Monday, March 8, 2010

More on Tangled Rapunzel

Nice long article from the Los Angeles Times on Disney's Rapunzel/Tangled.

Disney restyles 'Rapunzel' to appeal to boys: With 'The Princess and the Frog' coming up short at the box office, the studio retools its next animated feature to lose the girly taint. Now it's called 'Tangled,' with a swashbuckling male lead...

However, some in the Disney animation community think the name change is misguided.

Floyd Norman, a retired Disney and Pixar animator, lampooned the new name with a cartoon on his blog that depicts Rapunzel in her tower brandishing a machine gun and declaring "Rapunzel Salvation: This Is Not a Princess Movie."

"The idea of changing the title of a classic like 'Rapunzel' to 'Tangled' is beyond stupid," said Norman, who worked on films including "Mulan" and "Monsters, Inc."

"I'm still hoping that Disney will eventually regain their sanity and return the title of their movie to what it should be. I'm convinced they'll gain nothing from this except the public seeing Disney as desperately trying to find an audience."

Rapunzel isn't the only Disney princess to have a boy problem.

Concluding it had too many animated girl flicks in its lineup, Disney has shelved its long-gestating project "The Snow Queen," based on the Hans Christian Andersen story. "Snow Queen" would have marked the company's fourth animated film with a female protagonist, following "The Princess and the Frog," "Tangled" and Pixar's forthcoming "The Bear and the Bow," directed by Pixar's first female director, Brenda Chapman, and starring Reese Witherspoon.

Since the release of its first movie, "Toy Story," in 1995, Pixar has uniformly featured male leads in its films, including Buzz and Woody; Mr. Incredible, the middle-aged superhero in "The Incredibles"; and Lightning McQueen, the stock-car star of "Cars."

But princesses have played an integral role in Disney's animation division since the 1937 debut of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" all the way to last year's "Princess and the Frog." Princesses and other female protagonists helped lead the 1980s and '90s revival of the animation unit with "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Mulan." The difference between those releases and "Princess and the Frog" is that those earlier films weren't marketed as princess movies.

The female characters emerged as a brand only in 1999, when Disney Consumer Products lumped nine of the favorite Disney princesses together to sell toys, clothing and other merchandise. That licensing business accounted for $3.7 billion in retail sales last year. Even though "Princess and the Frog" was a box-office disappointment, dolls depicting Disney's first African American princess flew off shelves last holiday season.

And there's a lot more in the article, so click through to see it all.

I am finding the entire situation amusing--but after living and working in Burbank for a few years several years ago, everything Disney does bemuses me.

But can I just say that I am still always fascinated that Hollywood is the last great bastion of gender bias disguised under liberal trappings? I think the success of movies like Twilight prove that women will buy tickets and see movies. But, no, only the boys ever buy tickets or make the decisions on what movies to see in their antiquated views. I'm just grateful a woman finally won a Best Director Oscar. Make a better movie and women will flock to it. Or make a middling movie with a story that appeals and it will be a blockbuster.

And it feels in a way that what is a girl's tale is being stolen from us. If they wanted a boy's tale, why not go ahead and make Jack and the Beanstalk? A tale that is about a young woman's imprisonment in part thanks to her sexuality is being transformed into a male adventure story from the way they are now marketing it.

That aside, I already think the premise of this new movie is much more marketable than Princess and the Frog ever was, barring the name. It does look like it could be FUN, which honestly Princess and the Frog just always looked rather dark and dreary with the entire story spoiled in the previews. On top of that, many parents weren't comfortable with the voodoo and other issues with the film, like a princess that was a frog for most of the film.

But what do I know? After all, I don't write by committee.

Tangled mess, I call it...

And note that this one will be released November 24, almost an entire month earlier than Princess and the Frog, too, which I still think worked against it along with a very snowy winter.

All that and I don't really mind the Tangled title. It's actually a little cute. And in no way a word that boys related to, by the way. They rarely have long, tangled hair. Plus it's hard for the preschool set to pronounce. I'm just irritated with the reasoning behind it. And I am usually irritated by one word titles, too, which is the trend of the last decade. I am so ready for that trend to end. It's impossible to keep up with the names of movies and TV shows because they so rarely reflect the movie very well.


  1. Except that many Maiden in the Tower tales really are about the boy. Some of them are recognizable forms of "The Girl Helps the Hero Flee" -- like, say, "Anthousa, Xanthousa, Chrisomalousa"

  2. It seems to be a split down the middle of Disney's commercial target audience - make movies for boys, make stuff for girls. I don't expect to hear any complaints about how female-centric the merchandise will be. If you're going to expect women and girls to buy all of the accessories that go with the movie, is it unreasonable that those same women and girls might like the movie to be about them?

  3. To tell you the truth, I find that title, "Tangled," misleading, funny, but misleading. It's like watching a parody of Shrek, Hoodwinked, and Happily N'ever After put together. I understand that Disney is sticking to one fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers, but I am afraid what they are doing is disrespectful to not only the Grimm Brothers, but to Walt Disney as well, because he would never change titles on fairy tales. He probably doesn't care about boys who complain about fairy tales with girlish titles being too girlish, the only thing that Disney cares about is not only making dreams come true for FAMILIES by adapting fairy tales into animated movies, but to fulfill famous fairy tale writers who has shaped the world of entertainment for every family around the world. By the way, it is not the title that bothers boys, it's the story itself. Disney is not making the stories strong enough to fit the title.