Tangled: The Seven Standards of Disney

In 2010, Walt Disney Animated Studios released their fiftieth animated feature within the animated canon and the tenth Disney princess. Tangled hit the theaters and made loads of money for the studios. Tangled spent six years in production, a step up from the renaissance era which sometimes made movies just a year apart. Tangled is the adaptation of Rapunzel, and tells the story of a lost princess who is being hoarded by a greedy woman named Gothel due to her golden hair possessing youthful properties. Rapunzel learns to trust the wanted thief Flynn Rider who guides her to the Kingdom so she may satisfy her curiosity towards the floating lights she sees every day.

Since Snow White, Disney has held itself up to seven different standards, aspects if you will, that set them apart from the typical movies made in Hollywood. These standards will be the ones to judge whether a Disney movie is truly deserving of the hype it gets, particularly in this day and age. These days, all Disney has to do is market the movie, people will watch it, they will advertise and market the positive reactions and it will generally be seen as a success, any failures be damned. This is why holding it critically to its usual standards it held to in the past is important.

There are seven standards Disney must hold itself to: Origin/storyline, Disney Princess, Disney Relationship, Disney Villain, Disney Music, Disney Settings and the Side characters that add color to the story. Does Tangled hold itself up to those same standards, particularly being among the most expensive films Disney made?


Illustrated by Johnny Gruelle
Illustrated by Johnny Gruelle

Tangled is based off the fairy tale by Brothers Grimm called Rapunzel. In fact, Rapunzel was the movie’s original name before it was changed to appeal to a more widespread audience besides girls. Tangled did a very different spin on the original material than most Disney films. The original story starts out with an pregnant woman who longs for a plant. The man steals it from a garden belonging to a witch named who proceeds to take the child away at birth. The child grows her hair long and golden and is locked away in a tower with no means of escape but a single window from which she lets her hair down for the witch to climb up upon the utterance of the words ‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so I may climb the golden stair.’

One day, a Prince happens by and hears the words. He yells those same words and Rapunzel, thinking it is the witch, lets her hair down only for her to meet the Prince. They agree to marry and the Prince and she make a plan to facilitate her escape. However, she gives him away by accident one day by indicating her own pregnancy and the witch casts Rapunzel out to fend for herself after cutting her hair off. When the Prince comes, the witch lets the hair down, draws him up, and pushes him off the tower where he goes blind from the thorns below. The Prince wanders for a long time until he hears familiar singing. He meets Rapunzel and the twins she gave birth to. They are reunited and upon kissing, his sight is restored. He takes her and the children away to live with him in his Kingdom and they live happy ever after, as is the ending for most fairy tales.

Tangled took some liberties as Disney usually does. They kept the concept of the flower but gave it powers of youth by a single drop of sunshine from the heavens. Gothel hoards the flower and when it is taken to heal the ailing Queen, Gothel kidnaps the child who inherits the sunshine, hence why her hair is golden. Rapunzel stays locked in a tower, eating the lies Gothel tells her about how the world is cruel and dangerous. Meanwhile, the Kingdom lets up lights in hopes that the Lost Princess would return one day, each year on her birthday. Rapunzel notices this, and feeling that the lights are meant for her, wants to go outside desperately.

A wanted thief Flynn Rider, (not a Prince) happens upon the tower by climbing it when he is being chased by guards after stealing a tiara. Rapunzel enlists his aid when Gothel is out and they escape from the tower, journey to the Kingdom where Rapunzel enjoys the lightshow from up close, and after a climax against Mother Gothel they live in the Kingdom, she is reunited with her parents and they live happily ever after.

Disney Princess

"She has to be someone who is charming, sweet, dynamic, and really…daring." (Co-director Byron Howard.)
“She has to be someone who is charming, sweet, dynamic, and really…daring.” (Co-director Byron Howard.)

Tangled features Rapunzel. Rapunzel is a secluded Princess who grew up in a tower after being kidnapped by a woman she was forced to call Mother her entire life. In fact, it is because of Rapunzel that the audience refers to the villain of the movie not as Gothel, but Mother Gothel. Rapunzel grew curious as to why there was floating lights in the sky every year on her birthday, feeling in her heart that they are meant for her. Despite her pleas, Mother Gothel forbids her from ever leaving her tower and due to the love Rapunzel nonetheless feels for her, she concedes each and every time. It is because of this that Rapunzel lacks the usual confidence of a girl her age.

This adds the issue of growing up to the Princess. The fact that she is still somewhat naïve and innocent makes this young lady, at 18 years old relatable even for the younger generation of kids. It becomes not only a film about Rapunzel running off with a stranger to view the floating lights up close, but a movie about finding her independence. Co-director Nathan Greno said as much about the character and the movie’s underlying message.

The great thing about this movie is that the place where a lot of people have been is that everyone wants to find their independence. Everyone wants to be their own person, so it’s the same thing. At the core of it, that is what Rapunzel is going through.

Rapunzel meets the wanted thief Flynn Rider. She nearly gives him away in an attempt to prove she can handle herself. Mother Gothel takes it that she is whining about the outside again and yells, making Rapunzel fall silent. This ultimately and ironically proves to be Mother Gothel’s undoing and Rapunzel leaves the tower for the lightshow. The closer she gets, the more uncertain she feels, worried about what she will do next, after she has achieved her dream.

Each and every Disney Princess is unique in her own way. We all know Belle for being the book-smart Princess, Cinderella who chased down her dreams and held on to faith, Ariel the mermaid, Jasmine the adventurous Arab, Pocahontas the Native American denied her happily ever after, the list goes on. Whether or not Rapunzel holds this unique quality is what will decide whether Tangled passes this standard. Rapunzel represents a first for Disney on many fronts. She is Disney’s most proactive and most talented Princess. Indeed, the first song of the movie is When Will My Life Begin and it shows just how many talents she possesses. She reads, paints, plays guitar, she sings daily which unknowingly grants Mother Gothel eternal youth. This is a play on the purity Rapunzel represents. Having been secluded her entire life like Aurora, she is naïve of the outside world and she quickly learns that Mother Gothel was not lying about the world she wanted so much to venture into.

Rapunzel has similarities to Aurora in that she was secluded and unaware of her heritage. She learns of her heritage through the floating lights, finds love in the wanted thief which makes her the first Disney princess to fall in love with such a character. In fact, Rapunzel, in a way fell in love with the very danger Mother Gothel warned against. Disney definitely passed this standard.

Disney Relationship

And at last, they see the light
And at last, they see the light

The relationship between Rapunzel and Flynn is perhaps one of the most developed relationships Disney has to offer and worthy of the Renaissance era. Snow White fell in love at first sight, so did Cinderella (not to mention that marriage was also out of convenience), Aurora fell in love in a dream and Ariel fell in love with Eric because he is a human. It was not till the nineties when the relationship started being built with Jasmine slowly growing to love Aladdin (though it took a lie to do it), Belle found love for a monster, John Smith fell in love with Pocahontas at first sight though he had to grow on her, and Tiana and Nevine were built up and realized over time.

Tangled makes it a point to build this relationship up too. It starts out with both being, if anything annoyed with the other. Flynn would give anything to just take the satchel Rapunzel hid from him back and go on his way and Rapunzel just wants to see the lights and be back in her tower before Gothel gets home. By the middle of the movie, Rapunzel starts feeling that perhaps Flynn is in love with her and despite Mother Gothel’s ire, she falls for him too. Because their relationship just started blooming, Mother Gothel tries destroying the base of it and challenges Rapunzel to give him the satchel and see what happens.

“Go ahead and give him this! This is why he’s here. Don’t let him deceive you. Give it to him, watch, you’ll see. Trust me my dear, that’s how fast he’ll leave you. I won’t say I told you so!”

Rapunzel bravely says she will give it to him but holds off. Their base proves strong as steel when she gives it to him in the middle of their At Last I See the Light sequence and he puts it down to kiss her. He meets the thugs he previously worked with and hands the satchel back, deciding he found a new dream, that being Rapunzel. Had it gone his way, they would’ve lived happily ever after but Mother Gothel had other plans. Together, they overcame the obstacle, her love for Flynn saves him from the fatal stab wound and they truly do live happily ever after (and married.)

This relationship did not start at first sight; it was built towards and realized. Disney’s beginning would have seen such a relationship as idealistic but that ideal became a reality. This was not out of convenience or for the sake of being human, but true love. Ironically, it is Prince Charming’s kiss that saves Snow White and Prince Phillip’s kiss that saves Aurora even though both were borne from first sight and nothing else. This was built, developed, the audience grew to root for them and in the end, yes, her tears and true love saves him with that last golden drop of sunshine. Disney magic at its best.

Disney Villain

"You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I'm the bad guy."
“You want me to be the bad guy? Fine. Now I’m the bad guy.”

If Disney magic isn’t enough, the audience is introduced to Mother Gothel, a hording, narcissistic witch who plays as the main antagonist in the movie. Each an every Disney villain is memorable in certain ways. Jafar is remembered for being a sorcerer, Maleficent is the Mistress of all Evil, there is the Evil Queen who is known primarily for that poisoned apple, Frollo for his twisted desires and much more. Mother Gothel is your hoarding, narcissistic witch who also plays as a loving and caring mother.

Unlike many other Disney movies though, many dimensions of Gothel is shown. Mother Gothel starts out by hording the pivotal flower infused with a golden drop of sunshine that can heal any illness and keep one young. When the flower is taken away from her and given to the ailing Queen of the nameless Kingdom, Gothel grew angry. The Queen gives birth to a baby girl who inherited the sunshine’s gold in the form of her golden hair.

Gothel kidnaps the child and hides her away in a tower with, you guessed it, no apparent doors and a single window. She has Rapunzel sing to her the song of youth to keep her young, all the while acting very motherly and protective of her and disallowing her to venture outside on the grounds that the world is dangerous and she won’t be able to handle it. Judging by Rapunzel’s immediate naivety, her assumptions prove to be accurate. Rapunzel reaches her eighteenth birthday and starts hungering for the outside world.

Gothel, of course is very protective of Rapunzel for obvious reasons but there stand two sides to this villain. One is the motherly figure who Rapunzel loves dearly. She is the usual kind of mother, protective and caring but also stern and strict around hot-button issues. In her theatrical villain’s song Mother Knows Best, she warns Rapunzel about how dangerous the world is. Ruffians, thugs, thieves and the like and indeed, shortly after Rapunzel leaves, she does meet ruffians and thugs. It’s just lucky that they weren’t as bad as they seemed and all the while, Gothel kept a close eye on her without her knowing. As of then, Gothel, while her true intentions are no secret, still plays a motherly figure who tries to take Rapunzel back with soft power (pressuring her through fear of the world.) She is the first villain to have dual personalities (the next one being Hans from Frozen.)

As Gothel is the first Disney villain to have dual personalities (though not the last), she is expected to make a transition to the villainous personality the audience is introduced to at the beginning of the movie. Gothel transitions from motherly figure to narcissistic villain in her ominous line:

“You want me to be the bad guy? Fine! Now I’m the bad guy.”

Allying with the very thieves and thugs she warned against, she proceeds to chain Rapunzel and force her to submit and when Flynn comes in to aid her, she stabs and kills him. Rapunzel begs to be allowed to save him, swearing to fight her all her life unless she is allowed to heal him. Flynn has other plans and by cutting her hair off, Gothel’s ages accelerates and she falls off the tower, ending up as a heap of dust.

Disney Music

Fantastic visuals and touching lyrics. Indeed worthy of Alan Menken.
Fantastic visuals and touching lyrics. Indeed worthy of Alan Menken.

Alan Menken is at it again in Tangled. The one behind the music of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and much more, he returned to compose the music for none other than Disney’s adaptation of Rapunzel, Tangled. Of course, it was well expected that Menken would deliver. When did he ever steer a Disney movie wrong? As expected, he did not sacrifice his dignity with the movie but delivered his best magnificently, holding little back with the typical villain’s song, a romantic duet, and everything in between.

It can be debated which song is the first since Flower Gleam and Glow was sung at the very beginning as part of the Prologue but was also very short. The first full song, When Will my Life Begin is sung by Rapunzel. Both set the tone of the movie. Rapunzel is a child in an eighteen year-old body, waiting for life to start, waiting to venture out of the tower and explore the outside world. This song also shows off Rapunzel’s many talents, and as a girl of many talents, many can relate to her whether it’s because of pottery, singing, being a guitarist, painting, reading or all of the above, it introduces not only the movie but the Princess herself.

As a follow-up, Rapunzel asked to venture out once again and the song that followed was none other than the villain song, sung very early in the movie. Mother Knows Best is a jumpy tirade by Mother Gothel warning against the outside world, demeaning Rapunzel for being sloppy, poorly dressed, immature, and even chubby (which she’s not). This makes clear to the audience that she’s the villain even if Rapunzel does not realize it yet. With the song and insults come the basic theme of the song which is that mother does in fact know best.

To follow this, Rapunzel meets a bunch of thugs which Gothel did warn her against. Strangely enough, they too had a musical number of their dreams and what they hope to achieve. They turn out to be much the same as Rapunzel and her new companion as they sing their dreams including one memorable one who just wants to find love. As part of this song, Flynn Rider gets to be the first Disney character to note that everyone around him is singing. This song serves to connect Rapunzel and Flynn to who may have been potential villains. In the end, they help them escape from the guards. This leads to a chase scene and when all hope seems lost, Flower Gleam and Glow makes a comeback. This comeback is well done because when it first served as the song of youth, it then serves as the song of light when Rapunzel uses her glowing hair to see underwater, allowing them to get out and avoid drowning.

Flower Gleam and Glow is sung once again when Rapunzel introduces and explains her power and uses it to heal Flynn’s injured hand, making it a song of healing as well as youth and light. Yet another reprise makes itself known when Gothel approaches Rapunzel and in response to her belief that there might be a relationship between her and Flynn, Gothel responds with a reprise of her villain’s song but this time in a sarcastically mocking tone called Rapunzel Knows Best. Gothel, in the song challenges her to give Flynn the crown which he said himself he’s after, and watch how fast he ditches her. She ends with a final insistence that mother still knows best, and leaves. The song is the challenge. Gothel switches from motherly to challenging and Rapunzel is left conflicted, thus the first conflict in the movie comes in.

The next piece is not a song and therefore not part of the standard, but it’s worthy of note as an instrumental because it introduces the Kingdom and the happiness of the citizens. This is important because as the unknown lost Princess who the Kingdom still believes in, Rapunzel unknowingly gets along with all of them.

As was her dream, Flynn fulfills his promise and takes her on a boat to watch the lights and this serves as the duet of the film and the film’s conclusive ending of love. Rapunzel gives the crown back, Flynn puts it down and leans in to kiss her with the realization At Last I See the Light. The song is spectacularly visual with music and rhymes. It shows how blind the characters have indeed been to the light that was right in front of them. The song serves as a sort of enlightenment period for the couple. The movie could have ended there and left it at a good ending… Gothel had other plans.

Unlike Frozen which would not let it go, Tangled ended it music on a high note. At Last I See the Light was the last song in the movie, acting as the duet between the couple and almost reminding everyone of the classic A Whole New World sequence from Aladdin, (except instead of a carpet, they use a boat.) The movie quit while it was ahead and concluded itself with the final battle. The problem Frozen had was that its songs, from the beginning, got better and better until climaxing with Let it Go, and then falling down and never reaching that pinnacle again with its other songs. Tangled climaxed with At Last I See the Light and quickly concluded the movie to end on a high note. One last song is sung, and that is a reprise of Flower Gleam and Glow, this time with the purpose of healing and rebirth with that one last golden drop of sunshine. Flower Gleam and Glow turns out to be one of the most meaningful songs not only in the movie but in all of Disney with its powers of youth, light, healing, and rebirth.

Disney Settings

It might be nameless but this is a Kingdom of tradition.
It might be nameless but this is a Kingdom of tradition.

Each and every Disney movie, without fail, has at least one single setting the movie is known for. Ever since its beginnings in Snow White, it has introduced memorable settings without fail. There is New Orleans (or even the Bayou) in Princess and the Frog, Agrabah or the Cave of Wonders in Aladdin, the Dwarves Cottage in Snow White, or Atlantica from Little Mermaid to name a few. Tangled is known for three memorable settings. It is known for the hidden tower, the Ugly Duckling Pub, and the nameless Kingdom.

Usually, the fact that the Kingdom lacks a name would be a major minus for a movie but in Disney, which failed to name Snow White’s Kingdom or even Cinderella’s Kingdom, this is not a minus by Disney’s standards. It is for this reason why Disney is not held to the same standards as other movies and rightfully so. A series that prides itself on love-at-first-sight plotlines and only recently started developing relationships should not be held to the same standards as others. If a Kingdom without a name is ok in Cinderella and the Little Mermaid, it is definitely ok in Tangled when it has two other memorable settings to back it up.

That is one defense, though. The fact that Disney does not have to name their Kingdoms does not mean the Kingdom is fine. It must be judged according to how memorable it is. The Kingdom serves not only as a setting but a destination. While the movie begins and ends in the hidden tower and the Ugly Duckling Pub is only a stop in the road, the Kingdom is alive with tradition, song and dance. Indeed, the fact that the Kingdom appears traditional in their yearly releasing of the lights, one can also argue that its tradition extends to Disney itself, which is why they failed to name the Kingdom. Disney returned to its roots in Tangled.

In contrast to their rulers, the people appear very happy. This reflects on the King and Queen who the audience knows little about. Despite their personal sadness, it fails to reflect in the Kingdom. The fact that they kept their people happy despite all says a lot. Even in a modern classic where settings are indeed usually named (as they were during the Disney Renaissance) Tangled did not fail this standard.

Disney Characters

And Rapunzel had him so well trained.
And Rapunzel had him so well trained.

Disney tries its very hardest to make its aspects memorable. As with settings, there are side characters throughout Disney that are never forgotten. Side characters’ role in Disney movies is to add color. They make the movie what it is. The mice in Cinderella are perfect examples of this, all seven dwarves from Snow White take the cake but there is also Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio who is widely loved and used by Disney second only to Mickey Mouse, Tinker Bell from Peter Pan who is Disney’s fairy mascot, and the Genie from Aladdin voiced by the ever-loved Robin Williams and that’s not counting Sebastian from The Little Mermaid or Zazoo from Lion King.

Tangled had side characters too and only time will tell if they truly are memorable or not, let alone hold a candle to Sebastian or Jiminy Cricket. In the meantime, it is worthy enough to pick out their aspects and judge them based on those. The side characters in Tangled are the pub thugs and their various dreams, Pascal the Chameleon, and Maximus the canine horse. Do any of these characters hold aspects that may make them memorable and well-loved in the years to come? Will they ever be able to gain the special pedestal with Sebastian and Lumiere and Cogsworth?

Pascal is Rapunzel’s loyal companion, her loyal pet and he cunningly uses his small size to his advantage to hide from Gothel throughout the movie, and he delivers the final trip that makes her fall from the window. Pascal is a very different type of companion. We’ve all seen the parrot the villain has, pirates are known for this, let alone Jafar from Aladdin. What else would a mermaid have for a sidekick other than a fish? Snow White herself practically commanded the respect and help of all the animals in the forest just by crying on the floor. Rapunzel, as Nathan Greno wisely said, had something different, something no other protagonist has had before.

“This girl, she’s not a dainty, precious girl. She is this rough and tumble girl next door. So what would she have? She’s not going to have a little, pretty bluebird on her shoulder. She’s going to have a lizard.”

Even more memorable is Maximus, who is Disney’s first character to act like a dog when he is not really a dog. Frozen tried doing this with Sven the reindeer and fell short due to repetition. Maximus is the first and at the time, he was cute. Not only does he sniff around like a dog, he pulls a crowd aside with his two front legs like a human. That alone might have made him very memorable and if Frozen had not tried to repeat this with Sven, it may have been remembered for years to come. Unfortunately, it may now be seen as typical Disney, especially if they continue such mannerisms. Hopefully, even with that, Maximus will outshine them all.

The pub thugs are known for their various dreams, many of which come true in the end in an attempt to give all, not just our main couple, a happy ending. Should Maximus fail, the thugs who came to their aid at the very end may very well take memory as the kindhearted people they really were. One would become a concert pianist, another found love, yet another is making ceramic unicorns and all of them make up a team of thugs who not only helped them escape the guards in the middle of the movie, but broke Flynn out of prison at the end.


Once again, Disney has done it. Tangled is no failure by any means. In fact, it passed with all seven standards. All seven aspects Disney is known for were met by this movie. It may well be a mistake when people claim Frozen is the best since the Disney Renaissance thanks primarily to Let it Go, especially when the latter movie failed with a couple of its standards. Tangled took them all and with such a talented Disney Princess, a dancing Kingdom, and a memorable band of thugs, Tangled is indeed a brilliant movie and has earned its place among Disney’s classics.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Chi Mercier

    I think this is the best Disney film in years. As good as Beauty and The Beast, better than Aladdin. The songs are great. One in particular was Oscar worthy.

  2. Some of the songs weren’t half bad, although they felt a little modern. The animation was absolutely gorgeous, and I thought it was actually quite nuanced for a Disney film, especially the core relationships between Flynn and Rapunzal and Rapunzal and Mother Gothel.

    All in all a lovely film.

  3. I didnt like this movie
    it was pretty boring

  4. Frozen & Tangled were both really good films, although i liked Tangled Somewhat more then Frozen

  5. I watched it in a packed cinema. Not only did the children laugh throughout, but the adults too. It might lack the added layers of subtext which Princess And The Frog had for example, but it was a fun rollercoaster ride with enough characterisation and twists and turns to keep the adults happy too.

  6. I for one, loved this film.

    I grew up with the princesses, I was 7 when The Little Mermaid came out, for example, and I think this is a great contemporary follow-up to the old fashioned Disney princesses. It’s nice to see more independent strong princess as comparison to the first Disney princess who just rolled over and died when she was told to. There were darker moments in this movie than in the older princess movies, but Rapunzel is darker in the Grimm’s version as well. No it’s not exactly like the Grimm’s version, but none of the Disney version are that close to the original fairy tales either.

  7. Liz Kellam

    I like that Disney movies have a set scenario they tend to follow. If the formula’s not broken, don’t try and fix it! They are films you can usually depend on to entertain children and adults alike.

  8. Love this film! Interesting analysis and points. It is definitely a Disney film and the style is very recognizable but I think it also brought something very new and opened the way to new Disney films like Frozen and all. There is a feminist side to it and the visual effects are a lot more developed.

  9. I agree, I also loved this film and thought it significantly better than Frozen. While ‘Let it Go’ was a fairly powerful song, none of the other songs in Frozen seemed that special or appealing to me, but I enjoyed all of Tangled’s songs. The romantic relationship between Rapunzel and Flynn also felt more realistic than previous Disney films – well, as realistic as romances in Disney films can be, anyway. Interesting article in all!

  10. I completely agree with your final statement. Tangled is one of the most developed Disney movies in a while and it does deserve more attention for that fact. What the story shows is that a girl can do anything as long as they believe what they are doing is right. This is a message that needs to be more prominent in today’s society.

  11. Jordan

    I prefer Tangled to Frozen. I also found it interesting to read that the guy who did the song composition for Tangled also did those older Disney movies. I would have expected that the staff would have changed drastically over time. Now I’ll have to backtrack and find your Frozen article 😛

    • Jamie Tracy

      Check out Spectre’s Pinocchio article.

    • Adnan Bey

      If you liked this article, you will like the others I have written. I dealt with Pinocchio, Frozen and Black Cauldron, the latter two in the same manner as this one. Pinocchio was different. As my first article, I dealt with its darker corners. Like Tracy said, I recommend it.

  12. Jamie Tracy

    Another great job SpectreWriter.
    I look forward to these articles you write.

  13. My favorite Disney film thus far! Such a great article!

  14. I enjoyed this article a great deal. The author did a good job of identifying “Tangled”‘s place in the Disney filmography with a clear set of categories. I felt that it was a bit hurriedly written and one last proof & revision would have served it well. That said, it was a fun read overall and provided solid criteria for evaluating future Disney movies.

  15. Walton Andres

    Easily one of my favorites if not my favorite Disney movie

  16. Some very smart people running Disney. They buy Marvel in 09 and Star Wars in 2012. That company is going to make an insane amount of money in the next 5 years. Guardians 2, Avengers 2-3 and Star Wars 7-9.

  17. I have to say going back and rewatching this after Frozen I really like it even more than before. The main duo really is a cute pair and yet they are really good characters in their own rights.

    I even think the music is better than I remembered though agree that it’s hard to reach the legendary status of the more classic Disney songs.

    A very enjoyable movie that goes up higher on my list of top Disney movies the more times I see it.

  18. The 3D was fantastic and it really flet like watching a classic Disney movie. Its heartbreaking and Im not a soft guy.

  19. Werner Ly

    I loved Tangled, as I love all Disney movies. However, I think the moment where Pascal trips Mother Gothel should be omitted from the DVD/Blu-Ray release. This movie is a definite hit, but, without that moment, it could be in the top 3 Princess movies to have ever been released.

  20. Louie Keeler

    Loved the movie, but was disappointed that a few scenes that were in recent trailers and commercials weren’t in the movie. Other than that, I very much enjoyed it.

  21. I loved the movie, thought the characters were funny, witty and entertaining… I am just confused as to why this article would choose to use Tangled as an example of Disney design rather then a more modern story. This movie is a ‘Little’ old, though i suppose not to much so (a few years if i remember right). The article is brilliant besides, and i did love the break down! Good job.

  22. Great article! I agree that Tangled meets the standards typical of a Disney movie.

  23. Jonathan Leiter

    This is my first time reading one of your articles, which I assume is part of a series in this case: exploring the validity of different Disney movies based on how they stack up to 7 standards of previous Disney classics. I think exploring these movies in this way is a brilliant idea, and it allows for a deeper discussion of these titles that might not otherwise happen, as it probably did not with “Frozen” for the most part. People seemed to just blindly put that one on a pedestal all because of the song and the conflict resolution of familial love over romantic love. (even though that had already been done before)

    However, while I like the aspects you cover, and I can see why you’ve chosen the categories that you have; it doesn’t seem like a fair set of criteria considering that Disney has only made 12 movies that include an actual Princess out of the 54 Major animated features they’ve produced. And so with that staggering difference in proportion, why only limit your potential for 100% results to films which actually include a Disney princess? It ends up forcing rather enjoyable and solid films like “The Emperor’s New Groove” and “Lilo and Stitch” to not receive good results.

    I don’t wish to come off as taking serious issue with this, though. I merely mean to express my curiosity as to your choice of criteria, and perhaps whether or not you do things differently or plan to approach articles differently when discussing something like “Lady and the Tramp,” “The Sword in the Stone,” or “Pinocchio?”

    Otherwise, very comprehensive and in-depth work here. I’ll be curious to know your thoughts on some of the Disney sequels, like “The Little Mermaid 2”, if you ever have plans to tackle those under your 7 standards.

    • Adnan Bey

      Hi. Thanks for your review. Yes, this is part of a series. I analyze how good different Disney movies are, judging them as Disney movies as opposed to usual Hollywood material since the two are not the same thing. As you saw, there are seven standards I hold Disney up to, or at least those kinds of movies. As you correctly said, the same cannot be applied to non-Princess movies, in other words, the vast majority of Disney films.

      The criteria are broad. For a non-Princess movie, I replace Princess with protagonist, and I replace relationship (if it does not apply) with friendship or else something along those lines. Other than those two aspects, the others are fair game. Side characters, its storyline, its villain, its music (almost every Disney movie has music) etc… it really depends on the movie.

      If you take Hunchback for example, I’d replace the Princess with Quasimodo and the relationship stays true with Esmerelda and Phoebus. So and so forth. In that sense, I have no intention of allowing this to put down perfectly good films like Lilo and Sitch and Meet the Robinsons. In fact, neither of those even tried with a romantic relationship but did try with a friendship, a familial relationship (something along those lines.) See what I mean?

      This is actually a valid question and I am surprised nobody asked this before. The criteria more or less remain the same with only the relevant parts changed. After all, most of those seven criteria are actually present in those previous films, regardless of whether they were done right or not. Disney Princesses are usually (with the exception of Aurora) the protagonist, and so when they are not present, there is at lest a main character/protagonist who would fit a sort of criteria. Unique traits that set him apart, etc… I have full intention of dealing with Sword and the Stone and Fox and the Hound eventually. As for Pinocchio, I dealt with it already. Not the way the others movies were dealt with, just explored something else. I recommend it if you haven’t already read it. 🙂

      As for sequels, with the exception of Rescuers Down Under, they are not counted as part of Disney Animated canon nor are they counted as one of the 54 animated films. I won’t say no but they certainly won’t be judged according to those criteria. Maybe just a question of what makes a good sequel and what does not.

  24. Jemarc Axinto

    What I mainly enjoyed about this show was the dynamic between Flynn and Rapunzel. It was a lot different from the “usual” Disney trope. Strictly because she is the one that saved him, and she is the one that made him go on the journey instead of him taking her away. All good things in my book. Great article 🙂

  25. I love Tangled!! I didn’t want to see it at first, but then I decided too. Absolutely, one of the greatest Disney movies!

  26. Rapunzel is my favourite fairy tale of all time. I’ve always loved how Disney ties small details of the original story into their movies (i.e. in the fairy tale, the prince’s eyes were healed by her tears falling into them; in Tangled, Eugene was healed by her tears falling into his wound). Very nice analysis of how Tangled fits the Disney Formula. 🙂

  27. Perhaps there ought to be an additional criterion by which Disney movies are evaluated, and that is the Disney audience(s) and its response to the movies. Most of these movies are attended by a combination of children and adults. I know I take my four year old daughter to see these movies, and if we both walk away from it thrilled, then it was a good movie. For instance, we both saw the Lego movie, but where I was enthralled from the get go, my daughter was ready to leave after a half hour or so. On the other hand, we watched Planes together, and I was left wanting more substance and she was the one who loved it. In this case, Tangled was a wonderful film for both of us to watch. She was too young to see it in the theater when it came out, but we watched it on Blu Ray, and she and I both absolutely loved it. How it plays for the different adult and child audiences is an important facet of Disney’s success.

  28. Kingdom Dancing is a fantastic song from this film. Granted its only an instrumental piece.

  29. Mia Pearce

    It was simply stunning. And in my books, far more enjoyable than Toy Story and Beauty and the Beast (don’t get me wrong, I’m the biggest fan of these 2 movies in particular) but I really enjoyed Tangled.

  30. We went to see an advanced screening of Tangled and we LOVED it! My usually fearful 4yo loved it and my 2yo sat there w/the 3D glasses on the whole time.

    Frozen was amazing too!

  31. Great choice of voice artists in this one.

  32. Wilson Allen Williams

    Wonderful piece. It’s a lovely read.

  33. I didn’t know about the Disney standards. Very informative.

    • Adnan Bey

      Thanks. But I’d be quite frightened if you did know. They’re not ‘known’ per se. These are the standards I personally hold the movies up to and I believe should be considered every time a Disney movie comes out.

  34. my kids loved it

  35. Jessica M Farrugia

    I’m not a massive fan of Disney’s new animations – I’m sentimentally attached to the old cartoon versions! But I definitely think Tangled is worth watching!

  36. Janssen

    Very entertaining, great animation, great detail, and a sweet love story…and everyone lives Happily Ever After. It instantly became a Disney favorite of mine!

  37. I’ve always thought the relationship between Gothel and Rapunzel was a really brave portrayal of abuse. Of course it’s a Disney movie, so they can’t go too dark, but you really see the damage Gothel did to her. For me, it’s similar to Judge Frollo and Quasimodo’s relationship in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

  38. Siothrún

    I found this article to be interesting. I found the standards you selected to be ones that defined Disney well. I was intrigued by what you focused on and how those standards have evolved over time. I think that this is a thoughtful in-depth view of Tangled and how it measures up to other Disney classics.

  39. This was a great analysis of Tangled which often doesn’t get the credit it deserves because it’s not considered a “classic” Disney movie. This is one of my favorite Disney movies and I’m so glad that you showed how it held up to Disney’s standards in a modern movie by having an active, multifaceted princess, inventive sidekicks, and a realistic relationship.

  40. Greenwalledtower

    I like how Disney is trying to reinvent the old standards by making them more nuanced. Gothel is still a villain but she is complicated enough to at least seem to have some affection for Rapunzel. Even the standard tropes like true love’s kiss are getting re-imagined, as in Frozen and Once Upon a Time. Another point that I’m glad they are changing is the wise-cracking sidekick. This new batch of Disney movies is of a much higher caliber than some in the past.

  41. My favorite part of Tangled was the back story of the flower and how Rapunzel got the powers. The narration in the beginning was smooth, inviting and just all around interesting, seeing as how Flynn was the one telling the story.
    Flynn is on my list of cutest and more interesting Disney male protagonist. He’s funny, witty and caring in the end.

  42. Excellent family film´.

  43. Megan McKay

    I like that Disney chose to change the backstory. It allowed for so much more development of Rapunzel’s character and made the story more applicable to modern life. Watching Sleeping Beauty leads to an endless stream of sarcastic comments such as “yes, I always fall deeply in love with strange men I only vaguely remember from a dream” or “all that matters in my young life is finding a man to love me, of course.” It’s so refreshing how Rapunzel’s goal is not to find a man, but to discover the mystery of the floating lights. The fact that she falls for Eugene is just gravy, not the goal, and it wouldn’t have happened if she didn’t follow her bliss. How like life.

  44. Tangled isn’t my favorite, but it definitely marks a turning point for Disney. Everything they’ve released since has been gold.

  45. I love Disney films more than any other products. It reminds me of youth imagination and makes me miss those memories.

  46. ElizabethWhite

    Your article was well-researched and thought out.

    There were many aspects I agreed with; however, I can not agree with how Mother Gothel playing the part of a “loving and caring mother.”

    My reasoning is as follows:

    *A true “loving and caring mother” praises her daughters’ beauty and teaches her the truth about the dangers of the world; not lies for her own gain

    Using the standard I have bulleted above, Mother Gothel was never a “loving and caring mother,” but a manipulative woman who saw Rapunzel as one thing: a ticket to eternal youth.

    In Rapunzel’s defense, she had never known another “mother.” The Lost Princess’ warped definition of a “loving and caring mother” was not her fault; it was all “Mother Gothel”‘s fault.

    Children learn what a parent is from their own; in many aspects, Princess Rapunzel was a victim of an abusive parent who used her instead of one who loved, cared and nurtured her.

  47. It is really amazing how Disney has evolved with the times. Will there ever be a princess, though, who does not need a prince?

  48. Jess B.

    “finds love in the wanted thief which makes her the first Disney princess to fall in love with such a character.” I disagree. Jasmine falls in love with Aladdin, the wanted thief. Just because he disguises himself as a prince doesn’t mean he is one and Jasmine sees right through that disguise.

    • TheGraduate

      Your comment is true; however, Aladdin is portrayed as a “good thief” as he steals to feed himself and his monkey. Flynn, on the other hand is clearly introduced as a character who’s past is littered with negative actions meant for negative purposes and not for the greater good.

  49. I’m with you in saying Tangled is better than Frozen! I’m glad to see someone else call Tangled one of Disney’s best. Great article.

  50. Although I enjoyed Tangled I didn’t think that it was one of Disney’s best. My opinion might be biased because I loved watching the older Disney films when I was young and Tangled seemed almost too different. That being said, I thought this article was really well written, showed me an aspect of Disney Princess movies that I didn’t see before.

  51. Amanda Dominguez-Chio

    I love Tangled! Great article!

  52. I totally agree that Tangled didn’t get nearly enough credit. Even as an adult it is still one of my favorite movies, and I love all Disney princess movies. Your article even pointed out what people really don’t notice about Disney princess movies, and it’s the standards that the Disney company holds itself to when making a movie! Good article.

  53. Great Review! Although I disagree a little bit with a couple points, you defended your own very clearly. Keep up the good work!

  54. Amena Banu

    Tangled and Mulan are my favorite Disney movies. I actually liked Tangled more than Frozen, because I found Rapunzel and the way she was characterized to be really relatable. Once again, you’ve done a great thorough analysis!

  55. Tangled is probably one of my favorite Disney Princess movies after Beauty and the Beast. I just adore love stories that develop over time, and the villain herself was a likable character in the way where she played her role as the bad guy good. The music was amazing as well. I especially loved the villian’s songs. Disney truly left us with a film that brought the lost nostalgia you would get from an old 90s Disney Princess movie.

  56. Tangled is basically proof how even though it has evolved, the old princess charm has never left and it has left us nostalgic.

  57. Sarah Faulkner

    I have never seen this movie, but I am happy to hear that the princess saves the prince instead of the other way around. Yay for progessive female characters!

  58. alustick

    I think that its interesting that Disney follows Tangled with the movie Brave, which to what I remember is not a conventional movie. Or to does not follow these 7 pillars.

  59. I love how, although it is a formulaic Disney princess film, Tangled still manages to charm audiences. A lot of teenagers I know love this film in part because of Disney princess nostalgia but also because Tangled is just fun.

  60. TheGraduate

    I thought this was an interesting way to chew-out the parts of a Disney movie that makes it so great. Maybe you could go further and match Disney movies against each other and see which follow the standers and how, and which do not and how.

  61. I thought this was well thought out and well organized. Rather than just give it a grade, you made a comparison to Disney’s original work and worked from there. My only suggestion would be to limit sum of the summarizing, but beyond that, it is great.

  62. Seeing how these seven standards have changed over time is what’s really interesting to me. Rapunzel is definitely a more independent (if a little immature for her age) princess than in early movies, and the villains are developing a much more realistic side when it comes to deceptiveness. Disney keeps these seven standards constant while changing their application to the movies for modern audiences. The path Disney is taking with new movies is a really interesting pattern to follow.

  63. This was an interesting article. I would not personally say that Disney always follows or will follow these conventions in the future. It is an interesting point of view!

  64. VRubinsztain3

    This movie seems to hold a special place in your heart, and that is touching. I would like to point out, however, that there are a couple of aspects of this film that worry me. Rapunzel is, like almost every other Disney princess before her, a white woman of western European descent. I feel like this is a step backward, considering that women of color were finally beginning to be represented during the Disney Renaissance (Mulan, Jasmine, and Pocahontas). In addition, Rapunzel is simply a compilation of physical characteristics that western culture deems to be most desirable in a woman (blonde hair, fair skin, slender figure, natal facial features, for instance); Rapunzel is a perpetuation of the “model” of what a beautiful should look like, and it is completely off-putting for women who look differently, particularly overweight women, underweight women, and women of color. Another aspect of her character that is even more concerning to me is her complete dependance on Flynn Rider to navigate the outside world. Even the presence of a love interest at all is frankly disappointing, because it seems as if we cannot have a Disney movie with a woman as the central character without her having to be accompanied by a ruggedly handsome gentleman.
    P.S. I still really enjoyed watching the movie in theaters…

    • Adnan Bey

      I wouldn’t necessarily say Disney has a history with women from European descent. Rapunzel is one thing and she joins Snow White, Aurora, Belle, and Cinderella. Ariel, Jasmine, and Pocahontas are of different racial backgrounds yes and so is Elsa and Anna, both of whom are Scandinavian/Russian. We have Scottish Merida and African-American Tiana. I think Disney still holds with the racial backgrounds. One can argue that Rapunzel is the first Disney princess in a while to stick with those European characteristics.

  65. Well put together overview of “Tangled”. I have been watching the newest era of Disney movies and especially the Princess movies. While “Frozen” has superior music and vocals of this era, “Brave” shines in the story telling department and “The Princess and the Frog” returns many of the old traditions it is “Tangled” that blends all these together and in the most amazing way.

  66. I think the horse companion left a lot to be desired. I thought this animal character choice was pretty unoriginal considering the previous roles of Pegasus in Hercules and Achilles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I felt as if this horse was a combination of these two characters which ultimately made Maximus unmemorable. Great article though!

  67. adayatatime88

    The best thing about a Disney animated film is that it can be watched and ENJOYED by the whole family. Disney knows what it’s doing when they make and market their films and one of the things that I find most appealing is that they are all (even if very leniently) based on a fairy tale– a type of folktale or fable passed down through generations. Thus, when anyone partakes in any of the animated films not only are they being entertained, but also enlightened. In addition, they all include some moral lesson, i.e. never judge a book by it’s cover (Beauty and the Beast). Then there’s the added benefit of strange and faraway places, awakening children and adults, alike to the possibility of a great big world. Though I do not yet have children of my own, I have no doubt that Disney will play a part in the lives of my future children because if we can’t give them hope, what can we give them?

  68. Tangled may be considered a failure by some, but I personally thought is was great. The animation was pleasant and the songs were lovely. Certainly, it held to the seven standards you described. Gothel was a truly evil villain, with interesting motives and scheming mind. I enjoyed your article and look forward to reading more.

  69. So tangled is a great movie – no doubt. But does it live up to the standards you mentioned? I say no. It seems to me that in its quest to deliver on a solid fairy tale story, Tangled became a little too derivative of the classic princess tale. For instance, like you mentioned much of what we think of when remembering a Disney flick has to do with the first twenty or so minutes of the film. But while Rapunzel gets rounded out a bit, and its entertaining to watch, there’s nothing to really latch on to in the beginning. In Little Mermaid we have the mer-people kingdom. In Hunchback there is Paris; etc. Here there’s a tower – in a forest? The setting is forgettable. And disney movies typically just don’t have forgettable settings. That said, the characters still shine through and carry the movie, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Good article. It’s important, I think, to compare a studio’s movie to its own work, rather than movies just similar in genre.

  70. this is a great anaylsis!

  71. I agree completely! Another thing that you sort of touched on but I’m not sure if you came out and said it, is that Tangled, in my opinion, has done the absolute best job of combining the original, modern, and post modern aspects of Disney movies. Everyone likes Snow White and Cinderella (at least, those of us old enough to have watched them young, as opposed to the younger generation brought up on the newer ones), and how can anyone compete with the 80s and 90s, with Hercules, Aladdin and obviously, The Lion King (which, objectively, is the standard by which I hold all Disney movies). Tangled represents a new age and a new style, but unlike Frozen, it maintains some of the original magic that made Disney what it is today. I agree 100% with your analysis of the songs and I’ll go a step further; somewhere along the way, the magic of Disney songs started shifting from fun, catchy sing along tunes (Hakuna Matata, anyone?) to serious dramatic sounding numbers designed seemingly only to impress on Broadway, and almost forgetting the original target audience of children. Personally, this is the single reason I had issues with Frozen. Olaf’s number was fun and silly, but for the most part I thought this was a movie designed to be turned into a stage production, not one that just happened naturally. Tangled, on the other hand, finds a way to keep that fun, sing song vibe, while still making critically exceptional music. I could go on but I’d basically just be continuing to agree with all of your points.

  72. I think Maximus will be memorable in the end. I had to be reminded of the chameleon and the pub thugs were even in the movie, but Maximus never left is prominence for me. Frozen’s try with this by having the reindeer act similarly was a poor choice (one could argue the whole movie was a poor choice, in my opinion), but I don’t think it will overshadow Maximus as a side character because everyone is too busy singing “Let it Go”.

  73. A very well written article! The seven points discussed are points that I never thought about before. However, I disagree with the assertion that Rapunzel is the first Disney princess to “fall in love with the Wanted Thief” and the danger beyond her home that he represents. Jasmine completely held that corner of the fairytale market until 2010.

  74. This article is very interesting. I think it’s good that there are a lot of details, and the writer goes through a detailed analysis with each point. I think it’s also nice that the article is relatable. Even when people grow up, they still enjoy Disney movies. It’s a childhood staple.

  75. I think this article is an excellent summary of Disney princess film culture as seen through Tangled. The breakdown of seven categories allowed me to follow through each point and transition easily without feeling lost. Likewise, it kept my interest. Disney movies have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. From their Brothers Grimm origins to their modern interpretations, the films have gained an immense audience. One aspect I would consider is the change of the songs themselves over time. Like samcoxuky commented, I was reminded of the transition from upbeat songs to more dramatic numbers. This would be worth looking into I think.

  76. Great article! You definitely touched on some interesting subjects, even if you didn’t explicitly come out and say them. I love that Disney really started to challenge the typical idealized, romantic image of heroes and love they had propagated in earlier films. Really, if you think about it, it did kind of start with Rapunzel. Even though a lot of that movie was typical cliches and trademark Disney story choices, I feel like they are beginning to produce more realistic and relatable versions of “fairytales” if that’s at all possible. I mean after all, Disney’s main goal is to keep their audience happy, their very large, varied, and socially diverse audience. I definitely think its worth bringing out the definite division that is appearing in today’s society according to a shift in societal norms, and how such a major corporation like Disney uses their influence to affect society.

  77. I don’t see how a Disney movie could ever turn out to be a “failure.” It just wont happen. A disney movie is the one kind of movie that parents with you children can see. You can’t take your 6 year old and go watch The Departed. Well, you can, but you may get some glares of disgust and disappointment. The young audiences will always see the Disney movies. It’s a formula of its own. Young children see a trailer for a new Disney movie and they immediately want to see it, but on what grounds? Young children don’t watch a trailer for a Disney movie and then form strong opinions about the storyline, possible musical numbers, and opposing villains. They see bright colors, smiling faces, and that Disney castle with the firework shooting over the top, and then instantly lose their shit. Not thinking about the fact that they are dragging their mom and dad to some movie that they don’t want to see just because you got sold off of a standard Disney movie trailer. Those commercials are pitching their movie to the young kid who’s watching cartoons in the living room. Disney knows what it’s doing. I really don’t think that Disney movies need to follow these standards, but there are some interesting points made here. I find it amusing that in the original story it all started with a pregnant woman who had cravings for a plant. See that, if you weren’t so greedy you could have saved yourself a lot of trouble. Also, the prince just climbs up the tower and instantly you fall in love? Yeah….that totally happens all the time in our society. Disney is just breeding a generation of kids who believe in this instant love and happy ever after bullshit. I would love to see the one Disney movie where the princess isn’t beautiful and the prince doesn’t have a jaw line like Patrick Swayze, then i’ll be sold Disney.

  78. I would love to hear your interpretation of the seven Disney Standards on The Princess and the Frog.

  79. i agree with you in many ways i saw Disney adapted to the modern world and ideas in this movie. From the perfect love story and love at first sight ideas in this one you can actually see a change in that a more slowly grown relationship and that at the end also leaves the idea that they will still be in a relationship and not get married right away like it normally happens. This is Disney taking a new step for reaching the new generation where ideas and open minded thinking is bigger and well simply love at first sight does not work as it did in the past. Beside all that change you cans till find the “magic of Disney there; in its music colors and character that represent them as always.

  80. Ben Hufbauer

    Thanks, SpectreWriter, for this well-written series of articles. I’ve really enjoyed them.

  81. Fantastic article! you really did a great job analyzing the film 🙂

  82. I loved Tangled because of the dynamic between Flynn and Rapunzel. Their relationship is one of trust, friendship and respect for each other and I always appreciated that, despite that they initially started out only using each other to get what they wanted (but that was mutual too). Rapunzel didn’t swoon after him (even though he tried to woo her) and for me, it seemed that anyone could have walked into that tower and she would’ve tried to break out of there. Flynn and Rapunzel earned each other’s respect, saving each other and taking care of each other. Their relationship developed over time and they didn’t marry until years and years after the initial story takes place.

    Anyway, good job on this article. I’m going to venture into your other Disney-related articles. Keep up the well-thought out, careful writing. It’s looking good!

  83. You know, sometimes I take Disney movies just at face value, but you help me realize that there is a lot more to take away if you take a moment to think about things. I really appreciated the comment about how Rapunzel is just someone trying to find herself, not unlike regular people like us do every day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to take things at face value too, for pure enjoyment, but there really is a lot of meaning in movies! Thanks for the very in-depth post!

  84. Skylar Mitchell

    It is really interesting to learn more about these seven Disney standards and how this movie falls under those seven standards. I have been wanting to find more movies that follow this sort of pattern to show to my kids. I like that there is a strong princess character along with good relationships and fun characters to support them. It is also fun that the stories have origins from older fairy tales. I will start looking into this movie since I haven’t seen it before! Thanks for sharing this! http://www.disneyquotes.com/tangled-quotes/

  85. Tangled is one of my favorite Disney films and Rapunzel is definitely one of my favorite Disney princesses. In a way, I feel like it’s so underrated, though. Really cool that you took us through the seven standards for it.

  86. Jenae

    This is my absolute favorite Disney movie. I think it’s been very overlooked throughout the Disney franchise. Rapunzel is a character everyone can relate to, and Gothel was the most real villain I’ve seen in a while. Not to mention the symbolism is just absolutely beautiful, and the animation is breathtaking. LOVE this movie! I’m glad you went through it and showed what a great job Disney really did.

  87. To me, the film was pleasant enough but it felt a bit too staid and formulaic to be top-notch.

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