By the time we reach the reprise of “Mother Knows Best,” a lot has changed in Rapunzel’s world. For one, she’s met the dashing thief Flynn Rider, who is “persuaded” to take Rapunzel to see the floating lights that come from the nearby kingdom each year, in exchange for a beautiful crown that Flynn actually stole from the royal castle (it actually belongs to Rapunzel, but of course she doesn’t know that, not yet anyways). Mother Gothel, having discovered that Rapunzel is gone from the tower (and desperately needing the magic in her hair to stay young), sets off in pursuit and finally catches up to them one night.
Promptly cornering Rapunzel, she is amused to hear that Rapunzel believes that Flynn likes her, but when she tries to lure the young lady back with a tentative line from “Mother Knows Best”, Rapunzel cuts her off with a sharp “NO!” And that little outburst is what triggers the reprise of “Mother Knows Best.”
Gothel is increasingly nasty in this scene, the veneer of a “caring mother” being worn as thin as it can get without disappearing altogether. She mocks Rapunzel, stating that no one could fall in love with her, that all Flynn really wants is the crown, and if Rapunzel calls him out on it, she’ll see the truth. Gothel leaves, but not without one last warning to Rapunzel:
“If he’s lying, don’t come crying/Mother knows best!!”
I absolutely love this scene, it reads exactly like a scene from a Broadway musical might (and who knows, perhaps Tangled will join the list of Disney films adapted for Broadway some day). I love singing the part of Mother Gothel, because you have to be seemingly sweet and cruel at the same time. Gothel knows it won’t be long before she starts to age again, and she’s increasingly frustrated that Rapunzel won’t simply come back with her. I know this was just a reprise (and therefore meant to be short) but I enjoy it so much I wish it was longer every time I hear it.
See also: Tangled “Mother Knows Best” (2010)
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