'Tangled': A new TV show and how the movie influenced 'Frozen'

'Frozen' became the pop culture phenomenon, but its heroine and action sequences owe something to the animated movie that came before, 'Tangled.' This may explain executives' desire to revive 'Tangled' as a TV show.

Disney Enterprises, Inc./AP
'Tangled' stars Zachary Levi and Mandy Moore.

An animated TV series based on the Disney film “Tangled” is reportedly in the works. 

According to Variety, the TV show will air on the Disney Channel beginning in 2017 and actress Mandy Moore, who voiced Rapunzel, and Zachary Levi, who did the vocal work for the roguish Flynn Rider (also known as Eugene), will be returning for the show.

In addition, composing superstar Alan Menken, who did the music for such Disney classics as “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin,” and “Tangled” lyricist Glenn Slater will be coming back for the TV program as well. 

According to Disney, the TV show will take place after the events of “Tangled,” which (spoiler alert) found Rapunzel reunited with her parents and involved romantically with Flynn, and before the animated short “Tangled Ever After,” which came to theaters with the 3-D version of the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast” and centered on Rapunzel and Flynn's wedding day. In the new show, Rapunzel decides to wait to truly become a princess and look for adventure instead.

What would make Disney move forward with a TV show of “Tangled”? For one, the film is a perfect example of the studio's current movie model of an old-fashioned musical with showily modern sensibilities – the formula was embraced by Disney’s 2013 megahit “Frozen,” among others. Disney released the film version of “Tangled” following a string of misses such as “Chicken Little,” “Meet the Robinsons,” and “Bolt.” The 2009 movie “The Princess and the Frog” started down this path as well – the take-charge heroine, Tiana, wants to open her own restaurant – but the movie wasn’t a success at the box office. 

So Disney called the Rapunzel story “Tangled” (no mention of a princess) and expanded on the modern wink-wink tone with classic musical numbers added. Some critics found the combination confusing, like Boston Globe critic Wesley Morris, who wrote that when one character “breaks into song, the movie insists on sight gags or a jokey lyric…. The musical bits sag with uncertainty. The whole movie does.”

But others thought “Tangled” pulled off the mixture, with New York Times critic A.O. Scott comparing the film to "a familiar old neighborhood" and writing, “The architecture – in particular that castle, its tower garlanded with clouds – is more or less as you remember it.... but the décor is shinier, the pace a little faster, the overall atmosphere slick and efficient, with a few welcome grace notes of self-conscious classicism…. its look and spirit convey a modified, updated but nonetheless sincere and unmistakable quality of old-fashioned Disneyness.”

A.V. Club critic Tasha Robinson agreed, writing that "the script ... and the sprightly directing ... give the story plenty of snap and humor." Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips wrote that the movie is “bright and engaging … rollicking …  also enough of an action adventure to win over the princess mythology-resistant.” 

When "Frozen"'s Princess Anna exclaims, “This is awkward” and faces off with a big snow monster, it’s hard not to guess that “Frozen” learned a thing or two from “Tangled.” Following the pop-culture-dominating success of “Frozen,” perhaps executives want to further promote a series with some of the same modern sensibility.

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