Run Time: 100 minutes
Director: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
Overall, this film includes positive messages regarding gender roles, the body, and disability. This film receives 4 paws because it challenges a number cultural tropes in a positive way.
A kidnapped princess with magical hair and a thief go on an adventure to follow their dreams and find their true selves.
• Weapons-arrows, swords, daggers, axe
• Flynn is stabbed, visible blood
• Flynn cuts his hand, visible blood
• Rough-housing, fighting, shoving
• Striking people with a frying pan
• Visible noose
• Skeleton with sword through its chest
• Flynn momentarily dies
• Gothel is verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive
• Rapunzel is a very active female character and is depicted as the strongest character in the film. For example, Rapunzel regularly saves herself and Flynn, the lead male character, from dangerous situations (she saves Flynn at least three times). Further, although Rapunzel’s hair is a signifier of femininity, her magical hair is used as a tool to protect, save, and heal.
• Flynn is depicted as a damsel in distress and as a “wannabe” knight in shining armor, which goes against traditional gender roles regarding masculinity. For example, Flynn is often saved by Rapunzel and his good looks do not get him the girl.
• The king also challenges traditional gender roles regarding masculinity as he cries on his kidnapped daughter’s birthday and the queen comforts him by wiping his tears away.
• Other minor characters, such as the male characters in the pub, also challenge traditional gender roles regarding masculinity as they express the desire to participate in more traditionally feminine activities. For example, one of the characters would like to learn how to knit.
Sexual Orientation: N/A
• Minor characters with visible disabilities are shown in the film in an overall positive manner. For example, a man who uses a prosthetic hook is kind and is a talented pianist. This is important because the film is challenging the notion that disability is a signifier of immoral character.
• There are a wide variety of male body types shown in the film. For example, some characters can be understood as grotesque (prominent facial features, extra digits, fat bodies, old bodies); however, their bodies are not signifiers of their moral character as the grotesque characters are depicted as helpful, sensitive, and kind.
• There are no major or minor characters of color.
• There are no variations of sexual orientation.
• All female characters conform to ideal body types.
• Gothel, who is depicted as very old (and even grotesque) in the beginning of the film, is selfish, abusive, manipulative, and generally evil. This is problematic because old bodies are rarely visible in media and grotesque bodies are often associated with immorality.
Suggested talking points
• Often times in Disney films, the non-biological mother is depicted as evil. Gothel follows this trope. Are there any non- biological mothers in the media who challenge this trope? Are non-biological fathers depicted in the same way?
• Although Rapunzel is shown performing domestic activities (sweeping, baking, and sewing) in the beginning of the film, once she escapes the tower she proves herself to be even more capable than her male counterpart in feats of athleticism and strength.
• Aging, especially for women, is stigmatized in contemporary media. Although natural, aging is viewed as something to be ashamed of in society (it is depicted as “unnatural” and ugly). Gothel fears aging so much that she goes to extreme measures (kidnaps a child and refuses to let her leave the tower) to remain youthful.
• At the end of the film, it appears as if Rapunzel asked for Flynn’s hand in marriage; however, we find that Flynn is joking and actually asked for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage. How would you have felt if Rapunzel had asked Flynn to marry her?
Keywords: rapunzel, disney, animated, family, movie, review, 4 paws, four paws, princess, disability, musical