappy songs!

BETH ACCOMANDO: What kid likes them? It's like when they go to the bathroom, the songs. They like the songs?

ANDERS WRIGHT (film critic for City Beat): Yeah. Absolutely.

SCOTT MARKS: A whole new world and Hakuna Matata.

BETH ACCOMANDO: I'm sorry, every time Disney had a song, I'd have to take my kid to the bathroom 'cause he'd get all squirmy.

ANDERS WRIGHT: I'm with Scott on this one. I thought it was great. It felt like a throwback but with a 3D feel.

SCOTT MARKS: And you didn't like the fact that the girl was bipolar?

ANDERS WRIGHT: She' not bipolar, folks.

SCOTT MARKS: Oh, she's not? You didn't get that impression?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, okay, so the music didn't work for you, Beth, but --

BETH ACCOMANDO: I love the horse.

ANDERS WRIGHT: Great horse. And none of the animals talk.

SCOTT MARKS: It's all done with their faces. All the expressions are done with their faces.

ANDERS WRIGHT: The two main character have every one of their scenes stolen by the horse, who is the most memorable character in the film and has no lines, and there's no one voicing him.

SCOTT MARKS: What is this? A newt or lizard?

BETH ACCOMANDO: Chameleon, changing colors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What kind of animation is this? Is this Disney's first CGI?

ANDERS WRIGHT: No, it's not. They made Bolt a few years ago. That was the first one. But bot Bolt and this one -- now, John Lasseter who runs Pixar, his fingerprints are all over this, but it isn't like a Pixar film. You sort of feel like it's got the Pixar -- the Pixar magic, if you will, but it's absolutely a Disney film.

SCOTT MARKS: And look at the guy's hand. I mean, it looks like a real human being's hand. They've gotten to the point that this animation is so sequencing.

BETH ACCOMANDO: Yeah, but you're talking about in these other films putting technology before story, that's what I felt with this, it's like wow the animation and the 3D looks amazing but it's the same lame kind of kids' animation story telling.

SCOTT MARKS: But I saw the 3D as part of the narrative tool of so I agree with that. This isn't Jackass, hey, let's throw stuff if your face.

BETH ACCOMANDO: No no no. It didn't do that. But I felt like these were the same kinds of Disney characters that we've been seeing for decades.


SCOTT MARKS: Where's the sexist girl, that's not in here. And a male lead in a Disney film with a sense of humor? Not since Aladdin. [CHECK AUDIO].

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Where do you think tangled lines up with some of Disney's hits, Disney's best.

BETH ACCOMANDO: I haven't liked a Disney film since sword in the stone, I have to say.

SCOTT MARKS: You cannot like the little mermaid.

BETH ACCOMANDO: No, I'm sorry, I'm evil. [CHECK AUDIO] no, because those -- since about sword in the stone, most Disney films just grate on me. I'm sorry, I can't stand sitting through them. The musical numbers are one of the key things that drive me up the walls and I find them insulting to watch. I find them condescending and insulting.

SCOTT MARKS: Normally I'll agree. What was insulting in this one?

BETH ACCOMANDO: I don't see that this is, like, some feminist advance of the female character.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Obviously, you just don't like these movies. Let me ask you, Anders, where you think this stacks up with some of Disney's hits over the last few years?

SCOTT MARKS: Don't say stacked up. It's sexist.

ANDERS WRIGHT: I really enjoyed this. And I feel like it's been better than a lot of things they've done recently. I also think that, you know, what's happened since Beauty and the Beast, the market's become glutted with animated films, and is did no's, if you want to call it market share, has drop the 67 people just -- there's so much more out there, and Disney films don't hold the same sort of cache that they just did. But I felt like this was sort of back to that kind of Disney -- that kind of like, ordinary care, wonderful Disney film experience. That you haven't had in ages. Or that I haven't had in ages.

SCOTT MARKS: Disney water in 3D, it's like a sacred secret, they will never tell people how they do it. And [CHECK AUDIO].

ANDERS WRIGHT: The other thing they did well, you know they cast Mandy Moore as Rapunzel and she's funnier than she's ever been and just voicing. But she can sing too, and she brings I think sort of a much more contemporary flavor to the songs which Beth hates.

BETH ACCOMANDO: But the songs sound like they're from some lame 1950s musical.

ANDERS WRIGHT: I actually disagree entirely. [CHECK AUDIO].

BETH ACCOMANDO: And I think --

ANDERS WRIGHT: I don't like American idol either but let's remember. The kids these days, that's how they listen it music. That's sort of how it comes together.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to take a break, but I just want to savor this moment because Scott Marks is loving a lyrical, family friendly film. It's a moment to remember.

SCOTT MARKS: You know, prior to 1968, everything was made without a rating. So you could take the family to all of them. This is a great piece. It's not the best film since little mermaid. What was the one with the horse? There was another horse and we talked about it on the show.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Think about it during the break. We have to take a break, and when we return, we will talk more about movies, this is the KPBS film club of the air. You're listening to These Days on KPBS.

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