Friday, January 7, 2011

TANGLED (2010)

Oh, Disney! Go ahead and take over the world. You deserve to keep us under your beautiful, talented, magical thumb. How is it possible that the same corporation that is responsible for Miley Cyrus can come out with such a wonderful film? How can a company that encourages young girls to emulate a spoiled brat with serious entitlement issues dream up a movie that is so deeply empathetic of the fear and excitement of entering adulthood, and that complex battlefield of a relationship between parents and teenagers?

With The Princess and the Frog (2009) and now Tangled, fairy tales are no longer just idylls that happened "once upon a time" in a "far, far away land". Fairy tales were once cautionary tales for children. But kids today are such demanding snot rags that morals like "always be polite" and "kiss animals, because you never know" just don't cut it anymore. Tangled has all the magic and fantasy of traditional fairy tales, but is also relevant and accessible. Where Shrek (2001) was a tongue-in-cheek satire of fairy stories, Tangled is the re-invention. You actually relate to the characters.

A baby with golden hair is born to the king and queen of a kingdom, but the baby is stolen by a witch who knows that the child has magic hair which has the power to bestow eternal youth. She keeps the young princess, Rapunzel in a tower and brings her up as her own daughter. She constantly reminds Rapunzel that she is to always be in the tower because the world outside is a horrible and dangerous place. But after 18 years of being in the tower, Rapunzel's life is turned upside down when a roguish young thief accidentally tumbles into her tower.

Like all Disney offerings, it goes without saying that this movie was a visual treat (so don't miss the 3D version). I loved the effortless combination of adolescent angst into the original story. Yes, there is a hero. But he's a teenage boy. And like all teenage boys, he is completely convinced of his godlike visage, dreams only of pots of gold and blonde babes, is completely insensitive to emotional crises faced by teenage girls and is obviously utterly irresistible to those teenage girls. Another interesting take was the relationship between the witch and Rapunzel-- Rapunzel is not the traditional prisoner in this movie. She's a daughter. And like most teenage daughters, she loves and detests her mother. Like many mothers, the witch can be self-absorbed, cant resist from "jokingly" criticizing her daughter and knows very well that guilt is a stronger prison than iron bars.

Tangled brought back this wave of memories from my adolescence. Do you remember what it was like to sneakily disobey your parents for the first time? Oh, the weight of the guilt! But the temptation! Oh, but they would be so disappointed if they found out! Ah, but they don't need to find out! Argh, what do I DO! I went through that the first time I got drunk, first time I had a boyfriend and so many other first times. Even now, the indoctrination from my childhood masquerades as a conscience and prickles uncomfortably on certain occasions. I've just become adept at ignoring it and pouring myself another drink.

Where Toy Story 3 was about the pain and sadness of leaving childhood behind, Tangled is about that horrible fear and doubt of growing up. We cant wait to be all grown up and do the grown up things, but when it actually happens, you realize that adulthood is really just a series of nausea attacks.

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