Film Review: ‘Brave’ Connects While Not Matching Pixar Standard

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CHICAGO – Pixar’s 13th film has been lauded as a major first for the company – the inaugural adventure aimed squarely at young females. Luckily, there’s nothing here that diminishes that goal in any way. “Brave” features a strong, well-designed, interesting heroine, perfectly voiced by Kelly Macdonald, and it doesn’t pander to its demographic, proving that girls can play with the big boys while also giving them a fable of their own. Beautiful character/environment design and spectacular voice work keep “Brave” a notch above much of the animated competition even if a straightforward story and lack of personality make this one of Pixar’s least accomplished screenplays. Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

Princess Merida (Macdonald) is the rebellious daughter of Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) and King Fergus (Billy Connolly), a fiery redhead who refuses to bundle up her hair like her conformist mother. When will Merida settle down? When will she stop bringing bows to the dinner table and start acting like a “lady”? Perhaps a husband can settle her down and Elinor and Fergus bring in three semi-suitable suitors to win the young girl’s heart.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Brave” in our reviews section.

Of course, Merida is too good for any of the Scottish stereotypes who try to win her heart and flees the castle after winning an archery competition. She runs into the woods and finds herself in a mystical ring of stones where some will-o-the-wisps guide her to an important figure in her fate – a wood-carving witch (Julie Walters) who gives her a spell baked into a cake that’s designed to “change” her mother. Merida clearly hasn’t yet learned that when a witch tells you someone will “change,” you should take her seriously.

The rest of “Brave” is a good-natured tale about how we learn what’s important to us. It’s a turning point in any young person’s life – and it often doesn’t come until they’re parents themselves – when they discover that their parents aren’t perfect. They’re trying to do what they think is best. And, at its core, “Brave” is not a story of a defiant daughter or an overbearing mother but a parent and child who come closer to a deeper understanding of each other’s needs through what is basically a Scottish fable.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “Brave” review.

“Brave” features voice work by Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson, Kevin McKidd, and Julie Walters. It was written by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell, and Irene Mecchi and directed by Andrews and Chapman and Purcell. It opens on June 22, 2012 and is rated PG.

Photo credit: Disney

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