ScreenTime: Tangled Is Better Than Frozen, You Morons

Frozen is a smash hit. I don’t need to tell you this. It made $1.3 billion at the box office and countless more in merchandise. Tangled? Not so much. It made less than half of Frozen’s haul at the box office and trying to find a Flynn Rider doll at your local Toys ‘R Us is like trying to find a chameleon in an Army Surplus store. No home is free from the scourge of Let It Go, which is heard daily in my house, hourly at the weekends.

YouTube

But when it comes to Frozen: The Movie, my daughter couldn’t care less. Cries for Tangled ring out nearly as often as requests for “Padda“, but she hasn’t asked for “Elsa” once since she first saw it a few months ago.

Upon delving into the finer details of my precious offspring’s lack of interest, it became clear that her issue was one of representation. Specifically that Disney‘s 2010 offering did not contain enough characters of the equine persuasion. But this is, frankly, untrue. There are many horses in Frozen. Prince Hans has a horse, as does Anna, and there are several background equestrians in many key scenes. But none of these scenes bring effervescent joy to my daughter’s face like the moment in Tangled where the palace horse Maximus engages in a sword-fight with renowned thief Flynn Rider, who is armed only with a frying pan. 

YouTube

One could argue that this scene resonates so strongly merely because of the spectacle of a horse wielding a sword. But while such pageantry is impressive at first blush, it rarely holds up to multiple revisits. No, the power in this scene comes from beyond this cheap thrill. The power comes from the clash not of steel upon cast iron, but of idea upon idea, of dream upon dream. For Flynn desires nothing more than complete freedom, liberty from the hardship of everyday life, from his past, from law of the land, while Maximus’ ideals run directly counter to such libertarianism. The Rule of Law, Order, Peace. These are the things our noble steed desires. So when he crosses swords with the roguish Flynn, they fight not because of some plot contrivance, but because the fight is inevitable, because to fight is encoded in their very nature. 

YouTube

In contrast, the big action set-piece in Frozen sees our heroes Anna & Kristoff face off against an abomination of snow & ice, who’s inner life is not even hinted at. Does the frozen creature hate simply because he is created to do so? Does he wish to protect his creator, whom he truly loves? Or does he chase the interlopers halfheartedly, resigned to his lot in life, but without any real passion for his job? We will never know, because Frozen is uninterested in telling us.

This is emblematic of the difference between the two movies, one has depth of theme, character, and motivation, while the other has a lumbering snow-monstrosity whose dead eyes taunt the audience with their emptiness.

YouTube

This creature stumbles through scenes, grimacing and screaming, with no purpose or reason for existence. His cruel creation, ripped from black nothingness into a tenuously connected collection of geometric shapes and inexplicable whims is a twisted corruption of Frozen’s own inception, seemingly Frankensteined together from jarringly unrelated song fragments. Every moment he is on screen he taunts us with his own impossibility, mugging and “joking” his way through an existence that must be as painful for him endure as it is for us to witness. And then he starts to sing.

When Tangled’s characters sing of their dreams in the modern classic “I Have A Dream”, those dreams speak to the very core of who they are. Thugs and ruffians with hearts of gold, orphans so scared of being hurt again they can’t stop running, young women who yearn to discover who they are. They dream of lives free of constraint, of freedom from the prisons of expectation and judgement. We sing along with them because their dreams are our dreams, their frustrations our frustrations.

YouTube

When Olaf sings of his dreams, those dreams speak only to his emptiness. Olaf’s desire for “Summer” may match up neatly with Anna’s desire to end Elsa’s winter, but it isn’t motivated by real character growth or thematic depth. To empathize with Olaf’s dreams we must accept one of two premises:

1) He doesn’t know what Summer is, and so his desire for it is completely shallow, a wish for the baubles and trappings of a season that has absolutely no meaning to him.

or

2) He is very aware of what Summer is, and is performing ignorance to hide the dark nature of his cravings. He knows full well that the heat of Summer will destroy him, finally releasing him from his meaningless immortality.

YouTube

Either option reveals thematic underpinnings to “Summer” (and hence the character of Olaf) that have absolutely nothing to do with the purported themes of Frozen, and in the case of option number 2, directly oppose those themes.

It is here that we reveal the real difference between Frozen and Tangled: Tangled is ABOUT something, Frozen is not. Every scene, every character, every song in Tangled have something to say about its themes. Hope, Dreams, and Freedom. Lost Time and Past Mistakes. Tangled’s approach to these things can be summed up in a single moment.

When King Frederick & Queen Arianna are lighting their lantern in the ceremony to commemorate the lost princess, the King looks at his wife. He suddenly looks old, tired, hurt. The camera lingers, no words are exchanged. In this silent moment we feel all the time that has gone by and all the hopes and dreams that have been dashed by that lost time. It is a moment that subtly but powerfully reinforces not only the motivations of the King, the Queen and Rapunzel, but also the deeper themes of the movie.

Frozen doesn’t have any moments like this. It wouldn’t know how. For a start, Frozen doesn’t have the time to spend on such quiet contemplation, it’s too busy filling its time with gags and songs. More importantly, upon what topic would it meditate? What, at its heart, is Frozen about?

Sure, the final scenes of Frozen are about sisterly love, but what does “Frozen Heart” or “Let It Go” or Summer” have to say about that topic? The romantic arc of the movie deliberately subverts the Disney Prince archetype, but what do Duke of Weasleton or Elsa or Olaf have to do with that idea? Elsa’s story can be read as a coming out metaphor, but what does Anna’s relationship with Kristoff or Olaf’s desire for summer have to say about coming out? Frozen contains all these things, but it is about none of them.

It seems that my daughter, unlike the general public, requires not only more horses, but more depth from her entertainment. This is some thing Frozen cannot deliver.

Jim Gaffigan Has Something to Say About Beer

(Getty/master1305/Tom Briglia)

A general rule of thumb when making small talk: Don’t talk about religion, politics, or beer preferences.

All three are bound to erupt into heated debates. In the dad community beer in particular tends to be an extremely touchy subject. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what makes a beer amazing or downright sacrilegious, and comedian Jim Gaffigan is no different.

You’re either in full agreement with Jim’s purist perspective or cracking your knuckles to write a scathing comment touting your superior craft beer palate.

But that’s the great thing about beer, nay… America. We all have individual tastes. Just because some guy doesn’t share your affinity for a specific brew, that doesn’t mean he’s wrong (even though he is!) It just means you get to connect with someone with a differing perspective, while drinking beer!

So, if you see Jim in a bar, don’t make fun of him for his taste in beer. Instead, buy him a round, and make fun of his age – like an adult.

Cheers, Jim!

Back To School Photo Fails

(Facebook.com/DaveHannem)

Parents love to capture the moment on the first day back to school, but sometimes that moment isn’t what we envisioned. Check out these hilarious back to school photo fails from The Dad community.

(Instagram.com/cheeksmagee)
(Facebook.com/KellySmith)
(Instagram.com/abbyjmccoy)
(Instagram.com/instagramycohen)
(Facebook.com/DaveHannem)
(Instagram.com/JoyScribner)
(Instagram.com/bullitt.with.a.name)
(Facebook.com/KristenMadral)
(Instagram.com/heatherdtomlinson)

Dad Grades – Hal from Malcolm in the Middle

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Years before his dark turn as meth kingpin Heisenberg, Bryan Cranston starred as Hal on the criminally under-appreciated sitcom, Malcolm in the Middle. While his sadistically overbearing wife, Lois, was perpetually at wits end with their four mischievous sons, the much more care-free Hal happily took the passenger seat in their parenting roles.

DAD STRENGTHS

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Hal is a loving husband and father. He shows Lois affection through raw animalistic passion and utter dependence. He even admits to it, once telling Lois that he and their boys are not smart enough to function without her, and in return can only offer his total obedience.

He takes a much calmer, more sympathetic approach to parenting than Lois. She has a short fuse, at the end of which is a barrel of dynamite eager to ground someone for the rest of their life. Hal, conversely, seizes any opportunity to bond with his boys by having a sit-down and doling out fatherly words of wisdom.

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

He’s far more lenient, but will raise his voice and put his foot down when necessary. He’s often creative in his punishments. For example, when Malcolm told him “[bleep] you,” Hal sat him down in the backyard and forced him to look him in the eyes and read aloud a comprehensive list of every vile swear words, teaching him their power.

His biggest strength, however, is his laid-back, often immature attitude. It serves as a refreshing palate cleanser for Lois’ incessant shouting. He is truly the yin to her yang.

DAD WEAKNESSES

He’s more permissive than his wife. In one episode, Hal surprises the boys by letting them skip school to accompany him at some stock car races.

Hal’s lax approach to parenting is, regrettably, his biggest weakness. His spontaneity and often childish behavior sets a bad example for his sons. Case in point: the steamroller. After winning some money on a scratch-off, Hal secretly rents a steamroller.

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

When Dewey catches him, Hal agrees to let him steamroll over Reese’s bike. Ultimately, Hal goes mad with power and Dewey must talk him down from steamrolling a row of cars. Surely this gave Dewey license to misbehave in the future. His impulsive nature is typically harmless, but still sets precedent for the delinquency of his kids.

VERDICT

Despite shortcomings at the cost of his need to be the parent his sons actually like, Hal is a great father. Sure, all four of his sons are rambunctious hellions, disobedient and destructive at every turn, but that’s predominantly the result of their stubborn, temperamental mother. He’s a big-hearted working stiff, determined to provide for his family however dysfunctional they may be.

FINAL DAD GRADE: A-

Dancing Dad Embarrasses Daughter at Baseball Game [VIDEO]

Being a dad involves a lot of anxiety, drudgery, and stress. Sometimes you get to enjoy the perks of parenting, like embarrassing your children on television. Or in the stands at a Cubs game.

Or both!

This dad knows what’s up. He ignores his daughter’s attempts to get him to stop dancing and then doubles down on the silly moves.

Father Figures: Be Positive

“My twin girls (Faye and Felicia) are both autistic.

Felicia was diagnosed before she was three; she’s non verbal and loves life in her own wee bubble. Once she lets you in, it’s amazing. That’s her circle of trust.

Faye is her total opposite, always singing and chatting up a storm. Once they started preschool, we found out that Faye was showing signs of autism that we perhaps overlooked because she was so advanced.

My wife and I, with the assistance of Faye’s teachers, pushed hard to get her assessed, reassessed and diagnosed. Faye is very smart and fooled the specialist in the first assessment regarding extra help in school. We were very lucky when she was diagnosed, because the specialist ASD doctors could still recognize her traits.

It’s been a long journey and no two days are alike. Through it all we’ve learned that Faye is just a younger, female version of her older brother. From her diagnosis, we were able to recognize the ASD traits in Jordan. He is now beginning the diagnostic process.

But long story short, both our girls now attend an autism unit in a special school. It’s a God send and they are both doing great! They turned 6 in August and Jordan will be 11 this December.

Be positive and always make sure your child gets all they need. Raising a child with special needs definitely puts into perspective what’s important in life!

Everything for the kids!”

– Nic Young

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

8-Year-Old Girl Stuns Crowd at Harlem Globetrotters Game [VIDEO]

(YouTube/Harlem Globetrotters)

When the Harlem Globetrotters called Samaya Clark-Gabriel onto the court at halftime of their game, the crowd at Madison Square Garden wasn’t sure what to expect. But at this stage in a Globetrotters game it would certainly take a lot to impress them.

First she just started dribbling.

But then she started dribbling two basketballs at once. And then she started dribbling two basketballs at once while wearing a blindfold. And then she started dribbling two basketballs at once while wearing a blindfold and DOING A SPLIT.

Wow. Did they sign her yet?

Big Dad Rides Small Bike as a Tribute to Late Daughter

(JustGiving/Peter Williams)

Peter Williams of Penzance, England is showing incredible strength after the loss of his daughter. On Friday at 10am, he began a 211-mile ride to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity.

In 2015, Peter lost his 7-year-old daughter, Ellie, to a rare form of brain cancer, only six months after she was diagnosed.

To honor his daughter he decided to begin his ride at Bristol Children’s Hospital where Ellie was treated. He’s also making the entire trip on her little pink bike, which is only 20″ high. Given Peter is 6 feet tall, that’s going to make for an additional challenge, but he’s up for it.

Aside from a small modification to the bike’s seat, he’ll be riding the bike as-is. “My knees clear the handlebars by about half an inch so it’s going to be really tight, but it’s a great bike,” he told the BBC. When he factors in his unique mode of transportation Peter estimates the ride from Bristol to Land’s End will take him a week to complete.

Ellie loved cycling and impressed her dad at age three, when she was able to ride without training wheels.

(JustGiving/Peter Williams)

The bike he’ll be riding was her pride and joy – a present she received for her last Christmas.

So far Peter has raised £23,349 (roughly $30K US) through his JustGiving campaign, already doubling his £10,000 target.

What a guy! What a dad! Go, Peter, go!

If you’d like donate to Peter’s campaign, visit his JustGiving page.

If you want to learn more about where the money is going, check out The Brain Tumour Charity.