Rated: PG for brief mild violence
Length: 100 min.
Age: 5 and up. Commonsense Media sez: 5 +
Scary Factor: not overly scary, mostly just suspenseful chase scenes; scary-looking thugs in tavern are revealed to be sweethearts; Rapunzel is briefly menaced near the end by villains
Violence: Rapunzel repeatedly knocks Flynn unconscious with a frying pan for comedic effect; Mother Gothel stabs Flynn at the end; Mother Gothel falls to her death – though she disappears before she hits the ground, aged right out of existence
Intense: it appears as though Flynn dies in a very sad scene at the end, but he revives; psychological abuse Mother Gothel inflicts on Rapunzel may trouble some
Bad Behaviour: no bad language; there is beer in the tavern, but this is underplayed
Interests: princesses, fairy tales, magic, romance, horses, action, chases
The baby princess with magical healing hair is kidnapped by an evil old woman, “Mother” Gothel, who uses the magic in her hair to keep herself young and beautiful. To this end she keeps Rapunzel locked up in a tower. An escaping thief (Flynn) climbs the tower to escape capture and Rapunzel enlists his help in escaping. Mother Gothel follows and sells Flynn out to a couple of his former accomplices, in order to bring Rapunzel back to the tower. Rapunzel, however, suddenly realizes that she is the long-lost princess and Gothel is not her real mother at all. Flynn escapes a hanging and comes to her rescue, only to be stabbed by Mother Gothel. In a final showdown (spoiler here), Flynn cuts Rapunzel’s hair and Gothel dies from instant aging, falling out the window as she goes. Flynn appears to die but one of Rapunzel’s tears still holds enough magic to revive him. Happily ever after stuff ensues.
A very fast-paced, action-filled and smart adaptation of the fairy tale, dropping the more gruesome and depressing elements (like the hero falling from the tower into thorns and having his eyes poked out, and the heroine wandering a wasteland with her two babies for countless years before she gets her happy ending). And in case you were wondering, the movie’s title – Tangled rather than Rapunzel – is part of a marketing attempt to appeal to boys as well as girls. The advertising plays up the Flynn character and the action aspect of the film. (Apparently the entire girl population of North America – and beyond – isn’t a big enough audience share for Disney here.)
Despite the PG rating, the violence levels are not any worse than many other G-rated Disney flicks… I thought Beauty and the Beast was more violent, but perhaps rating standards have shifted since it was made. There’s a fair amount of slapstick falling around on the part of Flynn and others, and Rapunzel cracks him on the head with a frying pan more times than is probably needed – all for “comedic effect”. At the end Mother Gothel stabs Flynn, although this is not depicted graphically at all, it happens offscreen, and there isn’t a load of blood.
I found the psychologically abusive relationship between Mother Gothel and Rapunzel more troubling than the violence. The mere idea of someone who says she’s your mother and claims daily that she loves you, in-between belittling comments and fear-inducing lies, as she holds you captive… well, some young children may find this particular brand of duplicity rather disturbing – I wouldn’t show it to anyone younger than about 5. (See the song: “Mother Knows Best”. Very creepy!)
The story partially plays out as a tale of teenage rebellion, and perhaps the themes are more appropriate for this slightly older demographic. (Especially the manic-depressive teen angst that Rapunzel goes through when debating whether or not to disobey Mother.) Certainly the dialogue and action move along so quickly it can be hard for little ones to follow. The goal of appealing to everyone once again means that the comprehension of the younger ones is sacrificed to keep the older kids hooked on the frenetic action and smartassed dialogue.
That said, Tangled is still an appealing film. Certainly closer to the fairy tale tradition than The Princess and the Frog. And Rapunzel saves Flynn’s neck more often than the other way around. Rapunzel is likeable, determined, and not afraid to take action. Thankfully her proportions are a little more teen-like, not so buxom and curvaceous, though she is still ridiculously slim. She’s weirdly infantilized too, with huge ‘baby animal eyes’. (They made me think of those weird ‘sad clown’ paintings.)
One reason to shout hallelujah though: animal sidekicks who DON’T TALK! Both chameleon Pascal and palace guard horse Maximus communicate via expressions and gestures rather than smart talk. Maximus also provides some of the best and funniest animation in the film.
In conclusion: Action packed, funny princess tale moves along at a bewildering speed. Not overly scary or violent but full of thrills, chills and spills. Designed to entertain boys as well as girls, this film features a proactive princess taking her future in her own hands… all while experiencing very human doubts and fears.