“Are you willing to pay the price your freedom will cost?”
Swift shot: My four year old son was enthralled, a word he doesn’t even know yet, but he was. He barely moved from the front of his seat and neither did his father. But, this wasn’t a film for fathers and sons, it was a rare glimpse by Disney into a complicated mother and daughter relationship. At its heart, that is what Brave really is, a tale set in the Scottish highlands about a coming of age, rebellious princess and her well-meaning mother finding there is still hope to mend their torn bond.
Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is her father’s daughter and the first-born of her clan. She is head-strong, beautiful and . . . brave, but it is her solemn duty to keep the peace between the other clans by marrying one of their ‘eligible’ bachelors. I mentioned she was head-strong, and her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) is a brute of a man, but as daring as he might be in battle, he wants no part of convincing his daughter that she must wed for the sake of the kingdom or anything else for that matter. He dotes on all of his children, but when it comes to delicate matters he always turns to his wife, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). But she is ill-equipped to contain the savage independent creature who used to be her little girl.
Things come to a head when there is a competition to choose the winning suitor to capture Merida’s hand . . . let’s just say she shoots that idea down with graceful arrogance. Her mom is unbearably upset by her disregard for tradition. At least, that is what you might think, in truth there is a lot more at stake than Merida can fathom, being a ginger-haired, free-spirited teenager who knows EVERYTHING and decides her mother really just needs to listen to her . . . then she would understand. If only there were some way to change her mind. Merida gallops off through the dark and creepy forest on her magnificent steed, Angus, to find the answers. But what she finds is that sometimes the easy answers are rarely, if ever, the best answers.
Brave is an incredible film on every level. Each strand of hair on Merida’s head was painstakingly crafted by the Pixar team. They really introduced their first Disney princess with a perfect style and form that will be the benchmark for future leading ladies . . . and near impossible to surpass. I rarely tout 3D in films, but this is one that I think fans of 3D would be foolish to miss, the geniuses at Pixar dedicated this film to someone special, and their commitment to excellence is captured in every single shot. I challenge you to find fault with their work.
Brave’s story was unique as well; if there is a comparable Scottish legend that exists, I am unaware of it, at least. There may be a few surprises in store for you, but one twist was easy to spot from a mile away if you are a savvy movie-goer (I will discuss that with you in the comments section). Still, this is a great family film, even though there are some minor mature scenes that may stick with the little ones. My son was fine, but I can’t speak for every tike. Suffice it to say, you might find yourself saying, “It’s not real, kiddo.” You will laugh, you will find yourself getting a bit choked up at times, and you will be moved by the Disney magic . . . as only they can really pull off.
Brave was a heart-warming story with a nice twist that ties into a message we could all stand to remember, don’t try to change the fate of others to craft your own, be brave and bold and your destiny will find you. Oh, and stick around after all the credits!