My girls and I first saw the trailer for Pixar's new animated flick, "Brave," last summer. Just a 20-second blip before whatever feature film we were watching. But it made an impression on all of us, and we had been eagerly anticipating the film's release on June 22. When we finally got to see it this past weekend, we were not disappointed.
"Brave" is the story of Merida, a fiery redhead whose strong will and stubborn nature remind me a lot of my own daughters. Merida (played by Kelly MacDonald) is a tomboy, a skilled archer and an adventurer. She's also a princess.
As the impetuous daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), Merida is expected to conform to the princess life in all ways — including marrying a first-born son from one of the neighboring clans. But Merida won't go down that path willingly. Determined to change her fate, she turns to an eccentric old witch (Julie Walters) for help.
I won't spoil the plot for you, but I will tell you that this film delivers in all ways.
On a sensory level, "Brave" really knocked my socks off. I lived in Scotland for a year while in graduate school, so I can say with a bit of authority that this film really captured the wild beauty of Scotland — the soft lushness of the landscape set against craggy peaks. The deep, dark, dense forests. And let's not forget Merida's mesmerizing red hair!
Even better were the voices. These were not affected Scottish accents. They were the real deal. Lovely Scottish accents that were a pleasure to listen to. But not so authentic as to be undecipherable! (Except for the case of one first-born prince.)
But "Brave" did more than look and sound good. It actually delivered a story with a strong female lead character who did not in any way need to rely on a man or fall in love to follow her dreams. That's almost unheard of when it comes to kids' movies (or any movies, now that I think of it.)
"Brave" focused on the relationship between Merida and her mother. Maybe it's because I'm a mom with two young daughters. And maybe it's because I can still remember my own adolescence and the desire to carve my own path in life. But this film really spoke to me. It captured that whole messy mother-daughter "I know what's best" and "I don't need to listen to you" relationship pretty well. And it delivered a touching story about courage, strength and family with heart, adventure and a ton of laughs. And did I mention a strong female lead character?
I really couldn't ask for anything more than that.
Pixar has earned a reputation of making kids' movies that are secretly loved by adults too. "Brave" has certainly earned its place in this category.
Check out the trailer here: