With the success of 2011’s The Help, movie studios have finally taken notice — female centric movies pay off quite handsomely at the box office. Girl power is now the new “black” in movies, and while some have gotten it right (Hanna, Colombiana) others have failed miserably i.e. Sucker Punch and Red Riding Hood. With Pixar’s Brave we get a delightful coming of age story that holds true to its feminist slant, while providing inspiring messages of self-reliance, loyalty and family.
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Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald) has little patience with the constraints of being a princess. With her mane of unruly red hair, Merida is more comfortable riding about in the forest with her bow and arrow, than being a “proper lady.” While her father King Fergus (Billy Connolly) gets a kick out of Merida’s independence, her mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) is on a mission to tame her daughter’s wild spirit–as well as her hair! Merida’s carefree ways are cut short when her parents announce that she must settle down and marry one of the sons of the three neighboring lords.
What makes Merida so lovable is that she’s a rebel with a cause. As opposed to being a petulant and shallow brat, Merida is a young woman fighting for her right to express her individuality in a world that expects her to accept the status quo. Frustrated with her mother’s unrealistic expectations, Merida loses her cool and butts heads with Queen Elinor. Their argument leads to a series of events that will force mother and daughter to rely on each other and gain a deeper understanding of themselves, as well as each other. Merida and Elinor’s relationship is the driving force of Brave–their love/hate relationship is one that every young woman can relate to.
There’s comic relief galore in “Brave” in the form of Merida’s wee triplet brothers–Hubert, Hambish, and Harris–who keep the family (and their poor nanny) on their toes with their deliciously wicked pranks. Robbie Coltrane brings the laughs in his role as the cantankerous Lord Macintosh, who has a knack for telling tall tales and no shame in flashing his bum to his fellow kinsmen.
Brave redefines the conventional fairy tale genre by giving us a heroine with spunk, courage and lots of heart. Merida isn’t waiting for her Prince Charming to charge in and save the day–she’s going to do it all by her damn self. That’s a lesson well worth teaching our daughters.
FINAL GRADE: B
BRAVE opens in theaters nationwide Friday, June 22nd
Watch trailer below:
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