If you’re a tween or even a teenage girl, whom do you look up to as a role model in film and television? Katniss Everdeen isn’t a bad choice since she is strong and relatively independent when fighting for her life. I pray Bella Swan isn’t a role model for anyone. Thankfully, there is a new heroine for young girls to admire—without any love interests involved whatsoever. Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is Disney/Pixar’s newest princess and she inspires a lot of confidence for young women everywhere in Brave.


Merida is set to be betrothed against her will. Her father, Fergus (Billy Connolly), is the king of four Scottish clans who had previously been enemies due to the greed of a brother long ago. Each clan arrives in Merida’s town to showcase their leader’s eldest son as her suitor. As she clashes over her future with her mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson), Merida goes into the woods and stumbles upon a witch who gives Merida a spell to change her fate, and mother. Upon finding the side effects of the curse, Merida and Elinor must put pride aside to save their family and clan.

One thing you can always count on with Pixar is astounding animation. Brave in no way, shape or form disappoints. From the sweeping landscapes to Merida’s untamed, fire-red hair, Brave is fantastic to watch simply to see all the details.  The opening twenty minutes or so are absolutely brilliant with story and animation – more on story later. There are a few moments where the camera moves a little too quickly when following Merida on her trusty steed, but this does not become a problem as the film settles.

The Scottish lore, accents and scenery are tons of fun to watch, even if the accents may be a little hard to understand for the kids. To me, the story of Brave dips once the spell is cast on Elinor. Brave ends up being completely different from what I expected. As Elinor spoiler becomes a bear, the antics and humor of the film descend into the childish and, in my opinion, the typical Pixar creativity is lost as we get the same story we’ve seen before in other films. It’s by no means bad, but when a studio creates such lofty expectations for itself, there will be some sort of letdown when you aren’t left in awe of the film.

The surrounding characters keep the film moving in a humorous manner with Lords Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd) and Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane) adding some wacky antics to the fray. Continuing with Pixar’s trend with humans, everyone in Brave has their special quirks that sort of mock humankind, but in the most fun way. Merida’s younger brothers are little devils, but they quickly steal scenes they are involved in. Most importantly, as mentioned, Merida starts independent and stays that way. In my theater I heard multiple young adult women praising Merida’s personal strength and resilience without seeking a man or protecting one. The film dives into the often-complex mother-daughter relationship that half the world can relate to. In this regard, Brave does well to stick to its foundation without giving in to more typical forms.

I wouldn’t go as far to say Brave is one of Pixar’s best, but it is definitely a fantastic film with a lot of fun for adults and a surprising amount of fear instilled in children (or at least the ones closest to me). Lastly, Pixar did not disappoint with the short before Brave. It didn’t have the same laugh-out-loud humor like the one-man band before, but the visuals are jaw dropping with splendor. Check it out.

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