We’ve reached the end of our weeklong debate between myself (Gene) and Aaron Galvin on which is the better animated princess movie: Frozen or Tangled. After going through one topic per day for the last week, it’s time for our closing arguments…
Aaron – Tangled
In this closing debate, and as I mentioned in my opening arguments, I predict Gene will undoubtedly try to manipulate you with box-office numbers and awards. Since he hasn’t done it yet this past week, I assume he’ll attempt it now.
I can’t say that I blame Gene for such a strategy. That’s what I would do if I were him and had no other case to argue. But lest he sway some of you with such drivel, consider these points:
1) Frozen sits in the Top 10 of highest-grossing films alongside such critically acclaimed films as Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Transformers: Age of Extinction.
2) Frozen won its Oscar competing against Ernest & Celestine and The Wind Rises, while Tangled lost to arguably the great animated film of all-time, Toy Story 3. (Did I mention Gene agrees with this point?)
3) Last year’s top selling author, E.L. James netted $95 million for her 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, a series lambasted by critics and audiences alike.
4) The Academy Awards acknowledged snubbing the Best Picture-worthy film The Dark Knight by increasing the number of nominees the following year.
All that to say, awards and box-office numbers doesn’t necessarily mean you have a good story. Sometimes fads catch. Some awards seasons contain heavy hitters, while others are decidedly less competitive.
The best stories serve a higher purpose than entertainment alone. They stay with us after we’ve left the theatre, or read the last page of a thrilling book – (cue shameless self-promotion).
As a father, I find it ironic how Disney films have changed for me. I look for deeper meaning and wonder what lessons my daughter will glean from them. One of the first questions I had after watching both Tangled and Frozen was which of these heroines would I proudly call daughter, or wish to see a son marry someday?
Each viewing strengthens Rapunzel as my favored one.
She’s curious for life and experiences, rather than love alone. Even when a suave guy like Flynn happens along, he can’t sway Rapunzel through beauty or one-liners. It’s only when he proves his affections through his actions that he gains her love. What father doesn’t hope for a daughter like that?
I’ve mentioned this next point in previous arguments, but it’s relevancy bears repeating: through Rapunzel, Tangled teaches our children not to judge others by appearance. Many of us would be frightened if walking into a den of thieves, yet Rapunzel teases from them the idea that even the roughest folk dream of higher callings. She’s not alone in this lesson. On Thursday, I noted even the stalwart Maximus learns to see people for who they can become when he rescues his former nemesis, Flynn Rider.
But there is one scene in Tangled that speaks to me with every viewing. I’ve included it below and urge you watch it. In less than three minutes, Tangled speaks to something greater than love, dreams, or even the quest for knowledge. This scene highlights a universal need in all our lives:
Tell me you didn’t feel something watching that scene, and I’ll say you have a Frozen heart.
My opponent might argue Anna longs for this too. He’d also continued his neglect that she and Elsa are under self-imposed isolation. But while Anna mopes and Elsa put her subjects at risk, Rapunzel altered her community for the better.
Most people went about their daily lives prior to Rapunzel’s arrival. Like many of us, they’re mired in the familiar – their jobs, to-do lists, etc. Rapunzel’s zest for life and ability to view the world anew snaps them from their assumed drudgery, waking them to the simple pleasures taken for granted. She paints. She revels in a library full of books. But then she does something even more important – she joins the community.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that people – all people – wish to be part of something and included. Needed.
Tangled reveals these points when Rapunzel pulls hesitant people in and makes them part of her ever-expanding circle. We see them smile, join in, and all the while, Rapunzel’s influence grows – her positivity and thirst for life infecting all around her.
Those are the biggest lessons I want my daughter to take from this film – what you do, what you say…it all matters.
The world seems a big place and will try to beat you down. Chase your dreams anyway. Feed your curiosity by seeking out new experiences, and your thirst for learning with more books.
Oh, and should anyone stand between you and your pursuit of those things, (especially a guy) – knock them over the head with a frying pan, darlin’.
Gene – Frozen
If you haven’t been convinced by now that Frozen rules the day then now is my final chance to convince you. I’ve made a lot out of Frozen not fitting the typical mold of Disney princess films. In fact, it rides the back of that mold only to springboard into something greater. The love story is atypical, the villain has you rooting for him for half the film, the music (individual songs and the overall score) is Oscar and Grammy winning, the sidekicks are classics and the life lessons hit on eternal truths. I’ll admit that much of this is subjective and often comes down to simple personal preference. So let’s turn from the subjective and look at some straight up factual comparisons to conclude this debate.
Frozen is the highest grossing animated film in history, pulling in over $1.2 billion worldwide. Tangled comes in a paltry 22nd place, grossing less than half that of Frozen. So according to the all-important dollar, Frozen takes the cake. And lest you think our ice princesses simply had all the money behind them, think again. Frozen accomplished these records with an estimated budget of $150 million. Not small by any measure. What’s ironic here is that while Tangled’s sweet-hearted thief was wishing he were surrounding by enormous piles of money, he actually was. Tangled had an estimated budget of $260 million according to IMDb. So Frozen raked in over 9 times its budget, while Tangled barely doubled theirs. And remember, this is box office. This is people going to see the film, not buying all the merchandise that comes afterwards, which itself is only a result of the success of the film.
Another factual measure of the worth of a movie is the hardware it brings home. Tangled racked up 8 wins and another 37 nominations. Frozen on the other hand took home an amazing 71 wins and another 54 nominations. Folks, it’s not even close. This isn’t like the difference in first and second place. This is like the difference between first place and a pat on the shoulder with a “thanks for coming.”
For movie awards specifically, the highest acclaimed awards are the Academy Awards (Oscars) and the Golden Globes. Tangled got one nomination from the Oscars for Best Original Song (note: ignored by the Academy for Best Animated Film), and two from the Globes for Best Animated Film and Best Original Song. It finished awards season 0/3 from these two major ceremonies. How did Frozen do? It won the Oscar for Best Animated Film and Best Original Song. It won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Film and was nominated for Best Original Song. That’s 3/4. Last I checked, a 75% success rate was better than 0%.
“But Toy Story 3”, I can already hear you Tangled minions shouting. Well, that’s fine. Toy Story 3 did come out the same year as Tangled and was competing with it for awards. So if you want to make the argument that the competition was just too hard and that’s why Tangled didn’t win as much, then I guess you’re free to do that. You’ll just have to reduce yourself to this first…
Maybe Rapunzel was just never taught that nobody likes a whiner.
Unique in both Frozen and Tangled is their reliance on song. So, I think looking at the Grammy awards is a fair comparison as well. Tangled did finally show up to the competition here as it won the Grammy for Best Song and was also nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack. How did Frozen do? Oh, you know, it only won the Grammy for each of those categories while also being nominated for the Best Score Soundtrack. So it would seem that while the people “in the know” would agree that both films have strong individual songs, Frozen has an edge in overall body of musical work.
Made more money. Won more awards. I know those things aren’t always the indicators of a better film. I would be the first to tell you there are heaps of low-budget/independently made films that are better than any blockbusters. But we’re not talking about independent vs. major studio. We’re talking about two Disney blockbuster animations. It’s a fair comparison in this case. If I had another 300 words I would elaborate on the cultural impact that Frozen has had which is utterly absent out of Tangled. But I’m sure you are all aware of that.
In every category discussed this week Aaron had to resort to mischaracterization to shine a light on Tangled. He repeatedly took more time ridiculing Frozen than making positive arguments for Tangled. He cornered himself into comparisons with Kanye West and Joel Osteen in the same week. And he repeatedly made the silly and unfair claims that Frozen either has no love story or it has no villain. Aaron just refuses to face the fact that Frozen is superior to Tangled. I hope you don’t all make the same mistake.
Thus concludes our battle! We have both had a lot of fun with this debate series, and we hope you have as well. To begin this week we asked you to vote for which of these movies was your favorite before hearing any of our arguments. Now, after you’ve heard from both sides, we’d like you to vote again and let us know if you’ve been swayed. So after reading and analysis of the love story, the villais, the music, the sidekicks and the life lessons, which is your favorite?