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Submitted by on February 21, 2011 – 9:18 AM22 Comments

Sarah 36, Death Race 20; 16 of 24 categories completed

Super-likable and fun, especially Pascal the chameleon, Maximus the bloodhound horse, and the song in the highwaymen’s pub — until the end, where it loses its way a little bit. So the hair is crucial…until it isn’t? A single heartfelt teardrop works too? Would the script care to address either 1) the fact that Rapunzel has the power to raise the dead, or 2) whether that teardrop spent her powers, or she still has them, or what?

And would it have killed the movie to leave the line alone where Eugene says that, after asking and asking and asking, he finally said yes to a marriage proposal, instead of immediately making sure we know that he’s kidding? I understand why she couldn’t cut her own hair and set herself free, but why not let her do the proposing?

Minor quibbles, though. The writing of the “mother” is brilliant and a nice change from the customary Cruella-style villainess, and while Zachary Levi clearly can’t sing, he gives it a college try, and that works better for the material; sometimes, sincerity is more important in a song than skill. Sincerity might not cut it for Best Original Song, though, and for my money the nominated song isn’t the best one in the movie.

Six days to go; five features left to see, plus all the shorts. It’s possible for me to finish, but availability is a serious issue at this point — i.e., the closest theater that’s still running The Tempest is, no shit, in Maine, and a part of me is tempted to gonzo it up there, grab a lobster roll, tolerate some Shakespeare, and git ‘er done. Another part of me has driven to Maine on an unpaid quest before, and…you know. Maine is great. Driving to it from here is ass. Driving to it from here in the snow, in a Smart Car? “Death Race” isn’t supposed to be literal.

So, if you have a Tempest screener I can borrow, or live in Boothbay Harbor and would like to video-Skype me from the 7 PM show some night this week, email me pronto, because the Bard is my biggest obstacle at the moment.




  • Julie says:

    I totally agree with you about the ending–the mythology kind of fell apart, but not in an irreparable way. I felt like the writers could have found a better way to have Rapunzel save Flynn if they just gave it a few hours’ more thought.

    But yes–minor quibbles. Overall, the husband and I enjoyed it, and our 7- and 4-year-old daughters were in heaven. (The 4-year-old also agrees with you about Pascal and Maximillian.)

  • Chickwithmonkey says:

    Yes, all of that. I was loving the movie and the awesome depiction of Rapunzel’s conflict at leaving her abusive family and how she was determined to do things herself… and then dude cut her hair without asking. Really? He couldn’t have waited a second and said, “Please?” and have her nod or something, or even have her grab the knife and look at him and say, “Sorry” and him be all brave and say “Do it!” and let her make the choice. Didn’t quite ruin the entire movie for me (there’s a LOT of good in there that is sadly absent from many Disney movies) but definitely made me angry that in the end, other people are still making choices for her.

  • Liz says:

    Haven’t seen Tangled yet (Really want to though). I just wanted to say WORD, re: the drive to Maine. Although, if you’re going to Boothbay, you go directly past the venerable Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, only a short half hour or so from your destination…quite the reward, really…

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I got ice cream in Wiscasset once!

    Still: far.

  • Natalie says:

    Yeah, I was a bit irked by the things near the end that bothered you, and at first I was more than a bit cranky about the rando mythology they made up for the beginning of the story. Love how they neatly excised any wrongdoing for the King and Queen- no illicit raids on the witch’s garden, no dumbass promises reneged upon. But the charm of the story did win me over; months later “you broke my smolder” is still an in-joke at my house.

  • Mary says:

    I loved the fact this movie was thoroughly enjoyable for the adults accompanying the kids (or those in an Oscar death race). This is NOT the same thing as throwing in a few jokes/references that ONLY the grownups will appreciate (I’m looking at you, “Gnomeo and Juliet”). I am looking forward to the DVD release almost as much as the kiddos.

  • Monty says:

    You are wise to have saved a fun movie like this for the final week.

    Unless I unearth a new source for screeners, I’m going to wind up with six features I have no way to see. Well, five plus Incendies, which I’m probably not going to go up to Canada for.

  • Jaybird says:

    I would make you a lovely sandwich, were I in your neighborhood, just for throwing out “Git ‘er done”.

  • Rachel says:

    Red’s Eats is totally worth the drive to Maine! Not sure The Tempest is – but I’ve heard good things!

  • Natalie says:

    I liked this movie, although I found the chameleon buddy completely expendable. The animal star was clearly the cranky/awesome horse.

    I liked the handling of the witch up until the end. It was clear to me that she really did love Rapunzel, not just as a magical item, so even though the things she did were really fucked up it seemed unbelievable to me that Rapunzel wasn’t sad at all about the only mother she’s even known’s gruesome death.

  • Mabel says:

    @ Monty – Incendies is worth the trip to Canada. It is amazing. I haven’t seen the rest of the foreign film candidates (so take this with a grain of salt), but if Incendies doesn’t win, I may have to march down to the US to give the voters a piece of my mind.

  • JennyB says:

    @Mabel – good to know! It’s on my short list of possible movies for tomorrow night. I can’t help but think that Biutiful has Best Foreign all sown up, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Incendies. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

  • Monty says:

    Mabel, there’s a good chance that by the time Saturday comes around, I’ll have talked myself into a day trip to Vancouver. There’s an aesthetic appeal to seeing a Foreign Film nominee by going to the country it was made in.

  • Erin W says:

    You guys are stronger willed than me. I have several unseen Oscar movies playing around the corner from my house and I have lost the urge to go. Would certainly not drive to another state/country.

  • Ian says:

    I feel your pain. I finished the Oscar Death Race last year (literally minutes before the ceremony began, in a sleep-deprived fog of half-remembered movies), and had grand ambitions to do the same this year.

    Alas, The Tempest high-tailed it out of DC theaters in a hurry, and as far as I can tell, Touchstone elected to not do screeners at all for the film. It wasn’t among the batches of awards screeners I received throughout December, and even a check of the less-than-legal purveyors of movies online, where these things generally end up when there are any screeners floating about, reveals zilch. (Not that I would ever, ever take advantage of a movie posted on such a site!) I resigned myself a good week ago to the fact that this year was going to be a bust; as a result, I even bailed on the single local screenings of Incendies and In a Better World over the weekend. So I’m coming up three short this year.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Ian: Yeah, that one’s impossible. I have pretty good contacts for screeners, but nobody got that one or Country Strong, it seems like. I managed to wedge myself into official screenings for a couple of the Best Foreign entries, or that would be a bust too — and I understand that intellectual-property concerns are in play here, but it does seem like they should be a little freer with the screeners if they want the shit to get seen. Taymor in particular could use the press for something other than Spider-Man: The Debacle With Songs. Not that she controls it; I’m just saying.

  • Ian says:

    Luckily, Country Strong was still playing here in DC a couple of weeks ago, so I was still able to check that off my list. Well, not sure how lucky it was, since I did have to sit through it. Actually, I was supposed to review that one for NPR, and talked directly to the film’s PR people about coverage, and they basically told me that Screen Gems doesn’t do screeners under any circumstances.

    I run into that kind of policy every now and then, and just can’t comprehend it. Particularly since the major studios send out hundreds of the things for movies that are probably in high demand for pirating, yet the no-screeners policy always seems to be these medium-sized distributors with titles that don’t exactly have thousands of people combing through torrent sites trying to find them; like Country Strong, or Jack Goes Boating, which was another one last year that turned down coverage because its distributor had a strict no-screeners policy.

    Anyway, good luck with the rest of the Death Race, and I’m looking forward to reading your liveblogging of the Oscars Sunday with Linda and Joe!

  • Monty says:

    Missing out on The Tempest is really annoying to me, because it was a movie I wanted to see when it came out. But I wasn’t quick enough, and I think it was only out for a week. I won’t feel as bad about not seeing Hereafter, because I couldn’t have been expected to predict it getting nominations.

  • Allison says:


    I see what you’re saying re: saviing herself, but there was no way Rapunzel would have opted to cut her own hair in that moment. She had just made a deal to give up her whole life in order to save him, and she knew he was against the plan, so having her relent and cut her own hair would have made no sense within the narrative.

    Also, that moment where he cuts her hair and gives up his own life for hers? Totally made me cry. In fact, it was one of four or five scenes in the movie that made me cry. Sitting there in the darkened theater, next to my three-year-old niece, sniffling into my popcorn napkins. It might as well all come out.

  • FloridaErin says:

    Ah, you had me with the quibbles (I adored this movie and cried through the last half of it, but I agree with you on a lot of points) until “Zachary Levi can’t sing”. He’s had some musical theater training in his background and I was surprised by his voice. Does he get burnt by the talent of the other singers? Maybe, but I think he does a more than passable job, and this is coming from someone who can’t tolerate bad singing. He definitely outdoes Ewan in “Moulin Rouge!”, who is my benchmark for the sincere but inexperienced vocalist.

    Honestly, I could be blinded a bit by my raging crush on him. :-) Still, should be interesting to see them do it at the Oscars. Check out his duet with Katherine McPhee on “Terrified” if you want another sample.

  • Jennifer says:

    I’m with Allison. I have a mother much like Gothel and given the guilt trips and “it’s you and me against the world, baby” that she got brought up with, there’s no way Rapunzel would have said yes to cutting her own hair. Nuh. Uh.

    Loved this movie. I relate to it in many scary ways, and yet it is adorable.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I saw on Wikipedia that he had experience in musical theater, but roles in regional productions of Grease and Oliver! as a kid are not super-convincing to me. He wasn’t off-key or anything, but sounded tentative and amateurish — again, charming in context, but I suspect that a singer of more ability would have gotten more to do.

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