It seemed only natural to add Rapunzel to a long line of Disney princesses—first Snow White, and later Princesses Aurora, Ariel, and Jasmine. But this is a new decade, and a newer Disney.
Director Nathan Greno tells “Entertainment Weekly” that the idea to have the dashing thief Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi) play a more present male lead came about organically. “The original intention was to make a film more closely related to something like Cinderella, where your main character is Cinderella, and there’s also a prince that’s in the movie that shows up once in a while,” said Greno.
But the focus turned to Rapunzel and Ryder as a pair and where both were equally necessary to the story they wanted to tell. And they needed a title to reflect it. “Just as you wouldn’t call “Toy Story” “Buzz Lightyear,” we really needed a title that represented what the film is,” Greno explained, “and that it’s a duo, and it stars Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder.”
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Byron Howard also addressed the rumors that the name change had to do with trying to get boys to go see a so-called “Princess” movie. (Disney’s last animated flick, “The Princess and the Frog,” had a modest success). Howard said that this had been their plan from early on. “I think we really did come to the conclusion that it was about two people, and so it became stranger and stranger to us to just call it by her name.”
The movie, as New York Times film critic A.O. Scott notes, is like “entering a familiar old neighborhood that has been tastefully and thoroughly renovated. Not gentrified, exactly, and certainly not razed, but modernized.” He writes that much of the movie, and certainly touchstones like the cute animal sidekicks and amusing show tunes are still very much part of the package. (Though the story is certainly a far cry from the original Brothers Grimm story of witches and radishes.)
“Tangled” ranked high at the box office this weekend, only a few million dollars behind the latest “Harry Potter” behemoth. It would seem, with its re-imagined storyline and new take on old material, Disney is going to great lengths to keep their movies fresh, and, like Rapunzel’s flaxen hair—growing strong.