Last week the duo of Disney and Pixar Animation released Brave, a 3-D film about a medieval Scottish princess, the free-spirited daughter of King Fergus, voiced by Scottish actor & comedian, Billy Connolly (The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day) and Queen Elinor, voiced by Emma Thompson (Nanny McPhee, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). Merida, voiced by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald (Nanny McPhee, No Country for Old Men), who has wild red hair and a matching disposition, debuts as Pixar’s first female hero.
Merida becomes desperate to choose her own destiny when she finds out that Queen Elinor intends to marry her off to one of three less than desirable suitors. Unable to communicate with her mother, Merida runs away, hoping to find a solution to her problems.
While it was poorly introduced and explained within the movie, magic plays a large factor in Merida’s fate, as she is lead by Wisp spirits to the hidden cottage of a Witch (no, Woodcarver!), voiced by Julie Walters (Harry Potter series). The princess seeks help from the Witch, but instead of getting a potion that will “change her mother” Merida is left with a spell that creates a very large problem. She must rectify the situation before it tears her family – and the people of the kingdom – apart.
Offering outstanding visuals and an impressive voice cast, Brave was a decent enough movie with a few worthy points of high action, quality children’s humor and those Disney-esque “awe moments” viewers have come to expect.
Writers Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman and Irene Mecchi do a good deal of male-bashing, particularly at King Fergus’ expense. Fergus and the other leaders of the clans are seen as, in many ways bumbling idiots. Because of this, although the heroine’s father is not dead, he is somehow incapable of helping her solve her problem. In addition, the movie calls attention to the drinking culture that seems to be relevant in the British Isles. The men in the movie love fighting just as much as they love being drunk. Considering that it was in the sake of comedy, though, I suppose it is justified.
The title implies that there are many acts of bravery within it, but I left the theater feeling as though the movie failed to live up to the title. While Merida is offered to viewers as a fearless, proficient archer capable of exciting exploits, she fails to do what most male protagonists do: go on an actual adventure. Her journey is more of an internally driven one, which makes for a less exciting movie. I heard the title Brave, and I wanted action! While she isn’t out fighting villains, Merida is able to achieve piece between her family, and more importantly, between the lords of the land. Isn’t that the kind of moral we should be relaying to children, anyway? But still, I wanted action!
And, while Brave isn’t necessarily a movie for late teens and young adults, the unexpectedly deep conclusion made even someone like me want to go home and hug my mother.