Movie Review: Brave

 Grade: B+

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly

I wanted to see “Brave” before I realized that it was the first Disney-Pixar princess and the first Pixar female lead. I feel that if people realized this before this movie, Pixar would have faced some criticism. But, Pixar hasn’t been around that long and it did take Disney 86 years to have a African-American princess.

Anyway the first Pixar princess is very red-headed, Scottish princess named Merida, played by Kelly Macdonald. Merida is far more interested in learning to shoot arrows from her father, Fergus, played by Billy Connolly, than learning to be a lady by her mother, Elinor, played by Emma Thompson. This isn’t really a problem until Merida is told she must marry a prince of one of the three clans in the Kingdom to stop a war from starting between them.

All the princes are comically terrible and Merida insists that she doesn’t want to be married. After getting in a huge fight with her mother and ripping a tapestry, she flees the castle and ends up in a Stonehenge-like circle in the woods. Then a bunch of wisps, adorable blue, flame-like fairies, lead her to a witch’s cabin. The witch gives her a spell in the form of a cake to “change her fate” after Merida asks for a way to change her mother.

The cake ends up turning Elinor into a bear and if Merida doesn’t find a way to “mend the bond” before sunrise on the second day her mother will be stuck like that. Merida’s trouble-making triplet brothers, who later also get turned into cute bear cubs with giant heads, help them escape the castle while being chased by her bear-hating father. Merida and her mother bond over fishing in the woods and a near-death experience with another bear.

In the end, Merida and her mother are able to “mend the bond” and everyone is turned back into humans. Elinor decides that she should let Merida be who she is and chose who she wants to marry.

Overall it was a cute Disney-Pixar movie, emphasis on the Pixar. Did you notice how often I said “her mother”? This princess had mother because she is Pixar. Disney princesses — or Disney characters, for that matter — don’t have mothers. Most people know the story that Walt Disney didn’t like his mom, so all the princesses (Ariel, Jasmine, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White) are given fathers instead. The two newest Disney princesses Tiana and Rapunzel break this trend, but it still makes it into the least Disney-like Disney movies, Pirates of the Caribbean, with Will, Elizabeth, Jack and Angelica all having dads and not moms.

Aside from the having-a-mom thing, Merida differs from her Disney counterparts in another way. She doesn’t end up falling in love. Actually, she doesn’t even meet a person that could be seen as a love interest in any way. I love classical Disney movies and kept expecting an archer guy to bump into Merida in the woods some where. But, one never did.

I’m not really sure what I think about this. It was not what I expected out of kids’ movie about a princess. Of course, I was shocked when Eugene actually died — for a few seconds — at the end of “Tangled.” Maybe my Disney movie expectations are stuck in the 90s.

This movie was very focused on family and being who you want to be. Elinor gave Merida the choice to marry whoever she wants and she didn’t immediately walk into an “I chose you, Aladdin”-like statement. Maybe Pixar is trying to stay away from Disney’s teenage-marriage trend. I don’t know.

I would say it was because this is a kid-focused movie. But, if I was 4-years-old watching this movie I would have been really scared in a few parts. I felt the same way about parts of “The Princess and the Frog” too. Of course, this is coming from the kid who used to hide behind a wall during the giant Ursula scene in “The Little Mermaid.”

It was different from Disney princess movies, very cute, very good and the PG rating was deserved.

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