Sorry it took a while, I was thinking it over before I replied. Good question since she’s the newest princess!
I’m not super impressed with Tangled. I enjoyed watching it, and it was very pretty, but even removed from all potential criticism it didn’t seem to have the same fresh spirit as earlier Disney films of the 1990’s.
I thought Rapunzel was decent, but she’s been done before. Sure, she is “spunky” and “rebels against her Mom,” “sort of saves the guy herself even though he ultimately saves her in the end,” but Disney princesses have been doing that for the past 20 years to the point that their personalities are almost becoming formulaic in this way?
I think one of my main feminist/film criticism would be the portrayal of evil characters. Disney has been following the same formula for this ever since their first animated films came out in the early 20th century, and it’s getting old. Children are not as easily… horrified? Naive? As people assume and I think Disney’s movies would be more widely appealing (to adults, especially) if the evil characters were more well rounded, and a mix of good and bad. Like, you know, real people. Their Princess films at this point have a tired feeling to the evil villians because they’re almost all the same- evil more or less for the sake of being evil.
I think it is also unfortunate that this is the umpteenth time that “woman obsessed with her looks/looking young” is centered as the evil character of the film. I think it is reflective of a culture that both pushes young women to strive for physical perfection, while simultaneously then shaming/punishing them for desiring it (like how people will rip apart a person who gets plastic surgery, or people will declare such pity for women who don’t revel in their “natural beauty” and make “I wish you didn’t feel like you have to cover yourself with makeup!” statements). It still feels incredibly about-faced that Disney both props up the princesses as the epitome of beauty and then seems to wonder with wide-eyes, “Why would anyone ever desire beauty and youth so much?”
The film was incredibly lacking in diversity- it’s almost like Disney had this mentality of, “Well, glad we got that covered in Princess and the Frog! Now time to get back to the good stuff, what our princesses really are. Blond, tiny, blue-eyed, white.” I mean, it’s pretty well documented that fantasy movies (and children’s movies in general) tend to be completely dominated by white faces. And considering that 51% of the babies being born in America in 2009 were not white, I think this is more than a bit problematic for the children who are actually watching Disney. This movie does not give them the chance to see someone like them being a part of the Disney magic. It’s like saying, “You can watch, and you can admire, but you cannot join us.” Disney is past the time now where they can “accidentally” make an all white cast.
And going off of that, women- just women- were incredibly underrepresented in this film, as you probably noticed. All the animals- male. All the “tough characters with dreams” in the tavern- male. Soldiers- male. Disney is also past the point where they can accidentally only have one prominent, non-evil, female character in their films.
I thought the ending was… so meh. There was really no reason to throw in the “So I bet you’re all wondering, did we get married?” narrative. And it especially irked me that not only did they feel a need to include it, but felt a need to position it as if the AUDIENCE is the one creating this, rather than the producers of the movie. Because honestly that was the last thing on my mind since like all the Disney princesses RAPUNZEL WAS STILL A YOUNG TEENAGER. It didn’t even seem to fit in with the general feeling of the movie, it was like a throwback to before the 1990s. There actually weren’t many in-film marriages in the past 2 decades and it seemed to reduce the entire film to, “The real goal is always marriage!” And a good point from Girlwpen: “The movie makes a POINT of emphasizing, [he] proposed to her, not the other way around.”
Basically I am just disappointed that they really have a chance to do a lot of new and exciting things to revive their genre, and instead they are pretty much following the incredibly well-trod patterns they have laid down for the past century of Disney animated films. Like what they did with Enchanted? It was overall, amazing. And sadly, still one of a kind for them.