Saturday, January 01, 2011

I Saw "Tangled" (And You Should Too)

Like it says up there:  I saw Tangled.  Disney movie.  Got a princess in it.  Handsome dude.  Horse.  You know.
PICTURED: Not The Horse.
Like it also says, you should see it, too.  Okay, maybe not should, 'cause it's not life-or-death, but definitely could do much worse than to see it, too.  Reasons, you want?  I got 'em.

THE LONG MADE SHORT:  It's fun.  Genuinely so, at that.  It's a very entertaining film that breaks the Disney mold in places, and, to my mind, that needs to be rewarded.  Vote with your wallets, folks.  THIS COMES FROM SOMEONE WHO, TRADITIONALLY, GIVES DISNEY THE STINK-EYE.  (More on that later.)

MORE INFO THAN THAT:  Listen, did you hear about how Disney was going to title the film Rapunzel, but switched marketing tactics and tried aiming it more at boys and parents instead of just at girls?  It's true; The Princess And The Frog pleased critics but wasn't a big box office performer, so someone at Disney said -- "Well, hell, cousin, let's make movies for girls AND boys!  Get more butts inna seats!"

IT WORKED. The movie is fun even for a cranky-butt like me.'s making money. 

Money, as you know, talks.  In this case, the money that you spend going to see this movie (besides snagging you a better time at the movies than TRON: Legacy was), says something to Disney.  It says, "Break that mold.  Push a little bit.  Cast the net wider.  You can appeal to a wider audience if you take that risk."

It also says, "John Lasseter has the right damn job."

Oh, you know who John Lasseter is.  Pixar, right?  The dude whose Wikipedia entry says he is

[A]n American animator, director and the chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He is also currently the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering.

Chief creative officer.  Calling the shots, in other words.  Ever watch an interview with him?  I have.  Guy loves animation.  He is an artist first, businessman second.  He wants to take animation places, and bring you along for the ride.

American animation needs him. 

I have bitched about the state of animation before.  I have also looked down my nose at Disney's output for a long time -- perhaps unfairly, I generally equate "Disney" with "mediocre", if not in terms of technical ability but in terms of content.  A few exceptions (Atlantis, Treasure Planet, The Black Cauldron, Fantasia) aside, their stuff makes me go ho-hum.  Well, the dragon in Sleeping Beauty was pretty swank, but for every bad-ass black dragon and magic sword combo, you get about a dozen sappy song/cute animal friend salads.  Maybe the movies are better than that, but they certainly haven't attracted me.  But they've attracted a lot of other people, and, in a sense, contributed to this notion that animated movies are for kids or, worse, just for little girls.  I have a little girl; I'm all for animation for little girls*.  I'm not for the idea that animation is just for a given section of the population. 

I am definitely pro-animation-for-girls-with-Melee-(Frying Pan)-5D.

So all of a sudden, here's Disney -- in my mind, the worst offender because of what they could but wouldn't -- suddenly switching gears, and casting the net a little wider. 

Yesssss.  Fingertips steepled, hunched over my desk.  Yesssssssss...!

It's not Heavy Metal.  It's not even Titan A.E. or Sinbad - Legend of the Seven Seas.  But it is most people's synonym for animation, Disney, taking a chance.  Taking a chance and succeeding, by making a movie that truly has stuff for the whole family -- I don't just mean that it's family-friendly, in that there is nothing objectionable (which there isn't), but rather by making a movie with something everyone in a family can enjoy.  A movie with a heroine that'll inspire little girls without being sappy, a hero young boys will want to pretend to be, a pair of villains you'll want as NPCs in your D&D game...

The Stabbington Twins, voiced by Ron Perlman: Fighting-Men, lvl. 4.  You're welcome.

...a movie with gorgeous art direction, smooth animation and truly beautiful lighting; a movie where some of the best comedy business is delivered by a perpetually-drunken dwarf in a diaper.

Yes.  You read that right.  Dwarf.  Drunk.  Diaper. 

In a Disney movie.


"For kids".

Go see it.  Tell that damn mouse to keep up the good work.

*(My little girl prefers Batman Beyond and Rocky & Bullwinkle, though.)