The fact that Tangled is better than Pixar’s latest debacle Brave has become a well known colloquial truth in recent weeks. In terms of which do most people enjoy more, the answer is Tangled. Brave seems to have rubbed people the wrong way. But what does it mean to say that Tangled is braver than Brave? Simply that Tangled is everything Brave should have been. It took all the risks Brave did not, and the amount of effort that went into story development for Tangled seems to dwarf that of Brave like the Empire State Building to a vender’s kiosk. Indeed, Tangled is truer to the style of Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid than that of a typical Pixar film. It’s a musical, with songs by Alan Menken; it’s a fairy tale; and the heroine Rapunzel has enormous green eyes like any Renaissance princess. Brave, however, strays so far from the standard Pixar model that I think a comparison is worth it.
The advertisements for Pixar’s latest film were extremely vague. Even though the trailers gave us a glimpse of the film’s exquisite production design and attention to detail, I still had no idea what the movie was about when I walked into the theatre and sat down. The mystery of the previews lent a sense of otherness to the film, gave it an aura of epicness. That’s what Brave should have been: an epic with huge, sweeping action sequences and a universal story everyone can relate to. Now it is known that this is decidedly NOT what Brave is. Brave is a small movie, and the only reason I can think of for the vagueness of the trailers was that the studio was trying to disguise the fact that it’s about a Queen who turns into a bear. Not surprising, since the last time Disney tried that story the result was a colossal calamity known as Brother Bear. The most striking discontinuity between Brave and Brother Bear is that instead of ugly Phil Collins songs all over the soundtrack it featured less than ugly – though still inappropriate – Mumford & Sons tracks.
Tangled, on the other hand – despite that at its heart it’s just another well-wishing princess flick – conveys a sense of enormity. Though in actuality the story is quite small and self-contained, the attention given to making the world of Tangled seem like a real yet fantastical world. The film’s emotional climax – the release of thousands of floating lanterns into the night sky – achieves a sense of wonder and spectacle Brave could never hope for or even aspire to. Brave was a safe movie: a combination of tried and true formulas and clichés cobbled together into a mess of total unoriginality. Tangled delivers emotionally, takes a tired old story and presents us something we’ve never seen before. Not to mention the music! Oh the music! Sure, it all kind of sounds the same as Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, but if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em. A perfectly delightful song, “I’ve Got a Dream”, takes place in a tavern, and one can’t help notice the musical similarities to “Gaston”. Tangled is in that wonderful tradition of Disney’s finest animated films. Brave belongs of the Disney Channel at twelve noon.