MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman. Animated Feature
When Pixar Animation announced its first film with a female lead, some critics were disappointed that it was yet another Disney princess. And yet, with a film as beautiful, exciting and as funny as Brave, I am willing to visit familiar territory.
Brave is set in a Celtic Scottish village somewhere in a storybook past, where young Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is told by her parents, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) to prepare for visits from potential suitors from nearby clans. The men will enter into feats of strength in order to win Merida’s hand in marriage. Merida is not really interested in living the life of a princess, preferring to ride Angus, her Clydesdale horse, throughout the countryside, shooting arrows at targets and chomping down apples. Her three little triplet brothers are allowed free reign (no pun intended); why should she have to submit to the rules of custom? When Merida follows a will o’ the wisp to a hidden cottage, she has a chance to change her fate. But, once she makes a decision that threatens to usurp her mother’s authority, things go from bad to worse and Merida has to figure out a way to make things right again.
For a film about liberation from traditional roles, Brave has a few problems with the traditional family. King Fergus and his pals are basically arrested development men who like to pig out, drink, and roughhouse. Queen Elinor is the one who has to make the rules, with no respect from Fergus or Merida. This family would be headed for trouble in anything other than Brave’s fantasy world.
But there are some good lessons to be learned, as a rebellious daughter and her mother learn, through adventure, to trust and respect one another. The message never gets in the way of the fast-paced and always entertaining adventure, filled with slapstick, wordplay, and a few anachronistic chuckles. The Scottish countryside (and Merida’s unforgettable flowing red hair) are rendered in gorgeous 3-D detail, indicating the artistry of a Pixar production. Brave helps all of us to forgive and forget last year’s Cars 2.
Note: Brave is preceded by La Luna, a Pixar short nominated for the 2012 Academy Award. It is a lovely little film, evocative of a good picture book and free of dialogue. I’d tell you to get to the theater early in order not to miss it, but since this is summer and the theaters show about 20 minutes of coming attraction trailers, I think you’ll make it in time.
Three halos: A beautifully made and well-cast Scottish fairy tale, with humor and heart to spare.
Two pitchforks: Off-screen violence, Off-screen naughtiness, with some on-screen bare bottoms; a big, mean bear or two, which could frighten small children.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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