Monday, June 25, 2012

'Brave' Review

Sometimes it's better to walk into a movie without knowing exactly what it's about. The Usual Suspects is a good example of that. Brave is the kid-friendly version of that, a surprising movie -- not because it has a crazy twist at the end, but because it's one that wholly defies a genre that's been established since parent company Disney released Snow White back in 1938.

Yes, I'm talking about the so-called "princess movie," the one in which a young woman is rescued by a handsome prince ... but not before her mother is killed off in scene two (if she's lucky) or doesn't exist at all.

I have to applaud Disney*Pixar for this one -- especially Pixar, since this is its first female-led movie. The main character, a Scottish princess named Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), is spunky, confident and knows what she wants -- or, rather, is confident knowing what she doesn't want.

When presented with a few (not-so-handsome) suitors, Merida decides to compete in an archery contest for her own hand -- basically for the right to decide not to decide on a mate for the near future. She's simply not ready.

This decision, of course, throws the tradition-based clans into a tizzy and incites a hurtful feud with her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Angry words strike their targets, and next thing you know Merida takes off into the woods on her trusty horse, Angus, to blow off steam but also to find a way to change her mother's mind.

And that's where the story really changes.

It's hard to write a review of a film when I don't want to give away its most outstanding characteristic -- its courage to be something different from what we've seen before. Sure, there have been animated films -- Disney animated films -- with strong female characters, but the story has always been somewhat the same. There's always a love story. And there is something of that here, but it's not what you think. Not at all.

I took CC to see Brave on Saturday, and she dressed up in the film's signature blue costume that my mom bought her when she was in town. It was a cute mother-daughter outing, complete with ice cream afterwards.

And if there was any movie that spotlighted the connection I have with my daughter, it was this one. I could also tell that there was an inkling of the reverse coming from CC. She couldn't stop telling me how much she loved me and how awesome I was after it was over. (And it wasn't because I bought her popcorn during the show.)

Without giving anything away, yes, there's a love story -- but it's the story of that highly charged, highly combustible, but in the end unbreakable bond between mother and daughter.

CC as Merida.


Dan O. said...

Good review Laura. Had a lot of fun with this one for the first half or so, but then after that, things started to go downhill for me and it lost my focus. Usually, I love the heck out of Pixar films but this one didn’t do much for me, except give me plenty of eye-candy to gaze at.

L.A. Story said...

Thanks for your note, Dan. There was definitely a lot of eye candy! The hair alone had me mesmerized! :)


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