Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #21

Re: Tangled (2010)

I would appreciate it if you could explicate precisely the allusions in your penultimate paragraph to a “completely gratuitous act against the villain” and to a “flagrantly random deus ex machina.” It is possible that both of these, especially the latter, are simply things I didn’t notice or don’t remember. If that is the case, I have only minor (though still significant) disagreements with you on this film. If not, then your review is perhaps the most colossally wrong treatment you’ve ever given to any movie, and I will elucidate that statement if necessary. In the meantime, thanks for your good work.

Major spoiler warning! Proceed only if you’ve seen the film or don’t mind climactic spoilers …

  1. At the climax of the film, immediately after Flynn slashes Rapunzel’s hair, Mother Goethel begins shrieking and rapidly aging. She totters, losing her balance -- and that’s when Pascal, the chameleon, grabs (I think) Rapunzel’s hair lying on the floor and pulls it taut, deliberately tripping Mother Goethel so that she falls out of the window. There was absolutely no dramatic reason to do this because a) she was dying anyway and b) she could have tripped and toppled out the window without a figurative push from Pascal. And, of course, there’s no moral justification for it either.
  2. The movie very clearly sets up Rapunzel’s hair, and that only insofar as it is uncut and golden, as the magical agent with the regenerative properties from the flower. Flynn Rider cuts Rapunzel’s hair as his dying act. There is no slightest hint anywhere in the film to date of any loophole or back door by which additional regenerative powers might be produced to restore him. Suddenly ascribing regenerative powers in Rapunzel’s tears, is deus ex machina of a particularly egregious sort, more flagrant (though less annoying) than the ending of The Little Mermaid. That the original fairy tale allows Rapunzel to weep regenerative tears in no way affects the dramaturgical logic (or lack thereof) of the film.
  3. Even if I were wrong about both of the above, which I am not, I still doubt it would be “the most colossally wrong treatment I’ve ever given to any movie.” I’ve written a lot of reviews in ten years; surely at least some of them are more colossally wrong-headed than this one.

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