‘Brave’ features a Pixar princess with a Disney influence

‘Brave’ fea­tures Pix­ar’s first fe­male prot­ag­on­ist.


Is arch­ery is the new girl power skill? First, it was Kat­n­iss from The Hun­ger Games who was a whiz with the bow and ar­row. Now, it is Brave’s Prin­cess Me­rida who just hap­pens to be an ex­pert arch­er. And, much to her moth­er’s chag­rin, she al­ways for­gets to keep her weapon off the din­ner table.

Me­rida, Pix­ar’s first prin­cess, is a fiery red­head with wild curly locks. She doesn’t want to be pushed in­to mar­ry­ing just be­cause tra­di­tion says she should.

Set in Scot­land, Brave is a dif­fer­ent sort of Dis­ney movie be­cause it is about the re­la­tion­ship between a strong-willed, stick-to-tra­di­tion moth­er and a free-spir­ited, break-from-tra­di­tion daugh­ter.

I ac­tu­ally found Brave to be an odd hy­brid of a Pix­ar movie with a heavy Dis­ney in­flu­ence. There were a couple of songs, but none that stood out. There was no Prince Charm­ing, but a typ­ic­al Dis­ney evil witch who mys­ter­i­ously ap­pears just in time to cast a spell, nev­er to be seen or heard from again.

Brave will not be re­membered as one of Pix­ar’s best, but still fairly good. It’s nowhere near as mem­or­able as Up, Wall-E or the Toy Story movies, but it cer­tainly is a step up from last year’s rather dread­ful Cars 2.

As the daugh­ter of King Fer­gus (voice of Billy Con­nolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), Me­rida must choose from three po­ten­tial suit­ors to marry, all of whom are un­at­tract­ive in both looks and per­son­al­ity. Since Me­rida is vehe­mently op­posed to mak­ing such a de­cision, she runs off after a nasty ar­gu­ment with her un­waver­ing moth­er.

Me­rida turns to an ec­cent­ric witch in the woods, who con­jures up a kooky spell that prom­ises to solve all of Me­rida’s prob­lems with mom. Un­for­tu­nately, that spell turns Me­rida’s moth­er in­to a gi­ant furry bear and she will re­main that way forever, un­less Me­rida can fig­ure out with­in two days how to break the spell.

The “fix” was a little too simplist­ic for me, but it was nice that story really stuck to the moth­er/daugh­ter con­flict, and there was no Prince Charm­ing to swoop in and save the day at the end.

Is Me­rida a typ­ic­al bratty teen­ager or a pro­gress­ive prin­cess? She’s both. Me­rida wants to do whatever she wants, and to heck with tra­di­tion and what her par­ents say. But, ob­vi­ously she does have a point about not want­ing to be forced in­to mar­riage with a man she doesn’t love.

Cast­ing ac­tu­al Scots such as Kelly Mac­Don­ald, Billy Con­nolly and Craig Fer­guson for the voices gave the movie more of an au­then­t­ic vibe. Brit Emma Thompson soun­ded suf­fi­ciently Scot­tish enough for me, as well.

Un­like the re­cent visu­al spec­tacle that was Mad­a­gas­car 3, the 3-D for Brave is not worth the price of ad­mis­sion. You’d have nearly the ex­act same ex­per­i­ence in 2-D, I’d ima­gine. Some parts were def­in­itely a bit dra­mat­ic and in­tense, and may fright­en young­er view­ers. The ini­tial bear scenes were some­what funny, es­pe­cially with the prim and prop­er Queen try­ing to fig­ure out how to act like a wild bear. While Me­rida is an ad­mir­able heroine, Brave lacks some of the charm and wit of some pre­vi­ous Pix­ar of­fer­ings.

Movie Grade: B

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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