Brave subverts the usual fairy tale clichés
Featuring the voices of Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, and Emma Thompson. Rated G.
It’s hard not to meet Brave with a bit of a girl-powered fist pump. Aye, here’s the first truly antiprincess movie to bear the Disney name. Brave’s Merida is a different kind of girl fairy-tale character, and, almost unbelievably, she’s the first female lead in Pixar’s 22-movie franchise.
Merida abhors the idea of becoming a princess. She dreads the thought of being married off to a prince, and she almost suffocates when she gets laced into a corset. Voiced by Kelly Macdonald, she’s a fun mix of tom boy and rebel: she prefers bows and arrows to needlework, chomps at her food like a kilted warrior, and her hair is a character in itself: a wild, shivering tangle of knots and coils that looks as brilliant in Pixar’s newly souped-up 3-D animation as the lush green forests of the Scottish Highlands setting.
The slapstick-filled movie is full of fun, too, with its brawling clansmen and burly bears. And it’s a novelty in that its story actually centres on a strained mother-daughter relationship. Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) is trying to groom Merida for marriage. (Usually, Disney tales begin with the mother long gone and an evil stepmother in her place.)
It’s just that—och!—the story here doesn’t quite live up to its promise. Oddly, it starts out as one thing—three goofball clan princes competing in Highland games for her attentions—and suddenly turns more Grimm-like, full of will-o’-the-wisps, a warped witch, and shape-shifting bears.
Mercifully, though, no Prince Charming ever shows up to win Merida’s heart. And the characters are appealing enough (especially her three bratty wee brothers and Billy Connolly’s unforgettable turn as her mountain of a Da) to keep Brave rollicking along.
Still, Brave’s greatest achievement remains our flame-haired lass, an expert archer who sends a swift arrow straight into the rhinestone tiara of Disney’s princess cult.
Watch the trailer for Brave.
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