Brave (2012)

Brave (2012) – Walt Disney animation is built on fairy tales. Their early films included Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. Pixar has mostly gone in a different direction, exploring hidden worlds populated by living toys, anthropomorphic automobiles, superheroes, or Charlie Chaplin-esque robots. Now Pixar has decided to dive into new territory (though very familiar territory for Disney) with Brave, the tale of a strong-willed princess. Rather than mining the public domain as Disney did, they opted to create an original story because at Pixar it is all about the story. Don’t get me wrong, having a new Disney Princess (with a particularly distinctive hairstyle) that it can sell toys of to little girls probably factors into it too. Pixar has the same money needs as anyone else. Still, they’ve got to bring their Pixar magic to it, right?

Brave tells the story of the Scottish princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald). She has an adventurous spirit, which is encouraged by her father King Fergus (Billy Connelly) and discouraged by her mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Merida resents that she is being groomed by Queen Elinor to be a proper lady, like Elinor herself, while her younger brothers Harris, Hubert, and Hamish get to run wild free of consequences. Merida would rather ride and horseback and shoot her bow and arrow. One day the time comes for Merida to be betrothed. The heads of the other three clans (Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, and Robbie Coltraine) come to try to convince Merida to marry their sons (McKidd again, Steven Cree, Callum O’Neill). After making something of a scene Merida runs away and meets a witch (Julie Walters) in the woods who offers her a chance to change her fate. So that much is in the trailer and I have to express great admiration for Disney’s marketing department that they don’t give away more than that.

Okay… everyone reading this… is there any real doubt or ambiguity in your mind about whether or not I’m going to like this movie? Even Pixar’s un-debatably weakest film (Cars 2) was entertaining (to me, at least). Plus I am a sucker for all things with a Scottish accent and, as mentioned in my Trainspotting review last week, have been in mad love with Kelly Macdonald for over a decade (Trainspotting will do that to a man). Brave is an entertaining movie and absolutely beautiful to look at. The absolute worst I can say about it is that it doesn’t rank alongside the absolute best of Pixar, but it’s still a great movie. It really follows the classic structure of a fairy tale and therefore seems comfortingly familiar but as it is an original story so there’s room for surprise. I don’t have kids, I don’t want kids, but if I ever did have kids the one part of parenting I think I’d have a pretty good handle on is taking them to movies like this one. Of course, I’m an adult (more or less) and I still enjoys these types of movies just as much as I did back then. I’d tell you to check this one out, but do you really even need my recommendation? It’s Disney/Pixar: it’s going to make bank. Anyway, by means of making my endorsement official: check it out.

Oh, and stay through the credits for an amusing callback joke.

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