tangledmime tangledmime

Disney Tangled

I had a chance to see Tangled a few weeks ago and I’ve been biding my time and collecting my thoughts about it. The arrival (in my mailbox) of Jeff Kurtti’s terrific new Chronicle “Art of” book permits me the opportunity to discuss my feelings about the film in a context that doesn’t allow me to be a total downer.

The Film: Tangled has everything you’d expect in an Disney animated musical – and that’s my big problem with it.

Let me be clear: The artwork, the character animation, the settings, the visuals are all absolutely first rate. The artists did great work and it shows. Kurtti’s book is a testament to their achievements. They’ve achieved the effect of a three dimensional classic Disney animated feature here. However, the story itself is a major letdown. I found it trite, cliche, generic. The poster could just simply read “Generic Disney Animated Musical” and that would sum it up. There is nothing in this film you haven’t seen or felt before. For example, when Rapunzel sings her “I want” song, it’s to go “down there”, out of her tower – the flipside of Ariel’s “up there”, Part of Your World.

One thing struck me as new – the film seemed heavily skewed towards a younger, teenage girl audience (the Hannah Montana crowd?). I don’t recall a single Disney feature (save for Winnie The Pooh or the Disneytoon releases) that wasn’t aimed at a general (children and adult) audience. In fact, most modern animated films (Dreamworks, Pixar, Blue Sky, Sony, even Nickelodeon) are aimed as much towards adults as the kids. Not this.

The songs are unmemorable. Even The Princess and the Frog had memorable, innovative song sequences. Say what you will about P&TF, I couldn’t get some of the musical numbers out of my head after seeing the film the first time. Remember the animated opening sequence in Enchanted, which was a spoof of a generic Disney Princess film? This is that film – feature length. I truly enjoyed the visuals in Tangled, but I kept expecting the story to lift me to another place – as most great Disney and Pixar films do – but that “lift’ never came.

Did I like anything in the film? I liked the horse, Maximus. He had more personality than any of the humans and was extremely well animated. He’s the only thing I took home with me. Will you like the film? If you love all-things-Disney, you probably will. Perhaps I’m out of touch… perhaps others will explain what I’m missing. I hate being the party-pooper. I admire the craft, I can see the achievement of replicating the classic Disney “look” to dimensional CGI – but the story, the songs, the humor all seemed safe, familiar and flat. Will it make money? Yes. Because parents and young ones will enjoy a generic Disney musical, no matter how many times they’ve seen it before. Will I see it again? Yes, both to give it a second chance and to enjoy the bounty of rich visuals.

If anything, Tangled underlines the aesthetic differences between Disney Feature Animation and Pixar. The Pixar “braintrust” has a strong point of view, with a progressive approach to storytelling – and this has made Pixar the modern day leader in mass market/mainstream entertainment. The studio is floundering with its Disney choices and there seems to be no easy answer. What’s best to release under the Disney label? Classic fairy tales? Princesses? Brand franchises? CG or hand-drawn? Each new film brings answers and raises new questions.

The Art-Of Book: On the flipside, there’s no question I’m grateful to have received a review copy of Jeff Kurtti’s The Art of Disney Tangled (BTW – I know its a branding issue, but the Disney company’s new labeling of their products with a simple “Disney” logo reads wrong to me. It should be a possessive “Disney’s”. The singular “Disney” just doesn’t look or sound right… but I digress).

The “Art of” book shows, as they all do, what could have been. There are dozens of Glen Keane’s gorgeous pencil sketches, paintings and concept drawings here that point to where the film could have gone. In fact, I’m convinced this film should have been hand drawn after seeing this book. There is no question this was conceived to be a true Disney classic and a feast for the eyes, but its long, tortured, “too many cooks” history may have spoiled the meal…

In addition to Keane’s drawings, the book features numerous beautiful pieces by Disney artists Jin Kim, Lorelay Bove, Kevin Nelson, Bill Schwab, and dozens of others. I do recommend getting the book – and am looking forward to your thoughts on the film. If you’ve already seen it, tell me what you think. For those who haven’t, our traditional “talkback” post will open for your comments on November 24th.

  • According to the Glen Keane interview on AWN it was John Lasseter’s influence that greenlit and guided “Tangled”.

    So why is Pixar under Lasseter focused but Disney under Lasseter not?

  • Kylie

    …because Lasseter has a certain view of what Disney is and it’s killing them. Lasseter wants Disney to be what his past idealistic impression of it was, and it is NOT working. Rapunzel drowned by committee. The animators did all they could to save it. Beautifully animated, but whole buckets of fear and frustration made this movie. If you spoke otherwise or fought it you got taken off the project.

    • Jackson

      “Lasseter wants Disney to be what his past idealistic impression of it was”

      And you know this…HOW? What “past idealistic” version of Disney are you talking about? The one that fired him? The one that spent 20 years doing crap before they even hired him? The one that allowed animators to run the show and let backstabbing politics get in the way of making good STORIES? The awful (albeit, thankfully brief) era of don bluth?

      Animators cannot “save” a film. They are only one part of a larger film making team. The creation of films of this (big company) sort are ALWAYS “committee” driven–it is a collaborative effort, and has been since the beginning.

      • OtherDan

        Was it a committee when Walt Disney was at the helm? I think not. Walt and Roy sounds more like a partnership than a committee. Even in the late 90’s, was it a committee under Eisner? I doubt he empowered people enough for that to be the case. Maybe he was beholden to a committee-rather, a board. The way I see it, Lasseter has the stature to lead. I don’t know if Iger is in the same vein as Eisner. But, I think he would support Lasseter and the leadership who lead Pixar. When Pixar was acquired, Iger was at their mercy-Pixar at that point was what Disney should have been.

    • pappy d

      Did they really pour out all that blood, sweat & tears to create a higher standard of standardness? Is the Walt Disney Company finally just about formula or has the new management team pushed it further into the tar pit?

      Now that the Disney corporate Leviathan has lurched into the 3rd dimension, Lasseter is jealous of Pixar’s own parallel universe & his own minor Walt-ness. Pixar has always been what might have happened at Disney if the wrong people hadn’t been fired.

      • Funkybat

        “A higher standard of standardness…” I like it!

        Disney should definitely be something distinct from Pixar. In that sense, I understand Lasseter’s approach. Having both studios operate identically would be a mistake. They should have their own unique styles, both art-wise and story-wise.

        But a big part of why Disney bought Pixar was so that whatever was not working could be “fixed.” The main issue there was (and is) story. The process needed overhaul, but I am wondering how extensive that overhaul has been if Tangled came out so “standard.”

        The artistry never fell through at Disney, even in the darkest days. Princess and the Frog proved that 2D & good storytelling still work, even if it didn’t make the money that the higher-ups must have anticipated. I don’t know what steps the Pixar brain trust has taken to improve storytelling at Disney, but I know there has been a lot of effort coming our of Emeryville to change things. Maybe it’s because films like Bolt and Tangled were already well into development before anyone from Pixar got involved. I was beginning to wonder if “Rapunzel Unbraided” would ever see the light of day. That it was completed at all, and is not a mess, I consider a miracle in & of itself.

        Disney needs to take chances when it comes to story, but they need to take *their* chances, not the same kinds that Pixar might take. Disney should be able to stand on it’s own as a distinct creative entity. I think that’s Lasseter’s and everyone else’s ultimate goal. How many films it takes for Disney to get there is the question.

      • I thought that Bolt was a worthy effort, with a strong story. I also thought that Princess And The Frog was a strong B instead of the A effort it needed. However, Tangled really seems to me, at least from the trailers, to be an attempt by Disney to “do” Shrek. And Maximus? 6 words: “No sir, I didn’t like it.”

  • Rats. I was kinda looking forward to a spunky Disney heroine. Honestly, though, there hasn’t been a Disney animated feature that’s completely blown my socks off since Aladdin. That one had my jaw dropping, not least of which is because it was the first time I’d ever seen Disney poke fun at itself. They took the mick out of themselves in several places and it was such a shock compared to the Disney I’d seen before that it got belly laughs from me in the theater.

    • Funkybat

      Comparing anything animated to Aladdin is a dicey proposition. I dare say Aladdin was their best film in the entire “90s Renaissance” era. A lot more fun than Lion King, characters who were really ALIVE, dramatic & funny at the right points, and absolutely beautiful art. Aladdin is a big reason I devoted myself to becoming a professional animator.

      I don’t really expect to see anything that fantastic again, even from Pixar. Of course, the beauty of that is expectations were made to be exceeded, so who knows what the future holds.

      • Eric Graf

        Perhaps even the NEAR future.

  • That was a good, un-biased review of a movie I had low expectations for to begin with. Most Disney films get me pumped and excited, but the poster and troubled production had me lost. I was asked by my mom if I was going to take my little sister to see that movie after her confirmation, which I replied “it depends. The movie itself looks…meh.” Of all people, my mom would’ve expected me to say “Absolutely!” cause she knows I;m the biggest cartoon dork out there!

  • Scarabim

    That one-word “Disney” logo frankly makes my blood boil. It’s like the accountants running the company are saying loud and clear “This isn’t Walt’s company anymore!” And damned if they aren’t right. There is no gifted artistic vision running the place, that’s certain. No innovator, no visionary – just lawyers and bean-counters more concerned with merchandising and branding and acquiring than with actual innovative creative production. I’m not surprised that both the Pooh movie and Tangled look like safe boring throwbacks to what once was. Trouble is, what once was was a HELL of a lot better than these imitation Disney films Iger is greenlighting.

    I’ve got a bad feeling about the company right now. I just read that “Tron: Legacy”, despite the hype and the online fanboy frenzy, is tracking badly with potential audiences. If it bites it, and so does “Tangled” and “Pooh”, then what does the company have to look forward to next year? The Muppets? PUH-LEEZE. Another likely failure.

    I think that the trouble with Disney right now is that it’s either drowning in flop sweat, and so tries to play it safe, or it’s cynically trying to cash in on people’s nostalgic longing for the days of Walt. But Walt didn’t think like the current leaders of his company. He didn’t like repeating himself, he wanted to SET trends instead of follow them, and he wasn’t afraid to take risks.

    But look at Disney now. Indeed, it’s not Walt’s company any more. And I think my heart is breaking…

    • Lilo

      I have a pet theory on that ‘Disney’ logo and I’d like input from others. Maybe Scarabim is right and they really ARE trying to distance themselves from Walt. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m under the impression that other than inside the parks and through the books division Walt himself isn’t mentioned that much throughout the various parts of the company anymore? I know the last time I saw images of Walt on TV was back in the 90s when the Disney Channel still aired Walt Disney Presents and the like. Perhaps the brass at Disney is (rightly, most likely) assuming that modern audiences don’t really know anything about the man that built the studio? It’s just like how they’ve retired Mickey Mouse except for the preschool set.

      And I don’t think Tangled is going to be a hit for the simple reason that whatever fools are in charge chose to pit this against Deathly Hallows. The families with younger kids will go see it, but why would anyone else want to see Tangled when they can marvel at almost-assured epicness of DH? (And the teenage girls that are apparently this film’s target will dang sure prefer to swoon over Harry than worry about this). Folks, I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney is actively trying to kill off its animation unit. The company can certainly survive off the money Pixar brings them. And no, I don’t WANT this to happen – but it seems that even if Disney made the next ‘Lion King’ that audiences wouldn’t have the trust in the brand to go see it. Boy, how the mighty have fallen….

      • Disney’s California Adventure is being renamed Walt Disney’s California Adventure soon, in an effort to rebrand the park as a representation of Walt’s early career in golden-age Hollywood, so that’s not the issue. Also, don’t forget about Epic Mickey. I think the change is just some sort of stupid nitpicky legal thing.

      • Katella Gate

        I have heard that the lawyers are insisting on some very awkward branding verbiage,in this case the use of DISNEY with out the apostrophe-S.

        I have been told it’s to satisfy some arcane legal crap that somebody’s “just” discovered, but nobody can tell me exactly what the underlying theory is.

      • Animate ED

        I live in the UK, and a couple of months ago I heard one radio presenter talking to another, and the second presenter wasn’t even aware that Walt Disney was a real person. She thought it was just a company brand name.

    • Playing it safe is exactly what Disney is doing. It doesn’t seem to want to try new things ever since the post-Princess-merchandise era in the early 2000 was revamped, which actually saved the company at the time. It took a few risks, and while the product was fun (Emperor’s New Groove!) it didn’t seem enough to incite a decent frenzy.

      That’s when it put a halt on its animation department ‘n everything, until Pixar saved it (and feature animation in general). After that near blow I guess the company is afraid to take those innovative risks – or at least hire those who know how to bridge such risks safely.

      I can’t say I don’t blame Disney too much of going easy on its output nowadays, and still, every so often, it does a risky move (Pirates had no right to be as enjoyable as it was), but it’s focus is on its bottom line. Disappointing but understandable. This mediocrity can stay in the Netflix/HBO cue for the future, while I keep my eyes for the fresher stuff in the future.

      • OtherDan

        Kevin, I remember at the time not liking the marketing of Emperor’s New Groove. It was shallow, and the beginning of this trend toward sparseness. The movie itself, I agree was fun. Though, I still would have liked to see “Kingdom of the Sun” or whatever it was going to be called under Roger Allers. Just like I would have loved to work on the Brizzi’s version of Don Quixote or Snow Princess. Those would have been departures also-departures with substance.

    • Funkybat

      Walt had the freedom to be a risk-taker because he was both the creative head and the corporate head. If he took a risk and it bombed, he had to own that failure, but didn’t have to answer to anyone else. He was brave enough to take those risks, and the studio flirted with utter collapse at least a couple of times early on, even after getting worldwide fame for Mickey Mouse and Snow White.

      Nowadays, the closest analogy to what Walt created would be something like Tesla Motors, or maybe Apple. Disney was a “start-up” and even when they got bigger, everything was thrown into even bigger initiatives that had the possibility to sink the company. If Disneyland had been a flop, it could have sunk them, despite all their prior successes. There is no way anyone in the current Disney organization would be willing to take risks like that. Even the far more modest risk of an “innovative” film is too much for them to bear on their balance sheets. It’s all a collection of commodites to the people at the top.

      Walt Disney knew business, and knew smart risks from dumb ones, but he also was a creative person and knew how to delegate creative duties to artists who surpassed his skill level. This is something the executives of today’s creative companies pay lip service to, but with the exception of Pixar and a few others, most do not put into practice.

  • Karen

    They’ve been using the “Disney” only branding in Asia and Europe for years. It drives me nuts.

  • Hi Jerry,
    I saw Tangled at an advance screening last week. To be honest, I hadn’t followed the production and really had no expectations about the film, good or bad. That said, I think that your comments are balanced and fair.

    I agree, Maximus the horse stole the show. Likewise did the ruffians in the bar scene. Is Tangled a groundbreaking, original movie? Nope. It does have that ‘seen it before’ quality that you’re going to see in any fairy-tale based feature. But was it fun? YES!

    And yes, I’d certainly want to see Tangled again if only to catch the wealth of details and jokes that I missed the first time around.

    • Funkybat

      From what everyone on here who has seen it has said, Tangled sounds like it is exactly what I was expecting. I was expecting a pretty safe, comfortable fairy tale, with some modern twists. Disney tried going in radically new directions with their first two 3D features. Chicken Little was…well, let’s just say it was “incomplete.” Meet the Robinsons was a decent film, but something was missing. Sci-fi has never been Disney’s forte, and that’s probably why “American Dog” got turned into “Bolt,” because by then they realized that the more experimental stories combined with the 3D were not catching on with audiences.

      By using 3D, but keeping the character design and storytelling familiar, Tangled serves as a “bridge” between the 2D Disney of the 90s and the future. I’m sure future 3D projects will be more “groundbreaking” but Disney needed to ease the transition that didn’t connect with Chicken Little etc…

  • Tinfoil Mouse Ears.

    Conspiracy theory time kiddies. so lock the doors, shut the shades and gather ’round!

    I think the current relationship between Disney and Pixar works really, really well……for Pixar. They get to be the industry’s 900 pound gorilla. choosing the best release dates, and being free to take advantage of Dismay’s brand, exposure and vast global distribution channels.

    Not that Pixar hasn’t earned that. there movies make the money, win the awards and sell the merchandise.

    But there’s another animation studio. one with almost a century of history. one that is responsible for the power and influence that Disney has. If that studio ever starting producing films that rivaled Pixar’s creatively and commercially it could put the hopping lamp’s position at risk. So its within lasseter’s best interest to keep WDA the beaten down 3 legged scruffy puppy everybody loves but nobody wants to properly care for. So they can make there Princess and Pooh movies that keep WDA economically viable. but never allow them to excel and grow the way Pixar did.

    • Steve

      Lee Unkrich loved it.


      I think Tangled is going to resonate with audiences more than nostalgic animation critics expect it to…

    • Toonio

      Somebody chalk one up for Tinfoil Mouse Ears. Glad to see such a great analysis of the situation in this spin doctors world.

      Now the question is, now that Disney has created a Monster, how they are going to get rid of it.

    • Funkybat

      I would seriously doubt that Pixar is purposely hampering Disney’s artistic growth/recovery, given how most Pixar artists grew up just as big Disney geeks as many of us. Pixar will never be diminished by anything Disney does if they stay true to the principles that have made them the powerhouse they are.

      Disney and Pixar have always had a distinct difference in the feel and style of their films. Both can thrive because they are cousins more than brother and sister. I kind of wish Pixar had gone “indie” during all of their troubles with Disney, I think they are more than strong enough to stand on their own, and perhaps be even more creatively daring if they didn’t have to think about how their films would fit into the “synergies” of theme parks and merchandise. A lot of folks at Pixar are itching to tell more “grown-up” stories, and I think they should.

      Disney is somewhat constrained by what Walt and company built, but there are still plenty of stories to tell in that “realm” without going stale. Lilo & Stitch was proof enough of that. As much as I love Pixar’s films, there was something different about the 90s-era Disney films, and that spirit deserves to carry on and evolve, just as the films created 15-20 years ago evolved from the days of Uncle Walt.

      I doubt that many people at Pixar would want to “go Munchausen” on Disney, and deliberately keep them sickly and weak. It would be like slowly poisoning your own mother.

  • Tee

    Maybe the whole “Princess” thing is out of steam? How many valid variations on that story can there be?

    I think this doesn’t have enough Lasseter/Pixar in it. I remember one interview where Lasseter (I think) was talking about Pixar not wanting one of those “I Want” songs in a film, and not wanting the “I Want” scenes at all. Pixar usually avoids that kind of clumsiness, but it’s always been Disney’s stock in trade. The Zeitgeist has shifted and Disney’s still giving us Little Mermaid. I just don’t think it takes a frozen genius to put their frosty finger on what’s wrong here. Disney is time-lost and they’re clutching at the familiar for comfort. Really? TWO princess movies in two years? It’s a little on the ridiculous side.

    • theoutsider1983

      That’s the same way I feel. I believe John Lasseter knows exactly what he’s doing.

      • Michael

        I think the big difference between what comes out of Pixar and what comes out of Disney is that Pixar is very much artist-driven, has been that way since it was established, and keeping it that way was part of the deal with the Disney acquisition. Whereas John and Ed are trying to drag the Disney studio into that model after years of “suits” running the show.

        The ecosystem to support that director-driven model isn’t there yet, and unfortunately it’s a hideously tautological situation, because is won’t ever be there unless they start hitting them out of the park and generate the revenues to justify building the ecosystem, but without the ecosystem they can’t hit them out of the park, etc., etc.

    • Sorry Charlie

      Sorry, but John Lasseter doesn’t know what he’s doing. He thinks he does, but really, truly doesn’t. What did Walt accomplish? Books and books worth of amazingly creative and innovative things. John Lasseter’s career can be summed up in one sentence… “He made Toy Story”. WAY too much praising of that 900 lb gorilla. Open your eyes, look at the company’s history and be honest with yourself.

      • Tee

        A plus 10 trolling there. Way to go. I love that you can so casually dismiss most of the accomplishments of the man who directed or co-directed and cowrote the films that put Pixar on the map, including Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Cars (say what you will but it was a huge success and kids love it) and A Bug’s Life, and under whose guidance Pixar flourished from it’s creation to the present day. Brilliant trollery.

      • The Gee

        Oh, good gravy!
        Walt died decades ago. The industry has matured since then and has changed since then. Not coincidentally, so has the studio.

        Pixar, Dreamworks, anime, the varieties of tv animation and everything else reflects just how much has changed since Walt died. Disney is Disney, a multi-national media conglomerate. You can wish to think that every animated flick that is put out is cynically blessed with Walt’s wink and a smile but an animated feature put out by Disney hasn’t gotten that rubber stamp since the 60s.

        And, if you want that, they re-issue that with every so often.

        So, sorry, Sorry Charlie, while you may be going with the starting point that Lasseter believes his or is somehow charged with being the heir apparent of Walt, he probably has no illusions of along those lines.

    • Jabberwocky

      Doesn’t matter if the story itself is unoriginal. Disney’s “Princess” line of merchandise makes bucketloads of money every year. Princess & the Frog was basically just a marketing move to get a black princess into that line of toys/merch. It was still a decent movie though. Best Disney movie ever? No, but still enjoyable, and it had some good songs. I’m not surprised at all that they’d put out another princess film. They’ll still make tons of money off of it and honestly, while I’ve only seen a couple trailers, it didn’t look that terrible.

      If Disney is re-using formulas, I’m not that bothered. Most of the classic Disney movies of the 90’s were all built on the same musical formula, but they were still great movies. As long as they are not making those god-awful direct-to-video sequels anymore, I can live with formula that is incredibly animated, and Tangled does look to have very smooth animation.

      After all, it’s not like there isn’t a market. Avatar had cardboard characters and a very tired plot, but it still made stupid amounts of money and was entertaining despite the cliche.

  • Trevor

    I saw an advanced screening also and I wouldn’t be quite so harsh as you. All of the kids in my theater absolutely loved it, and the things I was looking out for as an animator didn’t upset me. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of “boy” moments to balance out the princess stuff.

    I will agree, none of the songs are memorable and, unless it’s a comedic song, they felt forced and didn’t add anything that normal dialog could have.

    What bothered me was how much the movie is COMPLETELY different than the trailers. I was turned off in the trailers to see that her hair was like little arms she could control (though that was some of the best stuff animated in the trailer), but none of that is in the final film.

  • Marc Baker

    Your comments on this film are insightful, and confirm my worst fears regarding ‘Tangled’. You would think that Disney would learn from Pixar’s methods on making quality animated films, and yet, all they do is go back to the same old empty well of ideas just to stay in safe, financial waters. God forbid Disney try to follow Pixar’s methods, and take risks. Instead, we get nothing but tired old ‘princess’ movies, manufacture ‘tween idols’, and rehashes of ‘kiddie fare’. I also agree that Iger is going out of his way to make sure this isn’t Walt’s company. Like how the just call themselves just Disney, and not add in the apostrophe s next to their latest projects. And while Lasseter means well, he seems to miss a few of the principals that made Pixar successful. If this fails, along with ‘Tron’, I’m not holding much hope for their Muppet revival, and I’m still in ‘wait, and see’ mode with their plans for Marvel.

    • d.harry

      But Marc, how CAN Disney be bold and try what you’re saying IF Pixar is in control of Disney’s destiny?? I have many friends who can’t even get in to pitch original ideas anymore! It’s a closed set these days, per Pixar instructions.

      • The Brewmasters

        d.harry – Please be advised that your future posts will be deleted if you continue to use a non-working email address.

      • d. harry

        Hmmmm. Well, try the one attached here! (please don’t pass it on to Disney or Pixar though!!)

  • It is like they have the best chefs (artists) in the world and are being forced to cook hotdogs. They should never let the Disney legacy get in the way of them telling a good story.

    • purin

      Not only that, I think they’re really believing their own stereotypes when it comes to exactly what that legacy is. Even the movies from the 90s that “brought back” Disney were totally different from the old ones. What, really, did they have in common other than the high production quality and storytelling?

      (Someone who talks to animals? Well, that’s kind of minor and generic, really.)

  • Cornwallis

    i wish that some day they would put out dvds of these movies in progress before they got “fixed” (specifically emperor’s new groove, bolt and now tangled)… geez it’s so sad to have had Glen Keane playing with computers for all these years… just imagine if they just let him sit at his animation desk and draw whatever the hell he wanted for all this time…. thanks mr. lassetter! next winnie the pooh sequel, then what? maybe get glen keane to be lead animator for the lamp in a new version of “Lady and the Lamp” expanded into a 3d computer animated feature film.

  • Jerry, I’m surprised that you didn’t mention Glean Keane’s daughter’s work that was featured in the book. Claire Keane’s work is exceptional. I was very impressed by her.

    By the way, the official title of the book is “The Art of Tangled.” The “Disney” part is just something that’s slapped on, like a logo.

  • (Face slap) For crying out loud. The Pixar Braintrust RUNS this place. It’s THEIR fault!!!
    The direction that DIsney Feature SHOULD go is where we STARTED to go in the early 00s with Lilo and Stitch. Innovative unique stories with a personal point of view. We started that direction, and then we were stopped in our tracks,…but David Stainton and his ilk. At that point, I left the studio.
    Part of the problem is that massive legacy, the other part is that they STILL seem to be trying to make movies for their “Core Audience”. That was a popular buzzword back when I was there. “We can’t alienate our CORE AUDIENCE”. I finally said at some meeting or retreat with a bunch of bigwigs “If you keep trying to figure out what that mythical CORE AUDIENCE wants, then you are going to be playing to a rapidly shrinking room”.
    Anyone left in that room? Anyone? ECHO!!!

    The fix is simple, Disney: take a chance, make some simple, compelling, unique family movies.
    Forget the fucking fairy tales, forget the fucking princess bullshit and for FUCK’S SAKE STOP MAKING MUSICALS!!!
    Look for the next Lilo and Stitch. Yes, you managed to alienate the guy who created THAT franchise, so turn to the people you have left. I’m sure ONE of them is nurturing a little gem of a story that would make a GREAT movie.
    Go ask ’em. Better hurry, before you bankrupt the company.

    • Mac

      I’ve got to agree. I’m just fan, but have been very disappointed with Disney animation sine Lasseter took over and I naively expected a new era of great Disney animated films. Lilo and Stitch is still the best ‘recent’ Dinsey film and it’s already 8 years old.

    • Grey

      It was john’s idea for this to be a musical~

    • Mark

      Lilo & Stitch was one of the best things Disney Studios has made in a long time. And I agree, it’s because it had a personal point of view.

      I don’t agree with stopping the musicals and princess films… but I totally agree they should stop setting out to make that kind of movie. A movie should become a musical because that’s how that story needs to be told, not because the studio wants to make a musical.

    • But to ignore that legacy would be foolish.

      • Don’t ignore it, but stop interpreting it in such incredibly stupid ways.
        “Great movies, Great Stories for an audience of 6 to 106.” Keep it that simple.

    • OtherDan

      You just reminded me of a thought I had the other day. “The Brain Trust”: Lasseter, Catmul, Doctor, Stanton, Bird, Jobs…So, what happens when they get old? They are all about the same age. I don’t know of anyone there of the younger generation that could carry the torch in the same manner. I mean, they don’t seam to have the charisma or reputation that those people do. So, will Pixar have that same bad transitionary period that Disney did in the late 70’s? The big difference being Walt’s influence. It was a pretty singular influence that formed the culture that the 9 Old Men carried though. I don’t see Pixar having the same legacy.

  • elan

    You know, you’re saying that the movie is a “regular Disney musical” and “familiar” as if that’s a bad thing. I think audiences actually WANT that. People wanted it with Princess and the Frog, but that just wasnt a good movie.

    Most of the negative buzz I hear is “Oh, it looks like Shrek!? Why cant Disney make classic films again??” Now that people are finding out that its actually a classic musical, they are pleasantly surprised.

    I guess we’ll see how it does, but Jerry, you might be out of touch. :)

    • mickhyperion

      I agree completely with the part about looking like Shrek and THAT being the real problem here. I don’t see the “dreaded” classic Disney in the trailers at all. I see smirky, smarmy, ‘tudey BULLSHIT whether it’s singing, dancing fairy princesses or not. I mean, come on, “the smolder”???? Arrogance and masturbatory ego is the domain of Dreamworks and Sony, not Disney. NOTHING about this movie says Disney to me… and certainly not Disney of old. The problem I see is Disney once again failing by trying to move away from that and attempting to be hip and trendy. I’m all for them trying new approaches to storytelling and getting off the princesses and stuffed animals, but I doubt the problem here is one of rehash. I think it’s about bad writing, bad dialogue, bad music, and a simple lack of QUALITY. Yes, it looks great, but the unfortunate animators are once again caught in the crossfire and will most likely take the blame for creative decisions made by a company led by accountants and marketers prancing around as CEO and executives, fancying themselves dream makers and frankly fucking things up at every turn. Disney no longer knows how to lead or create anything of any substance, only how to play catch up and cash in.

      • Tee

        Yes, but you know the “Dreamworks” smirk image that has been rolling around the internet for the last couple of years? Watch The Little Mermaid again and count how many times you see that kind of ‘tude in the characters’ faces. Watch Hercules or Tarzan or Beauty and the Beast and you’ll see the same. The Dreamworks/Shrek ‘tude thing runs rampant in the Disney stuff too. Tangled is clearly the Disney studios’ attempt to make a Shrek, and for obvious commercial reasons. The real “out there” sensibilities that seem to have driven the Shrek phenomenon have been stifled at Disney, for better or worse, so that any attempt to make a more (in their minds) modern film gives us all of the rolling eyes and shrugs but none of the anarchic energy people seem to respond to.

        Lilo and Stitch had the real deal. Quirky charm and undeniable energy. It’s possible that Lasseter’s groupthink could not understand Chris Sanders vision for American Dog, and his attempts to control that film are to blame for making it the WTF? it would eventually become. You either follow a creator’s vision or you allow it to die. There is no middle ground there. Tangled might be a mess (I don’t know yet, but I’m going on Jerry’s word) and if it is, the “table writing” that has worked at Pixar might be solely to blame.

        I just realized that the removal of the directors of Ratatouielle, Cars 2 and Brave all point to the removal of creators from their own projects or the re-establishment of Lasseter controlling his own creation. All of them superimpose Lasseter’s decision making over that of the director on board. Pixar and Lasseter, having embraced the creation-by-committee work method may now find it impossible to do anything else. Naturally Lasseter would bring that into Disney proper, since it’s all he knows.

        Now the whole Chris Sanders thing makes sense to me, and it would explain the difficulties people are having pitching ideas from outside the company.

      • Ugh

        Yet, How to Train Your Dragon was full of ‘tude as well, but we all loved that film.

        Its not simple, its not all cut and dry. Filmmaking is a difficult business, and sometimes movies get made well, and sometimes they dont. Sometimes directors work out, sometimes they dont. All everyone is doing is armchair quarterbacking, and its so annoying to read.

    • Yes it was.

  • Matt D

    I’m all for innovation and the like… but I’m with elan. I know mostly everyone on here… the artist types… would rather see Disney make something more risky and the like. And it seems as if no one realizes there are a TON of people out there just BEGGING for a classic, fairy tale, broadway musical, princess, DISNEY movie. That’s what people grow up on. When it comes down to it, those are the animated movies that most people like best.

    Like someone said, people will keep going back to see that same, cliche, Disney movie over and over and over again, no matter how many times they’ve seen it. And I, for one, am glad to be a part of the group that is happy either way.

    What irks me is that, for months with all the good reviews coming in for Tangled from pre screenings, people come online and give it the “YEAH! Go Tangled! So excited!” But as soon as a review that is a little more on the negative side surfaces (in a completely honest way, not a “bash on Tangled” way), everyone gets all up in arms and feels like they have to defend WDAS.

    This is Jerry’s opinion, everyone. I can’t make an opinion yet myself, and so in the meantime I appreciate being able to read honest, unbiased reviews like this. But I’m able to keep in mind that it IS one person’s opinion. No need to get nervous.

    • Lala-Marin

      Last year, I watched The Lion KIng about once a week. That is not an exageration. At least once a week, I sat down, popped in my old VHS, and watched it from start to finish. I don’t think there are very many people who would disagree with its standing as one of (arguably the) best films of all time. Is it an animated musical? Yes. Does that detract from it in any way? Certainly not.

      What this comes down to is that when Disney is in its top form, there really is nothing better, but it’s been a long time since the mouse brought its A-game. Maybe Rapunzel (I will not call it anything else) is a good movie, maybe it isn’t. We’ll all know in a little over a week, and until then, everyone should stop hitting the panic button.

      On another note, pitting this movie against the penultimate Harry Potter film? Either Disney has a secret weapon, or someone in marketing needs to be fired.

  • John

    I want original stories not rehash old Disney, Disney please make good films! John Sanford is right! Just make original films that todays audience wants, not that just fit the Disney brand!

  • Jeff Kurtti

    I have this nutty idea that those of you who have not seen the movie should actually see it before you express your disappointment, frustration, anger and etc. based on a trailer or what you have heard. Manage your expectations and go see the movie, then let it do what it does or doesn’t for you based on its own merits or lack of.

    • Mark

      I’m actually looking forward to seeing it. I love Disney musicals. And when I hear the music is more like Enchanted than The Princess and the Frog, I just think “Thank God!”

    • Jen

      Definitely! It looks like the movie that’s been MARKETED and the movie that’s actually opening next week are two very different beasts.

      I’ve scoffed at the Disney musical formula before, but obviously the eight-year-old girl in me doesn’t care because Alan Menken’s soundtrack and the clips I’ve seen today had me wiggling in my seat in glee! :P

  • Karen

    Disney didn’t make “broadway” variety musicals until the late 1980’s. Most of Disney’s films with songs would hardly be classified as “musicals,” but more stories with songs (Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Jungle Book). Most people seem to prefer this kind.

    • FB

      Okay, not “broadway” style musicals, but you wouldnt qualify Jungle Book or Cinderella as musicals?

    • Mac

      Yes! I don’t have a problem with Disney making musical films – songs are something people associate with Disney and people want them (as long as they’re good and fit), but the same kind of musical has been made so many times! It’s embarrassing that the type of songs even have names now, the ‘I want’ song- ugh! Songs and music have been weaved into Disney cartoons, films, theme parks, attractions in many different ways but should be included as a way enhance the story and entertainment and not stuck in as an obligation to make it ‘Disney’.

  • Captain Hollywood

    (Possibly Spoilery) I saw the movie this week and I have to disagree with a few things that Jerry mentions… yes- if you summarize the movie in one lump- it’s a token Disney fairy tale movie, but I actually found Rapunzel to be one of the more appealing characters Disney has put out in quite some time. Perhaps it’s due to Glen Keane and his crew’s spectacular animation of the characters, but I found it to be one of the most visually pleasing animated films to come out in some time. The art of book confirms it. Anyway- unlike the Princess and the Frog, I actually found myself caring about these characters… even though when all is said and done you know they’re going to live happily ever after in token Disney fairy tale fashion. My only complaint would be to give the film’s villain a little more substance in terms of what fuels her desire to use Rapunzel. I actually think the traditional Disney audience is going to enjoy this film a lot, no matter how much the Disney marketing skews it to seem like a hip Dreamworks film. Yes, I would love to see Disney Animation Studios make more unique films too, but in terms of having another benchmark animated fairy tale, in my opinion Tangled fits on the shelf with the other films they’ve done quite well.

  • Henry

    Give’em a break, it’s a well-executed traditional Disney fairy tale animated feature–done in CG. With a look and a quality of animation in step with the best of the hand drawn fare. That’s not enough for you?

    That’s an accomplishment in itself. And it’s a first; no one’s done an earnest fairy tale musical in CG yet, and as that Tangled is a rousing success.

  • Jim

    This post makes me sad.

  • Marc Baker

    Well, D.Harry, What you’ve said gives me the impression that Pixar seems to run Disney itself, and Disney either doesn’t know how thrive on it’s own without playing it safe. Yet, it’s almost as if Pixar runs Disney no differently than they do. However, Pixar doesn’t run Disney Channel. I doubt that Lasseter would want to create the next ‘Hanna Montana’. Anyway, I think John Sanford makes an excellent point about how Disney is so concerned about their image, and legacy that it holds them back from doing anything new, fresh, and innovative. I mean after a while, the princess/musical/fairy tale formula gets old after a while, and the whole ‘Shrek’ formula has been beaten to the ground way too many times by other studios hoping to become the next ‘Shrek’. (Boy, is that a mentality that needs to die!) Nothing wrong with the tried, and true, but variety is the spice of life. (So i’ve heard.)

  • Steven M.

    Disney really needs to stop rehashing everything they’ve done before and grow the balls to experiment, but thats unlikely because Lasseter will continue to bog Disney down with his naive view of the company.

    • whippersnapper

      Naive? Really?? He worked for the company in his twenties, helped found a highly successful animation company that ended up becoming a part of Disney, AND was experienced enough that the Disney company took him on as chief creative officer. He’s not a freaking doe-eyed animation student, he’s been in the business for years and years. You don’t have to agree with everything he’s done since coming back to Disney (I know I don’t), but to say he’s “naive” about the place is completely stupid.

  • Guz

    I didn’t see it yet, but I’m in just for the animation/fx/details/modeling than for the story. It already felt “generic” in the trailers and teasers…

  • Despite the genericness, I’m still really looking forward to seeing it for the craft. The ‘aimed for young teenage girls’ thing comes across a bit in the trailers, but so does that bouncy, malleable quality of the characters that I’d still like to experience on the big screen! If it gets too overwhelming I’ll just plug my ears I guess.

  • Scarabim

    Whatever happened to the Snow Queen movie? The Hans Christian Anderson story has tantalizing possibilities for an animated film, especially if it’s rendered in *lavish* 2D (as opposed to the smooth but soulless animation in “Princess and the Frog”. Come on, Disney, devote some time to making an eye-popping 2D film! If it could be done in the days of Sleeping Beauty, it could be done today). Plus, the story has a great villainess, a great unconventional and resourceful heroine, a wonderful array of quirky characters, a meaningful quest, and lots of heart. I’m surprised no movie studio has taken up the story in modern times (I know a beautiful Russian film was made of it, but that was a long time ago). This story seems a natural for Disney. Why was it shelved?

    • I’d like to know the same thing. I only found out the project had been in the works after it was shelved. It made me very, very, very, very sad.

    • “as opposed to the smooth but soulless animation in “Princess and the Frog”.”

      The animation in PATF is anything BUT souless. Especially on Dr Faciler’s musical number.

      Funny how the only soul-sucking guy in the movie has the liveliest animation.

    • greg m.

      Pixar should let Eggman Direct his version of the Snow Queen!! He’d do a fantastic job!!

  • These days, generic means classic. If a movie is generic, you can bet it will be hailed as a “classic”, or if a movie bills itself as being ” a classic story”, you can bet on it being pretty generic.

  • Eric Graf

    I gotta say, Jerry, I’m surprised.

    I knew there would be some (deserved) complaining about Tangled being a rehash, but I think your review throws this way out of proportion, and does a great disservice to a movie that most visitors to the Brew would LOVE. It looks to me like you’re so disappointed in what it isn’t, that you’re failing to appreciate what it is – a near-flawless crowd-pleaser of a DISNEY movie. Yes, it is a princess musical. One of the best ones they’ve ever done. Safe, familiar, and absolutely brilliant. That’s what Tangled is, and I think that third one is what you missed.

    If they can get enough people in the seats (a pretty big if), I guarantee word of mouth will make Tangled a smashing success.

    Everybody … if Jerry has you worried that maybe Tangled isn’t going to be that great, please note that, other than former and current employees of Disney, EVERY comment above by someone who has actually SEEN Tangled is defending it. Every. Single. One. Keep this in mind when making your Thanksgiving weekend movie viewing plans.

    Just to recap – and yes, I’ve seen it too:

    (1) NOT Shrek. NOT snarky. NOT generic. No Pink music. No octo-hair.

    (2) Classic Disney fairy tale with a wonderful score that’s better than P&tF (Jerry and I will just have to disagree on that one).

    (3) VERY involving story, and an ending that will have audiences wiping tears off their 3D specs just like they did in Toy Story 3.

    (4) Glorious art direction, and some of the best CGI character animation you’ve ever seen.

    (5) Tons of brilliantly executed slapstick and action sequences to keep the boys happy.

    (6) Mother Gothel. Best Disney villain in YEARS.

    (7) So far a grand total of one truly negative review in the known universe. Yes, it IS from Jerry Beck, and it is a supportable opinion, but it’s in a VERY small minority.

    Megan Lynch, Marc Baker, tedzey, Scarabim, Lilo, Tinfoil Mouse Ears, Tunio, Tee, Michael, The Gee, Jacob, purin, Mack, mickhyperion, John, FB, Jim, Steven M, Guz and everybody else … PLEASE don’t let this review stop you from going to see Tangled in a theater. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Possibly even floored. Reports of Disney’s death are greatly exaggerated.

    (PS – I am not in any way connected to Disney. I saw a test screening.)

    • lola

      I saw an early screening of this as well. I think I fell asleep half way through.

      God yes, the visuals were stunning and gorgeous as always. I love the way Maximus was designed and animated, I loved watching everything, move but lord was the story dull. I kept looking at my cellphone to see how much time was left before the thing was finished.

      • Eric Graf

        I’m skeptical that anyone could fall asleep during the first half of Tangled, even if they were bored to tears. But if you haven’t seen the end of Tangled, then you have not seen Tangled.

        And having been in the minority opinion many a time myself, I did not intend to imply that Jerry’s review wasn’t a valid one. I just wanted to point out that it *was* a minority opinion, so that Cartoon Brew readers don’t miss Tangled because of it!

    • Geneva

      Plenty of what you’re saying is perfectly valid, but can I just throw it out there that I hate the logic that majority opinions can never be tasteless, and minority negative opinions aren’t necessarily just cranky?

    • I saw a preview screening this weekend. I was pleasantly surprised because I was starting to feel very skeptical after the trailers for it.

      I agree with all of your points. Yes, it does very much feel like a throwback to “classic” Disney; I kept comparing it to the hits in the 90’s. It isn’t the giant leap forward in animation (and story-telling) that some might want, but I think it was great, visually stunning and very entertaining.

    • Thank you. May I start by saying, being British I can’t see the film till February, but I am getting a bit sick of the amount of negativity this movie has received. For months to years now I have read nothing but bashing about this movie. Do you think the Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast would have been the success they were if people kept saying, oh another fairytale, they done nothing different, it’s a musical, blah, blah, blah.

      You will never enjoy a movie going in with such negativity. Creativity is created by a nurturing environment which all the fans could help. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”

  • pheslaki

    You know why this movie will likely do pretty well? Because, shockingly, people have continued to give birth to little girls. The Little Mermaid formula may seem trite and old hat to use geezers (especially us male geezers), but there’s always going to be a new audience springing up. I’m not saying every little girl likes this sort of thing, or only little girls do, but if that’s the audience they’re aiming at, then good for them. It’s there.

    • Rubber Chicken Circuit

      It’s there.

      And while it sells toys, it’s not big enough to create blockbusters. And pandering to it with a combination of babyish and (sexist) girlish stereotypes turns every other audience away from the movie—and your brand, if you do it often enough.

      Eventually you can’t even save yourself by making movies that don’t fit the stereotype. Once you go Barbie, you never go back.

  • Connie Pinko

    I want to see this film just for the horse. The design and animation of the characters looks wonderful, but the horse looks especially cool.

  • I wanted to see the movie just to stare at Rapunzel’s feet.

  • tony mccarson

    this film still MUST have a better name!
    or MUST have the old name “rapunzel” back!

  • Evelyn


    Do you have a source for “Walt Disney’s California Adventure”? For all I know in recent times the apostrophe in the name has been dropped and is now being called “Disney California Adventure. Just like everything else these days; Disney Tangled, Disney Shake It Up (new Disney Channel show)

    Sure they are retheming to Hollywood during Walt’s arrival, but I didn’t hear of Walt being attached to the name.

    • You’re absolutely right; I guess I mixed old rumors of adding the “Walt” together with the recent official news of the name change in my head. Google quickly told me how wrong I was. I’m so embarrassed!

      Anyway, well, that’s stupid, and annoying. I sure hope I don’t have to start saying “Disney Hollywood Studios” soon too.

      But I hope the point still stands, that this doesn’t mean the company is trying to pull away from Walt’s history. To me, it seems like they’re trying to push the nostalgia factor harder every year.

  • Jackson

    After the awful or weak efforts of of Pocahontas, Hunchback, Lilo and Stitch, Treasure Planet, Atlantis, That dumb cow movie, Chicken Little, Wilbur Robinson, Bolt and Princess/Frog, this cartoon better be good. Disney’s got ONE LAST shot with me.

    • Funkybat

      Sounds like you didn’t like much of anything Disney has done in the past 15 years! I would agree with you on Chicken Little and the “cow movie” but most of the others you mentioned were either decent or downright classic, IMHO.

      Lilo and Stitch is probably the best thing to come out of Disney Feature since the Lion King. Instant classic. Princess and the Frog was a very good “throwback” to the early 90s era, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it had that “Disney Magic” that had been missing for a while. Two of the showings I went to had audience members cheering and applauding in the theater, both at the end & at certain critical moments. I hadn’t seen that happen since Lion King.

      The others you list had their moments, as well as some terrific artistry. I honestly can’t remember a lot of the story of Hunchback, but there was some bee-youtiful animation in there. Atlantis is a fun if flawed film, one that at least took chances.

      Not every chance pays off, but I would say that even worse than failed risks would be a comfortable middle-of-the-road approach to filmmaking. Some people seem to feel P&tF and Tangled represent that. I would agree only if the next 2-3 movies out of Disney hew to that mold. Somehow, I doubt that will happen with Lasseter and Co. overseeing things. I think these last two films are just Disney getting “rebooted” and finding their footing by sticking to what’s considered “classic.” I don’t mind at all provided we see new chances being taken in the future.

    • What you talking about Lilo and Stitch was great!

  • A fantastically late reply but I’ll try my best here.

    To all the folks that have issues with the types of films that Disney has been making lately:

    Hollywood has never, ever put out a truly revolutionary movie in terms of story or plot. When studios cough up $100,000,000+ (heck, if they cough up $500,000) for a film, they want to be darn sure they’re going to get that back with change. If that means playing within the confines of the back yard, that’s where they’ll stay.

    Disney is no exception and Pixar is certainly not an exception. Sure, their films may be lauded for taking “risks” with the story but in the grand scheme of things, anything Pixar has put out thus far is still well within the expectations of the cinema-going audience. What makes their films stand out is that they are animated, nothing more.

    When it comes to Disney proper, they too are a Hollywood studio. They are going to play it as safe as they can, especially in today’s economy. Is that a good thing? Of course not! Treading over the same ground again and again means you will eventually paint yourself into a corner.

    I personally hope that I enjoy Tangled. Would I like to see a film with series of strong themes and stories that differs from the rest of the crowd? Sure, that’s what I hope for in any movie I go to see. I can live with seeing something that covers similar territory as long as it’s done well. Does it pain me to see a great company falter? Absolutely.

    Walt Disney was well aware that innovation and experimentation had to be the driving force behind an entertainment company. He was willing to take risks if he thought they would help grow the company. Although he was not above flogging a horse until it died either, as long as it made him money.

    The influence of Walt died with Roy E. It’s sad to say and I hate to say it, but that’s the truth. The company has turned a corner and as fans, we need to realise that it won’t be the same. The sooner we accept that and move on, the better.

  • joe micallef

    I think this movie will do well with the Hannah Montana crowd too. CG is so focused on boys, and the male man/child demographic… tween age girls deserve some animation goodness too! (Geeeshhh… I just realized I have no idea what I’m talking about… I need to lay off the pumpkin lattes)

  • Care Bear

    Why blog about things you don’t care about. I mean this industry isn’t going to change. This blog will not change the industry. Why not just try to do something constructive like taking animation films that you found to be interesting and blog about those?

  • Jackson

    “What makes their films stand out is that they are animated, nothing more.”

    Hardly. Pixar’s stories are outstanding, and the attention paid to their craft stand heads above most studios, especially live action ones. I don’t “love” every one of their films, but they’ve made their share of great ones.

    • Yes, sorry, I should have qualified that statement a bit better. I totally agree that Pixar makes great movies. We should all be thankful that they took it upon themselves to raise the bar for animated films.

      My point was that if you look at their films in light of every other film ever made, they are still easily classifiable as very mainstream, very Hollywood fare.

      What I was getting at was that some people see the likes of the montage in UP and proclaim it as the best thing in movie-making since Al Jolson, even though dozens, if not hundreds, of [live-action] films have already covered similar ground.

      • Aul

        I was more to the impression that pretty much most, if not all of their films rely on some sort of chase scene to be in the plot.
        They make good stories, but they tread down well-worn paths to do so. I don’t think there are many original stories. Sure there are inklings, but even the most ‘innovative’ tale tends to re-tread old ground to be somewhat familiar. Or else we just get a feeling of things being really random. Or I could be wrong, it’s just something I muse from time to time.
        Honestly I think something great in a story involves a character losing something and having to fight to earn it back or gain something else. That’s a character arc in a way I think.

  • Even though I think Disney animation has some big problems, I am a little baffled how one of the first thing to be blamed is Pixar. Why should we think that Pixar is bringing Disney down? Pixar has proven themselves story wise and has come out with some films that rival the best of Old Disney animation. It makes little sense that John Lasseter is letting Pixar be director driven and Disney be executive driven.

    I think the problem is that Disney had gotten lost in their legacy. Rather then what Pixar seems to do in trusting that the audience can handle something new, Disney seems to just be repeating stories they know have been successful in the past. This shows a lack of confidence, that is more likely to be coming from top executives who do not have a successful background in the art of animation. In my opinion that does not fit the mold of John Lasseter or any leader coming from Pixar.

    • …”It makes little sense that John Lasseter is letting Pixar be director driven and Disney be executive driven.” Pixar director driven? See previous story regarding Brenda Chapman. Pixar being a director driven studio is a myth, and Disney is as executive ridden as it has been since Walt died.

      “I think the problem is that Disney had gotten lost in their legacy” Absolutely, and part of the problem is that one can agree on just what that legacy is. Some think it’s princess movies, others musicals and still another group thinks it’s fairy tales.
      The true legacy is great animation, great storytelling, great characters for an audience of 6 to 106. Period.

      “This shows a lack of confidence, that is more likely to be coming from top executives …” Stop right there, the top execs are John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, and yes, they do have a lack of confidence.

      “In my opinion that does not fit the mold of John Lasseter or any leader coming from Pixar.” You have a right to that opinion, and that is publicly what JL likes to present, but I’m afraid it isn’t so. The proof is in the movies.

      • John let me explain why it is hard for me to believe your story that 1. Disney is being forced to do “traditional, musical, Disney fairytails” by John Lasseter and Ed Catmull and 2. Pixar really is not a directors driven studio.

        Point 1. John Lasseter was first fired from Disney because he was pushing them in a knew non-traditional style of making Disney animated films. When John got to Pixar he and the rest of his friends, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft, wanted to make a animated film that went against the traditional Disney story style. Thus they created a film that was NOT a fairytale, musical, or traditional oriented story in the movie Toy Story. Realize that when Toy Story was being made nobody knew whether it was going to work or not. Toy Story was a gutsy risk that ended up paying off for John and the rest of the crew.

        Then after John and Ed were successful with Toy Story, A Bugs Life, and Toy Story 2, they asked the director Brad Bird to come on board and create one of his original ideas. It looked kind of stupid for John and Ed to hire Brad, because his last film “The Iron Giant” had just failed in the box office. Brad Bird’s film The Incredibles was also much different from anything Pixar had brought into production before. However John and the rest of the crew still allowed Brad to create his movie and John and Ed saw again that going against the traditional mold could be a success.

        So with those as just a few examples of how both John Lasseter and Ed Catmull were willing to take risks in the past that clearly were successful, it is hard to believe you when you say John and Ed have suddenly gotten cold feet and are no longer confident in taking risks. You are going against their personal history on how they first became successful.

        Now on to point 2. Only a stupid executive would give a director complete control over a several hundred million $ project. Listening to Ed Catmull and John Lasseter speak it seems obvious that they are not willing to give a Director complete control on a film even when they feel the story is failing. However, I do believe that when someone like Brenda Chapman was the Director of the movie Brave, John and Ed did gave her complete control on what was put into the film and what was not. This is why I think Pixar is called a “director driven studio“.

        It is a big debate to how much of a leash the directors have. There is the possibility that the director has such a short leash that they could hardly call themselves the “director” or say that they are really “in charge“. However, this does not seem to ring true for Pixar‘s directors. You could claim that all the interviews that Lee Ulkrich, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Brad Bird, have given to the public are “fake”. I personally think that most of what those directors say in public is true. And when Lee, Andrew, Pete, and Brad say that Pixar is “Director Driven”, they mean it. Why would Brad put a hold on his personal projects to come back to Pixar to do Ratatoullie, if he thought he had no freedom? Why would Pete Docter, Lee Ulkrich, and Andrew Stanton direct numerous films for Pixar if they thought they had no control? They are successful enough to leave and not look back, why don’t they?

        I think Pixar is much more team oriented then you give them credit for. Pixar has diffidently shown if you are not willing to work with the team, you will not be working at Pixar (or at least “in charge at Pixar). I can understand Brenda Chapman’s need to protect her story, but if she was not willing to listen to those proven story artists who are trying to help her, she should have been demoted. The “Brain Trust” has proven through out the last 11 Pixar features that they want to create the best story possible. The “Brain Trust” has also proven that they are not tied down by what is known to be “marketable” in Hollywood. Wall-E, Rattatullie, and Up were all not supposed to work for the typical Hollywood audience. However, Pixar still created and were successful both publicly and critically with those films.

        You John, are telling me that John Lasseter and Ed Catmull are the problems for Disney because they are afraid and are playing it safe, even though that has not been their mentality in the past. You are saying that Pixar is not a Director Driven studio even though many of the directors at Pixar have publicly said and proven otherwise. Personally I agree with you that Disney has a problem. I just think it has less to do with proven leaders such as “The Brain Trust”, John Lasseter, and Ed Catmull, and more to do with non-artists trying to exhort control such as Bob Iger. I also think that Disney is a broken studio trying to find its footing again and that will take time.

      • frominsidethehat

        Hey jacob- it was john lasseter decision to make tangled in to a musical..it was a mandate after glen stepped down.. and also to cut the” dark” parts out because it wouldn’t fit with disney’s “core” audience

      • The fat has been cut

        Tangled is the last of the “leftover” films from the Eisner era.

        The next 4 animated films Disney is working on are all new and original concepts, approved by Lasseter (so dont expect any “start-overs,” though, who knows)

        And there arent any princess musicals. Tangled is the last. Tangled will be a technical and artistic launch-pad for future animated films at the studio.

      • @ frominsidethehat:

        If that is true, it is a big bummer. I wish he would remember what made Pixar so unique and successful when they first got started. Also, Walt Disney was not the kind of guy to shy away from dark elements in stories, so he could satisfy his “core audience”. John has studied Walt enough to know that. It is too bad he is concentrated on the Disney “core audience” rather then the actual visionary behind Disney.

  • Mark Sonntag

    Glen Keane came out to Disneytoons Studios in Sydney back in 2003 and was talking about the project that became Tangled. Both Princess and the Frog and Tangled were left overs of the Eisner years so to be fair creative changes would happen once management changed.

    I guess we need to see what emerges from the studio that started out under the new management, in other words I think it is too early to judge.

  • NateCook

    Here’s what I’ve gathered from these comments: nobody knows the answer. And I think that part of the problem is nobody knows what the problem is.

    A. It seems like, even on here, there’s a portion who think the problem is Disney’s being too derivative and clinging to its ‘legacy’, and there’s a portion who think the problem is it’s not putting enough faith in itself.

    B. Then there’s even the argument over who’s actually in charge of the animation. Is it Lasseter and his Pixar brain trust? If it is, is that a bad thing? If not, then who is it? Is it the easy-to-blame ‘suits’?

    C. Nobody can even agree on where this problem came from in the first place. Was it a reaction against the underwhelming films of the aughts, or was it before that? Are princess films part of the problem? Has Disney ruined its brand for good?

    D. What should Disney’s intended audience be? Should they try to go after Pixar’s market – that is, everybody? Or should they stick with a market (whatever that market is) that someone above called the ‘Core’ audience? Is Disney going after people that have grown up on Disney films, and if so, should they broaden their horizons?

    E. Finally, where does Tangled fit into all this? There seems to be a lot of different opinions. Was it over-controlled by Lasseter, or would it have been better with more input from the folks at Pixar? Are people going to like it? Should it have been traditionally animated?

    I suppose that this post is almost singularly useless, but I wanted to try and organize the different thoughts on the matter, if only for myself, and the best way seemed to be to write them down. I don’t know if anyone has any real ‘answers’ to any of these questions, but there is one last question I would like a definite answer to.

    For those looking to bring change, or even a return to traditional animation, what’s the best option? Stick with Disney and change it from the inside, or stick it alone and perhaps even start up a new studio?



  • Andrew Kieswetter

    I’m still going to see this. Still hoping for a Bolt sequel btw.

  • Robin

    I feel like people are grabbing me by the shoulders and going “You have to buy that art book.” Little do they know, they just have to say the words “Glen Keane” and I’m in head first.

    I am honestly tired of movies thinking something pretty is going to be what sells a movie. Sure it’s great for us in the computer nerd generation, but what comes out of it after that? A lot can be said for creating something with the intentions of it being a classic. Everything has the potential to fall into place after that. But, then again, that’s where you have to depend on the talent. And Disney Studios has the talent. So why aren’t they using it?

    • Justin

      “I am honestly tired of movies thinking something pretty is going to be what sells a movie.”

      It worked for Avatar.

  • Was my face red

    Story is hard and making story work well over an extended time period even harder. I think people are very kind to Pixar because the company show much love and care in their work that we excuse them the bits of story that don’t really work. They’re been a company that have excited us for a long time now so we overlook them the odd movie of two halves with a passive hero (Wall-E) or logical jump (we know Muntz is an explorer but an inventor who can make dogs talk?) We’re enjoying the ride so much we suspend disbelief and wait for the next good bit with the really funny bird. They make fans of us all and fans forgive.

    But Disney doesn’t stand a chance. A company (or rather a man) that the world used to love became a cold corporate monolith a long time ago and no amount of Lassiter trying to put a Hawaiian shirt on it is going to make us love it again. We’re going to pick pick pick it apart and even bemoan the ‘Broadway musical’ movies that won it it’s biggest audiences for years (and Oscars.)

    The whole world are fans of Pixar now and it may just be true that after an amazing legacy Disney may no longer be the people we want to see animated movies from any more.. even if Lassiter does pop over to visit them from time to time.

  • John
  • Gene Milder

    Why is anyone surprised?

    Disney has been putting out mediocre animated films for a decade now. “Treasure Planet”, “Home on the Range”, “Chicken Little”, “The Wild”, “Dinosaurs”, “Bolt” and, yes, “Princess and the Frog”.

    I’ll be very surprised (and happily so) when Disney puts out a good flick. A movie that’s not made by committee. I believe the last one was “Lilo and Stitch”.

    Until then, business as usual. Move along.

  • grumpy

    it looks like Shrek.

  • happy

    I saw it this weekend. Amazing movie.

    To those of you blanketly bashing it based on one review and havent seen it yourself, go see it. You’ll be surprised.

  • Solaris

    People, stop taking this movie stuff so serious! Go to the movie theater and watch TANGLED and let the story suck you in, because it will. Enjoy yourself and don’t think to much.

  • d. harry

    John, I’m glad you brought up Brenda. Could it be that Pixar decided they wanted her heroine to be more like what they were seeing with Rapunzel?? You’ve seen both films, so I was just wondering IF that could be the case?

  • Bruce

    Well, story aside, I think the animation is AMAZING!! Beautiful work!! First time it’s come close to the 2d stuff! Love’n the lizard and the horse!!

    The shot of the guards on horseback charging over the hill is just fantastic — wow!

  • Martin Juneau

    What makes me sad about the current Disney legacy is how they claims they respect the spirit of the Walt Disney studio fame which is wrong since his death. And those new movies as Princess and the Frog proven how this formula is cheesy and dated. I will watch a new Disney feature when they will take real risks and find new horizons. Not before.

  • Stephan

    Lee Unkrich and Janie Haddad dug it on twitter, so I’m going to reserve judgment until I see it. Not every film has to be a masterpiece. I guess when you focus only on animated ones, its kind of a downer when they don’t come out that way though.

  • HB

    First of all, thank you for inspiring my decision to watch Tangled instead of Harry Potter. I was only going as a cursory fan anyways, & HP doesn’t need my ticket as much.

    I’m not going to make any theories or scapegoats that have been happening alot around here. I’m going to talk about dreams. My big Disney dream was never to be a princess, but to draw them. And for along time I felt that the dream had little hope of ever growing. Then I saw WALL-E & I decided to trust Pixar with my dream. I decided to trust John, particularly when he took the creative helm at Disney Feature. This post and these comments make me feel like I was wrong to have that dream.

    I will choose story (Pixar) over preferred medium (Disney Feature) but I don’t WANT to. Please John, don’t make me choose between the house of my fathers and the house of my children. Don’t run the ship aground. Keep DF afloat at least until I get there. I don’t care if she’s five minutes from sinking, as long as I can have that ride.

    And of all the princess movies the Mouse has done, there is one left- a film made and written by a woman. Get a chick to give her perspective on the story, & I’ll be good.

    • Funkybat

      Funny…Harry Potter wasn’t even on my radar. Saw the first couple movies and thought they were OK, not pulled in enough to want to go out of my way for more.

      If Tangled is up against Harry Potter, I guess I will have to make a point to go see it on opening weekend, something I usually avoid due to crowds. But every little bit of Box Office helps keep Disney animation alive, so I will deal with the hassle for that reason alone.

  • With your permission, Rapunzel. Best – animation – ever!!

  • w

    I just had a conversation with a couple of co-workers (2 recent ex-Pixar animators and a recent ex-DisneyToons board artist, all who left on good terms) who all had seen the test screening and they told me that Disney effed up the marketing – there’s a great villain, a high-tension mother-daughter relationship, some genuine romance and more than meets the eye to the slapstick bailout of a trailer that was presented.

    I’m curious now! So I’ll go & take my kids. Here I thought it was a Shrek rehash.

    Oh – and ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’? That other Shrek re-hash? Same thing. People forget that Gnomeo was directed by the guy who boarded Buzz’s revelation that he was just a toy in ‘Toy Story’. So, yeah, the trailers aren’t always accurate, which is too bad. But make up your own minds & go, whatever you do.

  • OtherDan

    My simple answer to your question: “What’s best to release under the Disney label?”, is that they should be doing traditional hand drawn films period. That is an art to aspire to which many artists prefer to do. The one thing about Walt Disney that should always be instilled is the idea of progressing and trying new things. I remember hearing that some of the great Disney animators felt there was limitless room to grow with the medium. But, what happened is that they settled into a rhythm of doing things and basically became predictable. So, bring in fresh ideas and let the veterans guide those ideas and mentor the younger artists who are dying to carry on the tradition of hand-drawn. Just look at how great that intro to Kunfu Fu Panda was. Pixar is now Disney. So, why have two entities doing the same thing? They always say that the fundamentals of hand-drawn translate well into CG animation. So, if they stick to this plan, they will be incubating a well of talent that can move between the divisions and inform each other. Enough people want to work for Disney that they could strengthen their core, and dominate again. Right now, they’ve Disney (not Pixar) has lost it’s edge to Dreamworks for certain-probably Blue Sky as well. Take a chance Catmul and Lasseter and invest in hand-drawn! And, hire me while you’re at it. I’m one of those guys who only wants to work in hand-drawn if I could.

  • stella

    bello wow! fantastico ma non ce qualke altra immaggine di rapunzel?

  • Eric Graf

    The other side of Tangled, the one you don’t get to see in the American trailers, is on display in this Japanese one:


    Hard to believe it’s the same movie, ain’t it

    • OtherDan

      You said it Eric. That is a movie that I’d like to see. Not a Disney version of Shrek.

  • mickhyperion

    I really hope I’m wrong about this movie based on what I’ve seen in the trailers (including the latest “Rapunz-Hair” thing) because I really am a big Disney fan. BUT if the movie truly is great and the trailers haven’t come anywhere near to doing it justice, then Disney really needs to rethink their marketing strategy in the future because I think it’s because of that that so many people are turned off and have no desire to see the movie. Just calling it Rapunzel instead of Tangled would have been a big step in the right direction for me.

  • Thomas Hatch

    Finally, a Disney movie for foot fetishists!

  • uncle wayne

    I am neither female…OR young. This 57 year old had a ba-LAST….from a to z. Tons of laffs….lottsa heart, and gorgeous! (PLUS a great score!) PLUS, i’m certain, a new plush for my plush collection!) It was an ABsolute joy from stem to stern. Nothing not to like! (er….LOVE!)

  • who like tangled please like or share thank you.do you like it…….