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Safe and Predictable, but Hilarious–Pixar’s Brave

I’m not sure what provoked me to go see Pixar’s first fairytale, Brave. Maybe it was the strong female protagonist Merida (another first for Pixar) or maybe it was the delightful Scottish accents. Either way, I wasn’t disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, for adults this wasn’t a Pixar great that broke through and offered anything groundbreaking, but it was funny and great for kids of all ages. I found myself laughing mostly at the side characters like Harris, Hubert, and Hamish (the mischievious younger triplet brother of our heroine Merida) who, though silent, lead the story for many of the laughs.

A bit of a darker fairytale the likes of Hans Christen Anderson or the Brother’s Grimm, Brave boils down to one essential message: there needs to be communication between mother and daughter. So what’s the story? Prepare for a minute spoiler: There are a lot of bears. Seriously. The story centers on the rebellious princess Merida (Kelly Macdonal) who would rather practice her archery than the good-manners her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) is trying to teach her. When the four major clans gather, tradition determines that Merida must marry, and only the first born of each clan has any stake. Cue the arrival of the hilarious and competitive clan lords: Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) and Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane). To win Merida’s hand, one must win an archery contest (anyone see where this is going? I did at this point, plus the trailers spoilt the lovely part). After Lord Dingwall’s son accidentally wins, Merida announce that she, as the first born of clan DunBroch, will compete for her own hand. After mother and daughter fight bitterly (while King Fergus “entertains” the fight-happy and easily incited clan lords). Merida slashes a rift in her mother’s tapestry of the family while Elinor throw Merida’s prized bow into the fire.
Angry and feeling the injustice of her position, Merida mounts her horse Angus and flees the castle for the forest. When she is thrown from her horse, she follows the wlll-‘o’-the-wisp until she comes upon a hut. Inside she finds an eccentric Witch who’s masquerading as a wood carver (who carves BEARS exclusively). Merida demands a spell that will change her destiny–or more specifically her mother. And change her mother does, into something that Merida spend the rest of the movie trying to fix. Because it’s Disney-owned Pixar, there has to be a happy ending, but not before mother and daughter are forced to get to know each other better and forge a stronger relationship.
In the end, tradition is broken in favor of Merida (and all the other youngsters of marriageable age) so that all can marry for love. What I liked best about this movie, was that Merida stayed a strong character. She didn’t succumb to the cliche of so many princesses before her and she never found her Prince Charming. Her family came first and I LOVE that concept. I recommend this movie for those of you that want to laugh and don’t mind a bit of morality with your movie. Don’t expect to think too much (many events are predictable) but expect to leave the movie with a smile on your face.
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