Tangled up in Blonde
I took my three-year-old to see Disney’s Tangled over the holidays and was surprised by how good the movie was, and especially by the quality of the music. The only other Disney movie I’ve seen in years with really excellent music was Enchanted.
In fact, the two films had very similar songs. Witty, catchy tunes that stick with you long after the credits have rolled. Not that the songs from Tangled were replicates of the songs from Enchanted – but there is a similar quality and style to the music that had me wondering if the same people had written the music for both movies.
I did a quick search and it turns out that yes, the composer for both films is Alan Menken – the same Alan Menken who wrote the music for the films that composed what I’ve always considered Disney’s Golden Age: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Since those films, the only good Disney animated musical was The Lion King. Everything else, in my humble opinion, has been either complete crap or non-musical and produced by Pixar.
But something tells me that Disney is back on its feet again. Tangled and Enchanted are every bit as good as the Golden Age films. Not just the music, either, but the stories in both are excellent, and the characters are memorable and interesting. The horse from Tangled, Maximus, is one of the funniest animated creatures I’ve seen in quite a while. And the animation was extraordinary.
Note that I am not someone who immediately associates ‘Disneyfication’ with some negative connotation. Disney films were a huge part of my childhood, from Robin Hood to The Little Mermaid, and while they are not exactly true to the myths and folktales they mine – Tangled’s Rapunzel had nothing to do with the original story except for the long hair and the tower – they still, when they are at their best, tell fantastic tales.
There are a couple more Disney films in the not-terribly-distant future that sustain my hope that the animation studio has found its feet again. In 2012 The Snow Queen is set to open. It will be hand drawn with music by…Alan Menken. And this summer I will be taking the kids to see the new Winnie the Pooh film which, thank God, appears to be mercifully (and wisely) true to the original, rather than dressed up in flashy 3D or mixed with live action (think Yogi Bear).