Tag Archives: Rapunzel

Penelope – A Review

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Last year at some point, a friend happened to turn on the tag end of the film Penelope. Though convinced to watch the next running of the show, I was less than enthusiastic about it. Too often films have a premise that sounds interesting, only to devolve into lectures on how we should despair, kick the bucket, or otherwise lie down and die. (Yeah, not my fictional forte, thank you very much.)

Anyway, I sat down to watch Penelope, and soon ate my thoughts about how bad this movie was going to be.

Penelope is a fairytale. It starts back in the nineteenth century, when the heir to a rich or “blue blood” family has a fling with one of the servants. She ends up pregnant and he declares to his family his intention to marry her. Well, the family “soon shows him how silly this idea” is and he marries a different woman, a rich heiress and fellow blue blood. Heartbroken, the serving girl kills herself and their baby. The young woman’s mother, a witch, curses the family in a bout of vengeful fury, promising that the first daughter born to this family of “blue bloods” will have the ears and nose of a pig.

No one really pays attention to the curse, mostly because the family line is passed down through the men after this happens. Then a perfectly normal, healthy girl is born in the family in about the 1940s. So much for that curse, right?

Eh, not exactly. Turns out the mother had an affair on the side, and so the girl was not actually related to her “father.”

Then we come to the modern day, when Penelope is born. She is, technically, the firstborn daughter in the family since it was hexed. And she has the ears and nose of a pig, just like the witch promised.

Both Penelope’s parents are upset by this turn of events, but her mother takes it far worse than her father. She goes to extremes to protect Penelope from the nosy press, blinding a reporter (played by Peter Dinklage) in one eye when he hides in the house and tries to snap a photo of her and her daughter. In order to put a stop to all the spying, Penelope’s mother fakes her daugher’s death, going so far as to cremate her coffin in order to make the swarm of reporters leave them alone. Far-fetched as this plan may seem, it actually works. The reporters disperse and the family becomes reclusive after their daughter’s “death.”

However, none of this eases the mother’s fears that someone will discover her daughter is still alive. So like Rapunzel in her tower, Penelope is raised inside her palatial house for the next twenty years or so. She is not even allowed on the mansion’s grounds; her mother has pictures in her windows of day and night skies complete with hillsides and flowers, so she can see something other than the backyard every morning and every evening. Penelope has never been outside the house for more than a few minutes during her entire life.

Penelope’s mother has placed all her bets on the promise of a cure for the curse; her daughter will have the nose and ears of a pig until a “blue blood” accepts her as one of their own – i.e., until a boy from “old money” marries her. To that end, her mother hires a professional matchmaker after training Penelope in all the arts of being a suitable bride from the time she can toddle.

When her daughter reaches marriageable age, suitors are called into an empty room with a mirror above the fireplace. This mirror is a one way window; Penelope stands on the other side and talks to the suitor, who cannot see through the mirror. After the beau of the day has finished proposing his undying love for her, Penelope leaves her secret room to talk to him directly.

Every one of her suitors runs off in fright when they see her pig nose (her hair hides her ears). They jump out of the second floor window or they run out the front door in an attempt to escape her. The family’s butler has to chase them down and drag them back to the house after this so they can sign a non-disclosure agreement, keeping Penelope’s secret. Then the whole process begins again the next day.

But one day the butler is not fast enough to catch an escaping suitor, who blabs about Penelope to the whole world. Everyone laughs at him, of course, except for Peter Dinklage’s reporter. He has never seen Penelope’s face, but he does not believe the story that she died and was cremated. He also holds a personal grudge against her mother for blinding him in one eye.

So with this suitor’s haphazard help, Dinklage hires the down-on-his-luck son of a “blue blood” (James McAvoy) to go see Penelope and secretly take a photo of her. What no one counts on, however, is the young man actually falling in love with her through their mirror conversations.

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Penelope eventually leaves her secret room to see how he will react to her face-to-face. He does not run away like the others until he triggers the hidden camera on his person. But even that would not be enough to dissuade the smitten Penelope, proved when she begs him to marry her and lift the curse.

For a long, heartbreaking moment, her knight in shining armor stares at her. You can see he wants to say yes, that he does love her in spite of the curse. But something makes him say he cannot marry her, though it is obvious he really, truly wants to do so.

The rest of the story you will have to discover yourselves, readers. I have spoiled the first twenty to thirty minutes here already. Before I go I have to say that the acting in this film is superb. This has to be one of McAvoy’s best performances – better than his Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe and far above his version of Professor X. (I say that because the X-Men movies are lousy, not as an attack on Mr. McAvoy.)

Most modern film fairytales are goofy and generally ruin or mock the genre. Penelope does not do that. It wears its fairytale label proudly, in my opinion, refusing to bow to the critics who try to make us think children’s stories are fluff and nonsense. It tells a great story which “kids from one to ninety-two” can enjoy and love. Even if romance films are not your thing, I think you ought to at least try Penelope. I did and, not only did I live to tell the tale, but I actually liked it and want to (someday) add it to my film collection.

Watch Penelope at your next opportunity, readers. It won’t kill you. ;P

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Tangled Cuts and Happily Ever After

Tangled is one of the best films that Disney has ever made.  But for some odd reason, they have decided to turn it into a television series.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the idea – I thought the movie ended things perfectly and, as a viewer, I was quite willing to leave it there.  But Disney has decided to make it a television series and at this point, there is no use arguing with them about it.

It’s not all bad news, though.  The series comes with some cute perks, especially its Tangled: Short Cuts.  These short episodes fill in time between the series’ events and they have been a hoot so far.  More are sure to come, but here are the ones that I have seen and enjoyed.  As a bonus, the short Tangled Ever After is included at the bottom of the post.


Prison Bake 


Make Me Smile


Check Mate


Tangled Ever After

A City with Rhythm (And Other Disney Favorites)

Those who have not seen at least one Disney movie in their lives are deprived people. Some probably do not even realize this fact! (Yes, Mr. Kilmeade, I am talking about you!)

So, for those who are deprived and for those of you who are old fans, here are some Disney songs to make you smile. They are a mixture of old and new; you will find Peter Pan and Elsa rubbing elbows below, whilst Rapunzel joins the other princesses for tea. And do not be surprised if a few Dalmatians and lions show up. This is Disney, after all! Anything is possible! 😉


The Mithril Guardian


Oliver & Co.

Why Should I Worry

Streets of Gold

You and Me

Why Should We Worry


Peter Pan

What Made the Red Man Red?

You Can Fly!

Following the Leader




Frozen Heart

Let It Go

Troll Song


The Lion King

The Circle of Life

I Just Can’t Wait to Be King

Hakuna Matata

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?



The Little Mermaid

Fathoms Below

Someday I’ll Be (Part of Your World)

Kiss the Girl

Under the Sea


Sleeping Beauty

Once Upon A Dream



We Can Do It (Song of the Mice)

So This Is Love



When Will My Life Begin?

I’ve Got a Dream

I See the Light

Something That I Want


101 Dalmatians

Cruella Deville


Beauty and the Beast

Be Our Guest

Gaston’s song

Song as Old as Time


The Aristocats

Everybody Wants to Be a Cat

Thomas O’Malley, the Alley Cat

Scales and Arpeggios The Aristocats

Light vs. Dark

Got Him!

Hello, DiNozzo!

Day seven of Torture Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo Week is finally here!!

Whew, what a relief!  As much fun as this has been for me, Tony, I have to admit that I thought I would run out of material before the week was out!  Some of my notes came as easily as the snap of my fingers.

The rest were a lot of work.  So I think that, unless you really tick me off, I’ll be able to forgo another Torture DiNozzo Week in the near future.  Give us both a breather.

So no more jokes about books or shortchanging me on food.  Got it?


Okay, let’s get to work.  What do I mean by Light vs. Dark?  This is a reference to Disney’s latest movie starring a princess: Tangled.  In case you’re wondering, the film is Disney’s retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale (and it’s about time they did it, too!).

In the story we have Rapunzel living in her tower, which she has called home for nearly eighteen years.  The woman keeping her here is Mother Gothel, a woman who has lived for centuries thanks to the magic of a special flower.

Okay, I have to back up a bit here.  See, the original fairy tale had Rapunzel’s mother craving a certain kind of vegetable when she became pregnant.  This got her husband in trouble when he picked the plant from a witch’s garden (this witch was also named Mother Gothel).  The witch later took the couple’s newborn baby girl as payment for the theft of the vegetable.

In the movie, the queen is pregnant when she becomes ill and may die.  In order to save her, the king sends his soldiers to find the magical flower that Mother Gothel secretly relies on to stay young and beautiful.

Trust me, without that flower she looks, well – dead.

Anyway, the flower is found and brought to the queen.  Not only does the flower save Rapunzel’s mother, it attaches its magic to the yet to be born Rapunzel.  This leads to Gothel kidnapping and raising Rapunzel as her own after she is born, so she can maintain her youth using the magic within Rapunzel.   This is why she lets Rapunzel’s hair grow to the fairy tale’s bizarre length.

I know.  I’ve lost you.  Give me a minute, okay?

You see, the magic of the flower is in Rapunzel’s hair.  So by the time Rapunzel is eighteen, her hair is seventy feet long!

That IS a lot of brushing, DiNozzo.  And no one knows that better than Rapunzel herself.

One element of the movie that struck me is how the two women effect changes in the people they meet and places they go.  This is because of either their inherent goodness or inherent wickedness.  Everywhere Rapunzel goes there is light.  When she sings (Tangled has some of the best song and dance routines I’ve seen in a Disney film in years) Rapunzel’s goodness literally lights up the room.  While cleaning up the tower, Rapunzel sings a song detailing her life in the cramped rooms at the top of the tower, and when she opens the widows the rooms are flooded with sunlight.

Later, when she meets her ‘Prince Charming,’ Flynn Rider, Rapunzel’s goodness and love changes his distrustful attitude.  Flynn is not your typical knight in shining armor.  He is, actually, a debonair thief.  Or at least he considers himself debonair.  (Watch the film, I’m not telling you what that means!)  He ducks into Rapunzel’s tower to escape the authorities after a job, at which time she knocks him out and hides the article he stole.  This is to make him take her on a trip to the kingdom to see a festival she has heard of but never witnessed.  As the story progresses, Rapunzel’s innocence and goodness gradually wears away the hard shell of cynicism surrounding Flynn, making him a real Prince Charming.  He’s definitely Disney’s most interesting beau of the current era.

Another scene which highlights Rapunzel’s ability to bring out the good in people is when she and Flynn end up in a tavern full of crooks.  These guys are all beefy, bearded men of dubious intent.  (Flynn notes that one fellow has “blood in his mustache” and invites Rapunzel to take a look at it.)  A couple of the tavern’s patrons are also missing an arm, a leg, or one of each.  And every last ruffian has weapons coming out of his ears.

But Rapunzel has less to fear from these men than Flynn does.  Flynn’s thieving lifestyle has put a large price on his head.  It’s a price everyone in the bar wants or needs to collect.  A struggle ensues, with each gronk tugging at a limb of Flynn’s body in attempt to run off with him and turn him in for the reward.  If Rapunzel hadn’t intervened when she did, there would have been no reason to pay anyone anything, because most of Flynn would have been gone!

In saving Flynn, Rapunzel’s innocent pleas awaken the hidden good in the tavern patrons, so much so that they later help Flynn rescue her from Mother Gothel.  Quite a change from when they were trying to turn him into a piñata, huh, Tony?

In contrast to Rapunzel, Mother Gothel shows she is selfish, vain, greedy, and willing to do anything to benefit herself.  Because of this she has the opposite effect on people and places that Rapunzel does.  The evidence of this lies in her hiding the magic flower in the first place, and then kidnapping Rapunzel to keep the power to herself again.  The way that Gothel convinces Rapunzel to stay in the tower before she leaves with Flynn is by frightening her with tales of how “dark and cruel” the outside world is supposed to be.  This leaves Rapunzel cowering on the floor on some occasions, such as the time when Gothel tells Rapunzel (via a song) that she cannot go outside on her eighteenth birthday.

Further proof is when she tries to scare Rapunzel out of falling in love with Flynn.  For a time she succeeds, but Rapunzel has matured too much through her outdoor experience for the effect to last.  So Gothel takes up the services of two of Flynn’s erstwhile sundry associates: the Stabbington brothers.  These two men go from petty criminals to nasty bloodhounds while they are in Gothel’s employ.  Also, whenever Gothel sings, the scenery dims and darkens.  Where Rapunzel brings the sunlight of innocence and love, Gothel darkens the beauty of the natural world with her vanity and greed.

The part of the movie that, ahem, ‘highlights’ this difference is the climax.  Here Rapuzel apparently loses the magic of the flower, at which point Gothel ages at a fantastic rate.  When she falls out the tower’s one window Gothel is screaming in horror at the ugliness caused by her age.  Rapunzel, despite learning her true identity and Gothel’s intentions for her, still attempts to save the old woman from death.  Hurt though she is by Gothel using her for her entire life, Rapunzel still attempts to help and heal the most terrible person she knows.  This proves, in the end, that her goodness is stronger than Gothel’s evil.

This distinction in personality makes Tangled one of the best Disney films to date.  And as I said, it has been a long time since Disney made a movie that wow-ed me with its signature song and dance routines.  The choreography for the tavern dance is especially dazzling.  I haven’t seen anything that good since I last watched a musical from the ‘thirties, ‘forties, or ‘fifties.  Another reason I harp on this feat is that Tangled is a completely computer generated film, making such a dance sequence no small accomplishment for the animators and writers!

So for story and plain old ‘camera magic,’ I highly recommend you take a look at Tangled, Tony.

You don’t really think I’d tell Gibbs, McGee, Ziva, Abby, Ducky, or Palmer about making you watch an animated film, do you?  Did I tell them that you saw Brave?  No, I did not.

And as it is, I didn’t say you had to watch Tangled.  I recommended it.  There is no order from me saying that you have to watch it.

I have to leave now.  As of tonight, Torture Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo Week is officially over.