In Disney's 50th animated feature film, the traditional,
"someday my prince will come" princess flick gives way to a more
modern fairytale with an "equal partner" twist.
Tangled, based loosely on the age old Brothers
Grimm tale, mixes the best parts of The Little Mermaid, Snow
White, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and
Mulan, making for an action-packed mashup that hearkens
back to the studios' hand-drawn days while showcasing the amazing
edge that modern techology allows.
The sweet chemisty and clever dialogue between intuitively
smart, golden-maned Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore),
and the rougishly handsome Flynn Rider, (voiced by Zachary Levi) is
wittily sharp, hilarious without being cloying, and ultimately
believable, making the hard-earned love that grows between them as
a result a bonus for the Disney purists, but not a distraction for
the hardcore adventure seekers (ahem, boys and their dads) that
will ultimately focus more on the swashbuckling moves, daring
escapes, and backstabbing intrigue reminiscent of Indiana
The surprisingly scary, 300-year-old Mother Gothel (voiced by
Donna Murphy), makes her overprotective, witchy tyranny seem almost
parentally rational as she brings down the house with throaty
musical numbers composed by Alan Menken (with lyrics by Glenn
Slater) that would be well suited to a stage adaptation... perhaps
a live show at the Disney Parks or gasp, Broadway.
At least a stage production would give viewers a break from the
unnecesary and under-utilized 3D effects that didn't really add
anything to the overall feel of the film save the stunning lantern
scenes, which if you've seen it, are spectacular.
And, though Tangled might not fit the classic Disney
Princess mold, Mandy Moore would like to think it does, while
giving young girls a role model they can emulate while
sharing the driver's seat with the usual foxy male
Moore and I chatted at length about her chance to join the
Disney family as what promises to be another iconic princess
character (SPOILER: Mother Gothel ultimately meets
her gory end, and Rapunzel gets her happy ending, her man and a
royal title to boot), and how it compares to the dreamy,
women-as-wallflowers films we both grew up with.
So you're playing this legendary character, and from
what I was told, she's not a princess so much as a heroine. What
was it like to play a character that steps outside the traditional
Disney princess box?
I'm still going to include myself in the princess category!
At of the end of the day, she is a princess, and though she
doesn't know that until the end of the story, I grew up with
The Little Mermaid and Lion King and
Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, so now to be
part of that same lineage... that family tree, it's really
It's great to think that this movie could mean to kids what
those movies meant to me. They were such a seminal part of my
childhood that it's just kind of the coolest thing to be a part
You and I are about the same age so I know exactly how
Yep. Grew up watching Cinderella over and over and over
again, along with all of the movies you mentioned, and frankly, I
would be crazy excited to play someone that little girls are
excited about. Even little boys. They can like a tough, smart girl,
Yes, they can definitely like her, too. It's nice to see a
changing of roles, letting boys know that girls can keep up.
Personally, my son thinks Rapunzel is a fox. She's
blonde and can deliver a pretty good hit with that frying pan,
which is pretty much it for him.
Aww! That is so cute, and come to think of it, Rapunzel is
really cute and in control.
Do you feel you can identify with her? You're often
described as being very cute and sweet.
I do. I mean, I guess on the surface level of the idea of living
an isolated life.
I think I had a bit more freedom than what Rapunzel has, but
yeah, being a young person who's curious about the outside world,
but I acutally think that Rapunzel is a lot more fearless than I am
or I would be in that situation, because all she's ever been told
about the outside world is that it's bad and it's dangerous and
scary and full of people who want to cut her hair off. I don't
think I could be as brave in the face of the unknown, so I really
applaud her, and I'm genuinely proud to play a character that has
those kinds of admirable qualities. She's got a lot of moxy. She's
very strong willed.
I was going to use the word moxy, too. Just watching the
way she takes on Flynn when he first comes into the tower... if it
were me, I think I'd be hiding.
Yeah! Me, too!
She obviously doesn't have much rapport with people, and she's
not used to having that kind of social interaction with anyone but
her mother, and I think she does a really good job at handling the
And, she's open, too. She gets out into the real world and is on
this adventure, meeting the Pub Thugs and venturing into town for
the first time. It must be so overwhelming for somone who's never
experienced that before, but I think she handles it with a lot of
She's very discerning, but she's very excited and open to people
and new things. She's not judgemental and she's just all of these
things that make me think, 'Wow. I hope some of those rub off on
Except for the 70 feet of hair, right?
Yeah. I really don't need that much hair. I can't do my hair as
it is, so that would be very bad.
You and me both. I'm very, very sad when it comes to
self-styling the hair. It's not good.
Ha! We're the same there, then.
So tell me. How do you think this fairytale is going to
be different from the others that Disney has created so
All I've ever known of the classic fairytale is the damsel in
distress who needs the prince to rescue her, and I think we've
really flipped that on it's head.
Clearly, she needs Flynn to escort her on this adventure, since
she doesn't know where she's going or how to get there, but along
the way, I think she ends up saving him way more than he needed to
save or help her. I like that she really takes on that role as the
heroine in this story, and she's not really along for the ride.
She's definitely in the driver's seat, so I can definitely see
those empowering girl moments in this film, which I really like,
Agreed. And though I loved my princesses when I was
little, I always used to wonder why they waited around for a prince
to show up, when they could just go out and get him.
She can go get him on her own!
She has a life to live!
But I suppose that also speaks to our modern way of
Everyone can switch roles. It no longer just has to be
the man who's in charge. I dig that.
Yes! Girls can do it!
My daughter has the Rapunzel wand, and I have to admit,
I'm the littlest bit pleased that she thinks you're supposed to hit
people with it. Afterwards, she immediately tells them that they're
"very pretty," but it shows attitude.
Oh! It does. And that's very nice of her, too. She follows it up
with a compliment.
She's a little bit of a riddle, which makes me wonder...
do you think that Tangled has a hidden, not-so-obvious moral to the
Hmm... I will say this. I like that in the beginning we see
Rapunzel as someone who's been told that the world is this bad,
scary place, and that everyone will want to steal her magical hair,
but in the end, she discovers that it's what inside of her that
matters. Not the hair. It's just been her all along. So I love
that, and obvious or not, I think it's such an important,
beautiful, quality message to give out. Especially to young women
with all of the pressures of having to look a certain way or
worrying about what constitues as beauty, and at the end of the
movie, when all her hair has been cut off, and she's left with this
cute, short brunette haircut, Flynn loves her just as much or more.
It went beyond that idea of having this long, flowing blonde hair.
Love comes in every shape and size and package.
This isn't your first voice over role, and Rapunzel's so
atheltic. Did you feel that you were able to play into any of the
action of the movie?
I do, yeah. She's definitely an active girl, and since there's
so much action in the film - being chased by a horse, and 'Oh my
gosh! The water's coming after us,' and hitting people with a
frying pan. All of that is a little funny to have to do by
yourself, but it really made me feel like a kid, like I could go
back into the depths of my imagination, and then go for it without
feeling like I was embarrassing myself.
Did you have anyone to play off of in the
No! I was all by myself. We all did our dialogue work by
Do you at least see yourself on screen as the animated
character going through the sequence?
No. Once the dialogue work is recorded, they kind of cobble it
together the parts they like the most, and the animators use that
to match to the film. They record you a lot during the dialogue
sessions, because the animators will use your facial expressions
and your gestures and your physicality as a guidlines for how to
animate. So of course when I saw the movie, there were things that
jumped out at me, I was like 'Woah! That's me!' I could totally see
myself in certain things she did, and ways she moved, like her
faces sometimes, which was really, really bizarre.
Did Disney create the character based on
No. Rapunzel was around for a long, long time before I even came
I think it's cool though. It would be weird to see all these
toys around that look like me.
The Mandy Moore action figure!
Exactly! It's me but not me.
But I could definitely recognize your voice in the movie, so
there was a piece of you in there.
Yup. A little piece of me.
You are playing somebody totally different, and it's so much
easier for people to invest themselves in the movie because they're
not looking at you. I think it's an easier sell than being in a
live action movie where you play somebody totally different than
how people percive you.
You're so versatile though.
I auditioned for the role.
Yes. I auditioned several times, actually.
Honestly, I thought they would have come to
Oh no. I wish. But it's good though, because at the end you know
you really won it.
At first I wasn't even going to audition, because I was like,
'There's no way I'm even going to get this, and I don't want to be
disappointed,' but at the same time, I loved, loved, loved those
Disney movies growing up, and I thought, 'How cool would it be to
be a part of that pop culture.'
I knew it was a project that I would be really proud of and
excited about, which honestly, is not always the case. So I really
liked that kind of guarantee as well.
This is the 50th animated Disney film, and to me, being able to
have that forever, keep it in my back pocket... have kids one day
and be able to tell them, 'Guess what? Mom's a Disney
That doesn't get to happen too often.
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.
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