Friday, November 26, 2010
Editor's note: Darn it, I thought of a much better title for yesterday's post: "What a Rapunzeled web we weave." That would have been funny.
I must say, I've lost my way with animated movies in recent years.
For a couple years now, I've been involved in a crisis of faith about whether animated movies still do anything for me. And because the target audience for these movies is children, it's been difficult for me to decide whether it's the child inside me that's dying, or if the movies are just not as good as they used to be.
This is not to say that no animated movies touch my heart or my sense of awesomeness anymore. Instead, it's that they don't touch my heart/awesomeness as much as I feel they should, or as much as they touch other people. Even when ranking the two animated movies I had seen previously this year -- Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon, which both received extensive critical praise -- I felt like I was artificially inflating them because of how much I was supposed to like them, not how much I actually liked them. To be sure, Toy Story 3 is a great film, but I didn't consider it in the same category as Toy Story and Toy Story 2. This seemed to support the idea that it's me that's gotten more jaded, since the movie is not recognizably inferior in any way, shape or form, and may have even touched some viewers like the other two did not. As for How to Train Your Dragon -- well, terrific visuals, but a pretty stale story if you ask me.
I wouldn't usually write about the same movie two days in a row on my blog, but after seeing Tangled, I knew I needed to go about correcting any misconceptions I may have promoted, as soon as humanly possible. I even considered doing something I've never done on this blog -- writing two posts in one day.
That's how I felt after leaving the theater yesterday.
Quite simply, Tangled was one of the best animated movies I've ever seen. "Ever." That's a strong word, but it applies here.
My thoughts are not formed enough to give you a proper review. It's still swimming around in my head as a dizzy soup of images and moments. But let's just say this: It literally has something for everyone. Want a movie about princesses? You got it. Want a movie about a rakish thief? You got that too. Want terrific non-human characters as sidekicks? Pascal the chameleon and Maximus the horse are two of the most fun Disney has ever produced. Want tender moments? You've got them. Want hilarious comedy? There was one line in the middle that left me laughing for 15 seconds, and then a couple bursts of laughter in the ensuing minutes just replaying the line in my head. Want dazzling visuals like none you've ever seen before, with the kind of detail, depth and imagination befitting of a fairytale? Step right this way.
Tangled is so good that it might be better than all but the top few Pixar movies. It's so good that it might be better than all but the top few fairytale movies, including live action and animation. And it's also one of the most vivid 3D experiences I've ever had in the theater.
I don't want to overhype Tangled. But sometimes, excess hype is necessary if you want to overcome someone's doubts. And I think there will be a lot of doubts out there about Tangled. There will be a lot of people who think as I did in yesterday's post, who deride Disney for lacking the courage of its convictions in choosing the title for this film. Well, if the title Tangled gets one more person in the theater than the title Rapunzel would have, it's worth it, because that's one more person who will discover this spectacular romantic adventure.
But the biggest thrill I got from Tangled was that it transported me like an animated movie hasn't done in years. It whisked me away into that world and reminded me that I do have a kid still inside of me. It just takes the right story and script and vision to come and wake him up.
Tangled is the right everything, and it's one of the best movies of the year. On Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks to Disney for getting it just right, and reminding me of the endless possibilities of theatrical animation.