To be honest, the idea of doing this post is a big part of what inspired me to start this Disney Animation Studios blog marathon to begin with. There’s a weird rivalry between fans of these two movies, even though they’re both Disney Princess movies released in the same decade. And sure, the movies are 7 years old and 4 years old respectively, but they still both have loyal, opinionated fanbases. They’ve both got sequel content still to come in one form or another, which is why this vs. post is still relevant.
Like my previous vs. posts, I’ll be organizing this into categories and I’ll declare a winner at the end of each one, but I won’t be keeping score. One movie may win a bunch of close battles in a number of categories, but could still suffer a huge loss in a vital one. Or in the case of The Little Mermaid vs. Beauty and the Beast, they both won a similar number of categories in close battles, but Beauty and the Beast is the more cohesive whole. So without further to do, let’s compare Disney’s 50th animated feature to the most profitable animated movie of all time.
Both movies feature two clear main characters. That makes this an easy category to judge.
In Tangled, you’ve got Rapunzel and Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert. Rapunzel is a girl with 70 foot magic hair that loses its power if it’s cut. She’s been locked away in a tower for pretty much all her life by an emotionally manipulative mother figure. As a result, she’s socially underdeveloped and naïve, but boundlessly optimistic. She’s taken up a number of hobbies to pass the time, like painting, climbing, making dresses from scratch, baking, cooking … you get the idea. She’s got a lot of skills. She’s been manipulated into thinking she’s too weak to survive in the real world. Despite all this, she dreams of leaving the tower and finding out what these “floating lights” are. They appear in the sky on her birthday and only her birthday.
Flynn Rider is a handsome thief who starts off as very narcissistic. He’s very reluctant to act as Rapunzel’s guide at first, even though she’s hidden the very crown he stole from the kingdom of Corona. As the movie goes on, the pair slowly start to open up to each other. Flynn Rider reveals touches of his backstory, about how he grew up in an orphanage. He learns to care about someone else. Rapunzel learns that she’s stronger than she thinks, and that she’s naturally good with people. Their mutual distrust toward each other slowly turns into a blooming romance. By the end of the movie, they’re both willing to sacrifice their lives for each other (one metaphorically and one literally). Their relationship and growth together is so well developed that you completely believe it.
Both characters also have great comedic timing.
Frozen stars sisters Queen Elsa and Princess Anna, who have completely opposite character flaws. Anna is a social butterfly who opens up to people way too fast. She’s ditzy, usually in an amusing way, and very emotionally driven. Elsa on the other hand tends to shut everyone out and suppresses her emotions. I’ll discuss why in the next section. Their character flaws drive the plot more than anything else, and through their struggles, Anna learns not to trust people too quickly, while Elsa warms to the idea of opening up and letting people in again.
In a sense, Elsa and Flynn have similar character arcs. They both start off as social shut-ins, just in different ways. While Elsa keeps people out until the very end of Frozen, Flynn gradually learns to open up over the course of Tangled. That’s not to say one approach is inherently better than the other, but when Elsa’s spent years trying to be alone, and then she’s suddenly really friendly at the end, it’s a bit jarring. Flynn on the other hand works with other people throughout the course of his stealing career, so his character development feels a bit more natural.
Rapunzel and Anna also have their similarities. They both dream of something more than what they’ve got. Rapunzel dreams of leaving her tower, while Anna dreams of opening up the gates and finding true love. As fun of a character as Anna is though, I find Rapunzel a deeper, more developed character from the get-go. In addition to her dreams, she feels a sense of responsibility to protect her magic hair. It’s what stops her from leaving the tower. Anna never shows any real sense of responsibility outside of trying to help her sister.
Both movies have good lead characters, but I find both Rapunzel and Flynn more interesting than Elsa and Anna. Rapunzel and Flynn’s dreams are explored much deeper, and they evolve as the movie goes on instead of Anna and Elsa’s sudden realizations at the end of Frozen. Rapunzel and Flynn also spend most of the movie together. Elsa and Anna spend most of the movie apart, so they don’t have nearly as much time to grow together.
Tangled wins the main characters category, but not by too much.
Tangled and Frozen take a completely different approach to supporting characters.
Tangled features a relatively small cast of characters. The two most important supporting characters are Pascal and Maximus. Pascal is Rapunzel’s pet chameleon and her sidekick. At times he acts as an external representation of Rapunzel’s inner thoughts, and at times he gives the movie some great deadpan humour. It doesn’t hurt that he’s cute, and that he actually contributes to the movie’s climactic fight.
Maximus is just awesome. He’s the captain of the guard’s horse, and he’s by far the most competent member of the imperial guard. He acts as a mix of a hardcore soldier and a dog, sniffing the ground to track Flynn down and even fighting him with a sword in his mouth at one point. It’s such a strange characterization for a horse and they go all out with it. Even though he’s a supporting character, Maximus goes through a character arc of his own. As a Disney Princess, Rapunzel is naturally great with animals. After Maximus tracks down Flynn to take him in, Rapunzel calms Maximus down. By the end of the movie, Maximus decides that breaking Flynn out of prison to help save Rapunzel is more important than following orders. The once bitter rivals become loyal friends.
There’s also the other three guards, and the roughians. The guards are fairly stereotypical and there’s nothing wrong with that. The roughians, or pub thugs if you prefer, are people Flynn introduces Rapunzel to early on in their adventure hoping to scare her back into the tower. What follows is a song we’ll talk about later, but it gives each pub thug unique personalities in the span of two minutes. They’re surprisingly well developed for their very little screen time, and they’re fun too.
But the most emotionally impactful supporting characters are Rapunzel’s parents, the king and queen. After Rapunzel was stolen from them, they were clearly devastated. Neither of them speak a single word in the movie. Instead, their emotional struggle is shown entirely through their facial expressions and body language. Before raising their lantern on Rapunzel’s birthday, they spend a moment inside their balcony. The king is tearing up, and it’s the queen who shows strength by smiling to encourage him. It’s a strained smile, but it shows the queen’s emotional strength. That is one of the movie’s more emotional moments, and it’s told without a single line of dialogue.
This moment is toward the end of this clip, and I’ll talk about the earlier half of the clip later.
Frozen on the other hand has a whole bunch of supporting characters. You’ve got the king and queen (Elsa and Anna’s parents), who are terrible parents. After the trolls tell them that Elsa needs to learn to control her ice powers, they lock Elsa up in her room for years, hoping that shutting out her emotions will help. When her powers continue to grow out of control more and more, they keep trying the same solution. You’d think that a king with royal advisors would be able to figure out a different strategy sooner or later. Also, the queen doesn’t say or do anything. She might as well be a lamp. With all that said, it doesn’t make the king a bad character, but it means that these barely developed characters drastically affect the plot.
Most of the trolls are obnoxiously friendly. The grandfather troll is some sort of magical wise man. That’s about it really. You could easily replace them with a dedicated castle wizard and show more of Arendelle suffering the winter storm. The trolls also sing what is easily the worst song in the movie, but more on that later.
Kristoff, who acts as a minor love interest through the movie, helps Anna on her journey to find Elsa. He’s alright, but I found him bland. He seems to only exist to help Anna survive, to give her a better love interest than Prince Hans (more on him in the next category), and to keep hammering in the movie’s core message.
The comedic relief comes in the form of Olaf. He’s cute, soft spoken and often oblivious to what’s going on. He’s popular and I understand why, but I can take him or leave him. I like that he lets emotional moments happen though, something that even the Genie in Aladdin didn’t always do.
There are a lot of other characters, but it would take forever to get through them all. None of them are particularly memorable in any case.
Tangled’s supporting cast is memorable. You’ve got quite possibly the most awesome horse in the history of fiction, a cute chameleon with deadpan humour, and pub thugs with a surprising amount of depth. The king and queen in Tangled provide some very deeply emotional moments even though they hardly even appear in the movie, and they never say a word. With the exception of Olaf and to a lesser extent, Kristoff, Frozen’s supporting cast is bloated and forgettable.
Tangled wins this category by a significant margin for multiple reasons.
Both Tangled and Frozen feature a main villain and a couple supporting villains, making this another easy category to compare them with.
In Tangled you’ve got Mother Gothel. The backstory explains that Mother Gothel’s been using a magic flower to stay young for centuries. When the queen falls ill during pregnancy, the king seeks out the flower to heal her. It works, and Rapunzel is born with blonde, magic hair. Gothel snuck inside to try to steal some of Rapunzel’s hair, but when it turned brown and lost its power, Gothel stole Rapunzel from her parents and raised Rapunzel as her own, emotionally manipulating her into thinking it’s unsafe to leave the tower.
There are several things that make Gothel a fantastic villain. One, her motivations are very clear. She wants to stay young forever, and she’ll do anything to make that happen. Two, she’s almost a complete mystery. You don’t know where she’s from. You don’t know whether Gothel even cares about Rapunzel, or if she only cares about the magic hair. You don’t know whether she’s a witch, or just an old woman smart enough to figure out how the flower works. She’s stealthy, smart and a master manipulator. Yet when she doesn’t get her way, she’s wrathful and deadly.
The Stabbington brothers are the supporting villains. They work with Flynn Rider to steal the crown at the start of the movie, and after Flynn betrays them, they seek revenge. They’re not particularly smart, but they’re large, strong and dangerous. They make good supporting villains, again with clear motivations. It also means that one villain is directly going after Rapunzel, while the others are going after Flynn. It balances out nicely.
Frozen’s villains might actually be the movie’s biggest weakness. In the original Snow Queen story, the snow queen is the villain. Since Elsa is turned into more of a victim of her powers (they changed it to that after “Let It Go” was written), they needed a replacement villain fast. I’m not saying that turning Elsa into a victim of her powers is a bad thing. I actually think it was a great move. Anyway, Prince Hans is introduced early in the movie as Anna’s main love interest, and for most of the movie he seems charming. Even his facial expressions suggest that he’s genuinely attracted to Anna. But when he suddenly gets the chance to kill both Elsa and Anna, he jumps on the opportunity and becomes a full-blown villain set to inherit Arendelle’s throne for himself. I liked the twist the first time I watched the movie, but after 4 more viewings over the years, I noticed that there’s no foreshadowing whatsoever.
Sure, his motivations are clear – he’s the last of 13 children and will never inherit his father’s throne, so he tries to marry into another royal family instead. I get the idea behind it, but it falls flat when you think about the execution.
The smaller villain is just this weasely politician who tries to learn more about Arendelle than he should, and then tries to kill Elsa as soon as he discovers her ice powers. He’s as stereotypical as they come.
Mother Gothel is a fantastic villain who can shift from being charming to straight up intimidating at a moment’s notice. She’s intense, she’s smart and she’s memorable. None of the villains in Frozen come anywhere close to that. In fact, I would argue that the Stabbington brothers are more interesting than Hans and the politician put together.
Tangled demolishes Frozen in the villain category.
Before we get to the other three categories, here’s a quick joke category that will in no way affect my decision.
Both Tangled and Frozen have sequel material in multiple forms.
Tangled: Ever After is a 2012 short that’s basically Rapunzel and Eugene (formerly Flynn) getting married. It’s a comedic adventure featuring Pascal and Maximus where they accidentally drop the ring, and the entire short is them chasing after it all throughout Corona, while causing all sorts of disasters on the way. It’s cute, it’s amusing and it’s kind of nice.
But the main one is Tangled: The Series, and its pilot marketed as a movie, Tangled: Before Ever After. It begins 6 months after the movie, and Rapunzel somehow gets her magic hair back. Furthermore, it’s unbreakable and it no longer possesses its healing properties. The series will slowly explore the reasons why the hair is back and how it’ll effect the characters, but so far there’s only been one main story focused episode. Plus, it finally gives Tangled an anthem song.
The series has its emotional moments, but so far it’s far more lighthearted and comedic than the original movie. It’s also got some new original songs, including an anthem song (which the original movie doesn’t really have). The lighter tone might not work for all Tangled fans, but I’ve been enjoying it a lot so far and I know I’m not the only one. Besides, the king and queen now have spoken lines. The king’s voice actor in particular is Clancy Brown, who portrayed The Kurgan in the original Highlander. That’s just awesome.
Frozen has one short released already, Frozen Fever. It’s a short musical taking place on Anna’s birthday, but Elsa’s got a cold. It’s kind of fun but nothing special. There’s another Christmas themed short film coming this December. In 2019 there will be a theatrical sequel. There was also an entire half-season of Once Upon A Time focusing on Frozen, but that doesn’t count since it’s a live action series meant more for adults than kids.
As of this point, each movie’s got an animated short. One could argue that Frozen has the advantage because it’s getting a theatrical sequel. It’ll also feature higher quality animation than any animated TV show will ever have. But with a 1 hour pilot and 7 episodes in, the Tangled TV series already has more content released than Frozen 2 could possibly contain. By the time Frozen 2 releases, Tangled: The Series will be on its third and final planned season. If we can only judge what’s already out, Tangled wins. If we judge on how much upcoming content we know of, Tangled dominates. We can’t judge the quality level of something that isn’t out, so I guess this one goes to Tangled.
Since these are both CGI movies, which is a medium that Disney improves on year after year, I won’t compare these movies on a technical level. I will however mention some of the innovations that both movies brought. Tangled faced a massive challenge with the hair as soon as they decided to go with CGI. They even hired Kelly Ward, who literally earned her PHD in computer animated hair physics. They made massive leaps in hair animation, something that’s clearly been taken advantage of in Frozen. Frozen made massive improvements on animating weather, like snow blowing in the wind. The hair also blows along with the wind.
Both Frozen and Tangled have very similar animation styles. The women tend to have large, expressive eyes that in real life would not only look creepy, but would severely limit the space left in their heads for brains. But for an animated world, it’s better to go for an unrealistic style than to enter creepy territory by making photorealistic CGI humans. Both movies also make great use of facial expressions and body language. Nobody ever stays completely still –there are always micro movement that you may not always recognize unless you look closely, but it’s a subtle touch that breathes extra life into the characters.
The main difference in the animation styles are based in the environments.
The world of Tangled exists in a lush forest in mainland Europe. There are trees of various sizes, a rocky canyon with a water dam, fields and a secluded area hidden by dropped down vines. There’s some beautiful scenery. However it’s the buildings that really stand out. The inside of Rapunzel’s tower is covered in her paintings, ranging from artistic leaves and vines to the more specific paintings of the floating lights she dreams of seeing up close. The pub I mentioned before is right next to a large tree. It’s an old pub that the tree is starting to grow into, to the point that the floor is no longer flat. Instead of barstools, the patrons often sit on logs. Like Rapunzel’s tower, it gives the pub a lot of character.
The festival of the lanterns in Corona is a very colourful party. There are flags hanging on strings above the streets. There’s a wide variety of people hanging around town, whether they’re watching their kids drawing on the sidewalk with chalk, buying treats on sale on the streets or dancing to the music. This scene, combined with the floating lanterns scene that follows, currently holds the world record for the largest crowd in an animated movie. There are 3,000 people, each of them independently animated. The festival, along with the floating lanterns scene, is breathtaking to look at.
Frozen goes for a bit more of a technical showcase, and considering how brilliant the ice looks, that’s a good thing. The intensity of the storm often matches Elsa’s mood as she grows more and more anxious toward the end of the movie. The snowflakes look real up close, and there’s one brilliant moment where they’re all floating in place, as if everything just stops. The mountains are beautiful and Elsa’s ice castle is gorgeous.
That said, nothing in Frozen has the same visual character as Tangled. Every building and street in Tangled tells you something about the people living or hanging out there. The castle in Frozen just has a bunch of big, empty rooms and paintings on the hallway walls. Tangled also uses the previously mentioned body language to tell the complete story of the King and Queen without a single word, and that leads to a very emotional moment. Frozen never lets the visuals tell the story on that same emotional level.
Both of these movies are beautiful to look at and I’m sure they’ll both age well, but Tangled gets the edge here because of the extra character in every environment. That and it being the more colourful movie will likely help it age a tiny bit better.
So far, Tangled has won every category, but perhaps this is where Frozen can start to turn it around. After all, its songs are monster hits. Keep in mind however that this category isn’t just about the songs, but it’s also about the soundtrack. Just a warning – this is a long category because there’s a lot to get through.
Tangled features 4 songs, 2 reprises and the healing incantation. The healing incantation is the song Gothel and Rapunzel sing to make her magic hair work. Her magic hair heals people and de-ages them. It’s use not only gives this movie a story reason to be a musical, but when different characters emphasize different parts of the healing incantation, it reveals elements about their personalities and intentions. Gothel always emphasizes “make the clock reverse”, while Rapunzel focuses more on “heal what has been hurt”.
“When Will My Life Begin”, Rapunzel’s opening number, is a modern-style acoustic pop song with a slight country touch. It’s upbeat and it describes some of the ways that Rapunzel tries to entertain herself and Pascal. It’s a fun song at first, but the more you pay attention to the lyrics and the accompanying visuals, the more tragic it sounds. The first time I listened to it I thought it was just ok, but thanks to the subtlety, it gets better with each listen. Mandy Moore, the voice for Rapunzel, hits that subtle emotion in the song very well. “Mother Knows Best” is a classic Broadway-style number that perfectly highlights Mother Gothel’s manipulative nature. It’s catchy, fun and memorable. It helps that Donna Murphy, Gothel’s voice actress, really belts it at specific moments to emphasize her arguments.
Both of these songs have their own reprises. The first’s reprise, sung just after Rapunzel leaves the tower, is the closest thing this movie has to an anthem song. It feels victorious and exciting, completely flipping the emotion of the original number. Gothel’s reprise also completely flips the emotion, turning it into a blatant attempt at terrifying Rapunzel into returning to the tower. That reprise is intense in all the right ways.
“I’ve Got A Dream” is a pure lounge number just before the movie’s half-way point. It’s comedic, it’s catchy, and it gives the pub thugs a surprising amount of character development in a very short time. The idea is that all of these thugs have desires that clash with their rough appearances. Flynn also makes fun of the song’s existence, which I think is the only time a fully animated Disney movie has ever done that. This one was fun the first time, and it’s grown on me with each listen.
But the real highlight is “I See The Light”. It’s a pure romantic duet between Rapunzel and Flynn in the same vein as Aladdin’s “A Whole New World”. But it’s more than that. The lyrics may sound cliché if you listen to the song on its own first, but they tie in the movie’s themes and the character development into the lyrics. It also takes place during what might just be the most visually beautiful moment in any animated movie ever. I can’t not tear up while listening to this song. Zachary Levi, Flynn’s voice actor, makes his singing debut here, and he’s good enough to headline his own album. It received an academy nomination for best original song, and I say a crime that it didn’t win over Toy Story 3’s “We Belong Together”.
Frozen on the other hand features eight full songs and a reprise, so we can’t look at each of them in too much detail. “Frozen Heart” is a good Norwegian folk-style song that feels like nothing else in the movie. “Do You Want To Build A Snowman” is a cute, catchy song that breezes through the years that Anna and Elsa grow up apart from each other, growing more and more tragic as the song goes on. It’s the most emotional song in the movie.
“For The First Time In Forever” and “Let It Go” are probably the two best songs in the movie. They’re both pop-like anthems with big sounding choruses. The first is Anna being excited about the gates finally opening up again. “Let It Go” needs no introduction, but just in case you’ve somehow missed it, here it is.
However, Frozen also features the weakest songs out of the two movies. “Love is an Open Door” isn’t necessarily bad mind you, but it could have been half as long and still say everything it needed to say. It’s disguised as a love song with comedic lyrics, but it’s actually a villain song if you think about it. “Reindeers Are Better Than People” is just a silly jingle by Kristoff that you’ll probably forget about moments later. At least it’s short. “In Summer” is Olaf being excited about bringing back summer, even though he’s a snowman. The whole joke could have easily been told in half the time, and it stops being funny a minute in.
And then there’s “Fixer Upper.” This song, sung by the trolls, completely wastes two and a half minutes. It’s obnoxious, mildly annoying and ultimately pointless. The movie would be better off if both the trolls, and this song, were removed completely. It would force Anna to seek help in Arendelle instead, which would give you more time to see the people of the kingdom suffering in the storm. It would give the movie more emotional impact. But no, we need to waste time with annoying characters trying to set Anna and Kristoff up with each other when Anna is already engaged to someone else.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s cancel out “Fixer Upper” and “Let It go”. That way each movie has 7 songs. “I See The Light” is a far better love song than “Love Is An Open Door”. Nothing in Frozen even attempts to match the emotional depth of that scene. “Mother Knows Best” is also a much better villain song than “Love Is An Open Door”. “I’ve Got A Dream” is funnier than “In Summer”, and it also highlights Tangled’s central theme. “For The First Time In Forever” is easily better than “When Will My Life Begin” – it’s just more exciting and instantly memorable. And of the two short songs, “Healing Incantation” is more emotionally impactful and reveals character traits, whereas “Reindeers Are Better Than People” is forgettable.
At this point I would call it a relative tie. However it’s also about how the songs affect the movie. That’s where Frozen starts to slip down. As a musical, Frozen’s biggest problem is the pacing of the songs. The five best songs all happen within the first half hour of the movie. Sure, most of them to that point do tell the story a bit, but they also slow down the pacing. With Tangled, the songs are much more spread out, and they wisely save the best for last. In that sense, Tangled does a better job as a musical. Also, because Frozen’s songs are all pop songs of sorts, I imagine they won’t age quite as well as Tangled’s more classic approach. In fact, I feel like “Love Is An Open Door” is already aging.
But where Tangled really sets itself apart is the soundtrack. I’ve listened to both of these soundtracks on their own, and Tangled’s soundtrack is both more memorable and more emotional. The opening narration is backed by a mysterious tune that takes in elements from a couple different songs later on in the movie. When Flynn arrives at the tower the second time to save Rapunzel from Gothel, the music feels heroic. The soundtrack gets quiet when calm, character development scenes take place.
Alan Menken composed both the soundtrack and the songs. His previous Disney credits include Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas, all of which he won Academy Awards for. I wouldn’t call the Tangled soundtrack quite that good – it does have a couple weaker moments, but “The Kingdom Dance” may just be the greatest single soundtrack moment in Disney Animation Studios history. Here is the Kingdom Dance scene with all the sounds removed.
Frozen’s soundtrack is fine as background music, but with the exception of a few moments, it’s lame to listen to on its own. Here’s one of the better soundtrack moments.
Although the songs are a close call between the two movies, Tangled features the far better soundtrack. It also organizes its songs better within the movie, and “I See The Light” is by far the most emotional song between the two movies. That’s why Tangled wins the music category.
Frozen has one last chance to pull a big win. It’s time to compare the movies’ stories and the moral lessons behind them.
I talked about the Rapunzel fairy tale in my original Tangled post so I won’t expand on it here, but all the changes that Tangled makes are genius. They explain why Rapunzel has long hair, why she’s locked in a tower and how her tears can heal people. It automatically gave the movie an emotional core by starring a character stolen from her real parents and held prisoner by an emotionally manipulative, incredibly vain woman.
However, Gothel underestimated Rapunzel’s intelligence, passion and determination. So when Flynn Rider, a wanted criminal, stumbles upon the tower, she convinces him to be his guide. The movie is a combination of an adventure, a coming of age story and a romance. Gothel chases after them, and begins her plan to manipulate events to try to prove herself right about the world in Rapunzel’s eyes.
For Rapunzel, it’s a journey of self-discovery. It’s a journey where she learns about the world and the people in it. She learns that she’s stronger than she thinks. Tangled is equally about Flynn, who learns to be a more honorable person. He learns to open himself up to someone, to value other people above himself and how to be honest. Both main characters end up growing as individuals and a couple. The story is tightly focused on their mutual journey, as well as Rapunzel reconnecting with her real parents. All of this is very well handled and it all ties together.
But the core message of the movie is following your dreams, a central part of Walt Disney’s legacy. A lot of his earlier movies, like Pinocchio and Cinderella, were about following your dreams. Tangled fully embraces that with Rapunzel’s goals, but it also explores the theme on a deeper level. Just before the lanterns start floating, there’s a brilliant exchange between Rapunzel and Flynn that takes place in the first video clip I posted.
That conversation alone perfectly exemplifies Walt Disney’s biggest message to kids, and it’s the perfect way to celebrate the studio’s 50th feature film.
Frozen’s story is about Elsa, a future queen born with powerful ice magic. After she accidentally strikes her sister Anna with it, she’s hidden away from the world in hopes that it will help her learn to control it. Instead, it only makes it worse. Both children grow up feeling alone. Their parents completely failed them both. That isn’t a problem from a storytelling standpoint – it’s part of the fairy tale element.
Years later, just after her coronation, Elsa accidentally reveals her ice magic to the world. When some of the visiting politicians try to kill her, she flees. Anna, not willing to give up on her sister, chases after her. Meanwhile, Arendelle is completely covered in a powerful winter storm that could very well kill everyone if it’s not stopped in time. Sadly, the movie mostly ignores that part of the story.
Meanwhile, Prince Hans takes advantage of the opportunity to try and take over the kingdom, revealing his intentions just as Anna is dying of an ice related curse, and Elsa is in a prison cell. There are other people trying to take advantage of the situation, none of which are focused on very well.
The story of the two sisters is very well told. The message along with it, that sisterly love cannot be truly broken (unless you’re part of an especially messed up family), is a good one. The other moral, that you shouldn’t marry someone too quickly, is without any form of subtlety. In fact, the movie keeps hammering you over the head with it. And it’s a lesson that pretty much everyone learns by the time they’re old enough to marry anyway. That’s not to say it’s a bad lesson to teach, but it’s almost as if they’re going against the Disney Princess stereotype at the expense of good storytelling.
So you’ve got a very focused, character driven story in Tangled, with a lesson that honours the Disney legacy, vs a less focused story in Frozen with a blatant message that seems to directly talk down to early Disney movies. I’m not saying that Frozen has a bad story – it’s still perfectly serviceable, but Tangled is better.
Frozen is still a good movie. Its two lead characters are great, and their contrasting character flaws work well against each other. That said, the movie is overloaded with too many underdeveloped characters and their underdeveloped sub-plots. It’s nowhere nearly as messy as Princess and the Frog – in fact I would agree that Frozen beats Princess and the Frog in the Music, Animation and Story categories while at least cutting it very close with the main characters. Princess and the Frog wins with its supporting characters and villain though.
But having seen both of these movies five or more times, I believe that Tangled is better in almost every way. Its lesson can apply to anyone. The story is more focused. It’s emotionally deeper. It features the most well-developed romantic relationship I’ve seen in this blog marathon so far. With only two more movies to go that I haven’t seen, and Moana not having a romantic subplot, I doubt that’s going to change. It’s got a very mysterious and brilliant villain.
My favourite movies tend to be the ones that touch me on every emotional level. Both of these movies make me laugh (although Tangled does it more). Both of these movies make me care about their main characters. But Frozen never quite gets me to tear up. There are multiple moments in Tangled that do.
Frozen may have earned more money than Tangled, and it may be the one that’s getting a theatrical sequel, but that alone doesn’t make it the better movie. Otherwise, you’d have to say that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is better than Inception.
Tangled earned almost $600 million at a time when Disney movies weren’t doing all that well, despite a disastrous, misleading marketing campaign. It also released in the shadow of Toy Story 3, and the week after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1. Frozen released at the height of the Disney Revival period, with a great marketing campaign at the exact right time. Pixar’s movie that year – the mildly good Monster’s University. Frozen was guaranteed to succeed.
Seriously, if you’re a Disney fan who hasn’t seen Tangled, or you only watched it once years ago and at least mildly enjoyed it, I recommend you track it down. It gets better with each viewing. But Frozen is at least worth a watch too.