Anyway, badtzphoto was talking about Tangled over on her LJ, and we decided we wanted to discuss it in great detail, so we're doing it over here instead of in comments.
The main discussions centered around Flynn Rider and Mother Gothel, and we have a lot to say about both of them. But first we want to say this: if you guys like these movies, seriously GO SEE THEM IN THEATERS so they can afford to make more!
Anyway. We'll start with Mother Gothel. The main comment we hear about her (there are actually two, but the second one is usually ours) is that she just wasn't evil enough. Every time we hear that, we're kind of like, "What movie were you watching? She's pure evil! One of the evilest Disney villains ever concocted!"
Thinking about it now, our violent (by which I mean extreme; we never actually want to hit or throw things) reaction might have something to do with a different world view, caused by different life circumstances. But there is only one Disney villain who comes close to inspiring as much rage in me as Mother Gothel, and that's Lady Tremaine. We have a thing against the psychological warfare, because we've had to deal with it, and frankly, it sucks. It does terrible, horrible things to your head, and really messes with your ability to deal with people in the real world. And that's what makes Mother Gothel so evil.
First, she stole a baby from her parents. Sure she raised the baby and gave her nice things and kept her relatively happy, but that was all part of her strategy. It's much easier to keep a pet than a rebellious prisoner. And that's pretty much what Rapunzel was to her--a pet. But Mother Gothel was smart enough to know that a human being is more intelligent than the average pet, so she took steps to make sure Rapunzel stayed her pet by making sure Rapunzel knew she was nothing, she was worthless, she was weak, and she was completely incapable of surviving anywhere but in the tower. And Rapunzel believed it, as evidenced by the first scene with her and Pascal, where Pascal tries to convince her to leave, and she says, "I like it in here, and so do you."
The song "Mother Knows Best" is so brilliantly evil, too. Oh my goodness, the first few times we saw the movie it made me more angry with each viewing (but in a, "this movie is so good at this!" kind of way, so I liked it). It pretty much illustrates her entire relationship with Rapunzel. She sings to her about all the big bad scary evils in the outside world, and while Rapunzel tries her hardest to deal with the fear, Gothel eliminates every piece of hope Rapunzel manages to come up with. (I'm thinking about how Gothel turns off all the lights, and then Rapunzel lights some candles, and Gothel is right behind her putting them out.)
After the song, she tells Rapunzel, "I love you most." This is such a great example of her narcissism and her manipulation of Rapunzel. First, she's saying, "I love you more than you love me, because I'm better than everyone in every way, especially you." And second, she's saying, "No one could possibly love you any more than me." Rapunzel probably didn't catch on to this subtlety very well, because of the whole, "I love you more," thing, which she probably meant. But what it means is, "No one could possibly love you any more than I do (see the verse in "Mother Knows Best" where she talks about how ugly Rapunzel is), which isn't very much." But what Rapunzel might have picked up on was the fact that if Mother Gothel supposedly loved her more than anyone ever, but was constantly pointing out her faults and worthlessness, there's no way she would want to go deal with people in the real world who are going to be even worse to her.
Now, as far as more overt acts of evil--she totally manipulates the Stabbington brothers, promising them wealth beyond their wildest dreams, and then gets them arrested, and probably put on death row (since they were going to execute Rider, and they were accomplices). Oh my gosh, and "Mother Knows Best: Reprise." Rapunzel's like, "I finally found something that makes me happy!" and Gothel's all like, "Are you kidding me? You must be demented if you think anyone would actually love you." And of course we can't forget the fact that she actually killed Rider. Actually killed him! Killing heroes (or succeeding anyway) is actually pretty rare as far as Disney villains are concerned. And after she did it she said to Rapunzel, "Look what you did." She blamed Rapunzel for Rider's death! The way she constantly shifts her "bad guy" responsibility to Rapunzel is infuriating!
Ahem. I would also like to point out that, while it's true she didn't kill Rapunzel, she had to keep Rapunzel alive or there would be no magic hair to keep her young. Killing Rapunzel would have been the worst possible thing she could have done to herself.
Now that I've spent so much time talking about how Mother Gothel is, in fact, very evil, let's talk about Flynn Rider. He's not exactly what you'd call a "good guy." But he never pretended to be. Okay, I guess he kind of pretended to be by being the hero of a Disney movie, but that's just a preconceived notion that audiences have about Disney movies that maybe they should get over, because there are several Disney heroes (and a few heroines) who have a lot of growing and maturing to do.
To be honest, we didn't like Rider as much as we expected to. We've always had a thing for honorable thief characters, so when we saw his sexy character design and we knew he was a thief, we were like, "He's gonna be awesome!" Then we saw the movie the first time, and we were like, "Eh, he's kind of a wannabe." Then we thought about it and realized, "Yeah, he's a wannabe. That's the whole point." Because Rider is a dynamic character. (When I was thinking about this, I was like, "In contrast to Aladdin, who's honorable the whole time." But then I realized that Aladdin is dynamic, too, just in a different way. He starts out awesome, then he gets insecure and turns stupid, and then he gets over it and is even more awesome. Aladdin's the best♥)
So the whole point of Flynn Rider is that he's a fake (which is actually kind of what Aladdin's problem was, too). He hated his life because it sucked, so he made up a new one. His big problem was that he tried to take the easy way out. It's like when we were in college and there were all these cool things we wanted to buy (mostly a PS2), so we kept trying to come up with "get rich quick" schemes that never succeeded because either we lacked the follow-through or they were stupid. If Rider were to find someone to apprentice himself to, that would be a lot of long, hard work that may or may not pay off. He wanted to be rich and free like the hero from his storybooks, and having a job wouldn't have helped that.
I'm not saying his choices were right--in fact we're very strongly of the opinion that they were wrong. But Rider starts out as kind of a villain in this movie. The only thing that makes him an unusual villain is that he starts out his villainous role when Rapunzel already has the upper hand. She's already in control, so he seems more like an annoyer than a villain. But all the way through the "I've Got a Dream" number, he's trying to thwart Rapunzel's plan to follow her dream.
He probably would have stayed a low-down dirty thief if not for Rapunzel's overpowering goodness, and the fact that he knew he wasn't really happy in life. Rapunzel gave him the chance to find something better. When he realized that ("I See the Light" wasn't named that by accident), he decided to go clean. He even bought most of the apples he gave to Maximus. (Though with what money...) He gave the crown to the Stabbington brothers (he probably would have given it back to the king and queen (anonymously of course--he was still a wanted criminal) if they hadn't shown up to threaten his and Rapunzel's lives).
But more than anything, he was ready to face the consequences of his actions and go to the gallows without a fight until he found out that Rapunzel was in trouble. So he went to save her and got killed! And he could have avoided death, but he cared about Rapunzel too much to let her save him! So we think he redeemed himself. I like to think he's reading books to orphans again.
And that's what we have to say about that. Hopefully it's coherent.
Today I'm thankful for making good progress on Nabari, not being completely confused as to what's going on in the story, finally getting to try our Late Night Snack ice cream last night, the pretty picture of an eagle on our May calendar, and deals at the Disneyland hotel (that we'll hopefully get to take advantage of).