There is only one thing that keeps Brave, the new film from Disney-Pixar, from being a “grade-A” movie: it copies its main narrative device wholesale from another recent Disney movie (click here only if you want to know). This lack of originality distracts from Brave‘s quality and bogs down its second act a bit, but the film is ultimately redeemed by taking its cue from that other film and doing it better, with stunning animation, a gorgeous musical score, excellent characters, rough-and-tumble Scottish humor, and an undeniably powerful emotional core (I'm not ashamed to say that I teared up towards the end).
With Merida, the strong-willed tomboy princess, Pixar has finally given us a female lead character (as I displayed in my master's thesis, they've portrayed women well, but females have never been front and center), and she was worth the wait. As voiced by actress Kelly Macdonald, she's a fiesty firecracker with a very satisfying character arch. All of the vocal work is superb, in fact, especially by Billy Connoly and Emma Thompson as Merida's royal parents. Though this is essentially a mother-daughter story (a surprising rarity in animated films), there are plenty of amusing male characters for boys and fathers to relate to. Brave‘s got fun and heart for the whole family, more than enough to make up for its overly-familiar story.
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Disney-Pixar'sBrave is rated PG. It contains some fairly intense scenes of peril that could frighten children, comedic brawling and fisticuffs, and humorous animated rear nudity of adult males and toddlers. A heavyset female character is portrayed with ample cleavage, again for comedic effect.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Mothers, take the time to get to know your children, their hopes, dreams, and desires. Encourage them in who they are and who they want to be, not who you want them to be.
Licensed marriage and family therapist. Husband. Father. Film critic.