Tangled – Movie Review: “I had a dream…once”

Tangled – Movie Review

Review by Stacey Tuttle

As I think about Tangled, I am torn about which angle or issue to discuss.  There is the fascination with beauty which is perhaps the most obvious.  There is the strange relationship she has with this false mother—but that is rather convoluted, difficult to tackle and perhaps not as helpful in the normal scheme of life.  There is the issue of Rapunzel’s blatant disobedience against whom she thinks is her mother.  Again, it’s complicated because the audience knows it’s not her mother but her kidnapper.  So, we don’t mind that she is disobeying an evil kidnapper, so long as our children don’t confuse disobeying your kidnapper with disobeying your mother.  And Rapunzel’s disobedience pays off for her in the end, so it’s potentially another complicated message—if you lose track of the fact that her “mother” is an evil captor.  I, however, would like to take a second to focus on something different—the idea of having a dream.

Rapunzel’s first encounter with people on the “outside” is in a pub full of thieves and thugs.  They are big, burly and a little intimidating.  But Rapunzel disarms them when she questions, “Haven’t you ever had a dream?”  It’s a Disney film, so enter a hilarious musical number about these thieves and thugs who once had dreams—dreams of being mimes, florists, bakers and concert pianists.   “Count me with the dreamers, like everybody else I’ve got a dream” the thugs sing. 

Like everybody else, I’ve got a dream.  Or at least – they HAD a dream, once.  That’s what starts the musical number off, a thug with a hook for a hand confesses, “I had a dream…once.”  He wanted to be a concert pianist.  But now, he’s a bad guy.  All these bad guys are confessing that at one point in time they had better dreams, higher aspirations. 

So what happened?  Why did all these guys with all these various dreams all end up doing something so much less?  Why did they become criminals, thugs and thieves?  The movie doesn’t really offer any answers.  I suspect that the answer is pretty simple.  Somewhere along the way, for whatever reason, they forgot their dream.  Maybe it was because they got disappointed and discouraged and gave up on their dream.  Was it too hard to make it happen?  Were they made fun of?   Did someone come and offer a lesser substitute dream?   I don’t know.  But for whatever reason those dreams were buried, set aside and forgotten. 

Forgotten but not gone.  It took one person to come along and resurrect those dreams.  One little pure-hearted dreamer named Rapunzel came along and her challenge, “Haven’t you ever had a dream?” awakened those longings.  In the end, the thugs all become productive members of society living out their dreams.  Beautiful.  Change came about because someone encouraged their dreams. 

The Bible says that, “Without a vision, people perish” (Proverbs 19:18).  For one reason or another, the thieves had lost their vision for the life they dreamed of living.  Because they had no vision, they took the easy way and turned to a life of crime.  When someone helped them find their dreams again, it restored their vision for something greater and their lives were changed. 

It’s a bit simplistic, I realize.  It’s not always that easy.  Having a dream for a career isn’t necessarily going to change the heart of every criminal and free of us a need for jails.  And some dreams “stink” – Flynn Ryder had a stinky dream; even the thugs could see that.  But Flynn’s life changed too.  Not because he got to live in the castle, which was his initial dream, but because Rapunzel helped him find a better dream.  And maybe that is the key, or at least a key – helping people find a better dream, a better vision. 

Here’s my challenge.  We have a problem.  We have no end of thieves and thugs in the world.  While finding a dream may not be the only solution to the problem, it’s undoubtedly part of the solution.  Another part of that solution is helping people dream better dreams, worthy dreams.  Finally, we need to encourage people to keep dreaming.  If they have a dream, encourage it.  If they’ve forgotten or buried their dream, help them find and resurrect it. 

But to do this, it means that you and I have to have a dream ourselves.  We have to dream of making a difference in the world.  We have to believe that it is possible for people’s lives to change.  We have to believe that our actions can be instrumental in that change.  If we don’t believe that, then we will never get involved.  We will never reach out and become truly productive members of society ourselves. 

Questions for Discussion

  • What were your childhood dreams? 
  • If you could do anything, what would it be?
  • What dreams have you given up on?
  • What dreams have you had which were really worthy?  Have you had dreams which weren’t worthy…dreams which “stunk”?
  • What makes a dream a truly good, truly worthy dream?
  • Do you think that helping others dream good dreams (and pursue them) will make a difference in their lives?
  • Do you think that some of our “thieves and thugs” are a result of having no dreams or just really bad dreams/goals?