How should a princess behave? According to her mother and father, NOT like Merida. Brave, a Pixar animated feature, tells the story of this spunky red-headed teenager who rebels when faced with the fate of marrying someone not of her own choosing. Although she loves both her parents, Merida makes a reckless decision that will bring about great change in her mother, but not in the way she expects.
The mother/daughter relationship depicted in Brave does not run smoothly. Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson) cares deeply for Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), but she’s concerned whenever the youngster engages in rambunctious, un-princesslike behavior. For example, Merida’s interests coincide more with King Fergus’ (Billy Connolly) activities like archery and hunting than in more ladylike pursuits. Merida is adventurous and daring, even to the point of climbing the highest rocks possible or following strange moving lights into the forest. The spirited youngster also spends lots of time riding her powerful horse -- with a thundering pace -- through dangerous areas far from the castle. But when it comes to things like wearing a tight-waisted gown or fashionable headdress, she complains relentlessly --much to Queen Elinor’s dismay.
After Merida has enough of the proper princess bit, she accidentally meets a witch (voiced by Julie Walters) who offers her hope in the form of a spell to change Queen Elinor. Merida takes the bait, thinking the spell will make her mother change her mind about marrying her off against her will. If that happens, Elinor will then persuade Fergus to change his mind. Then things can get back to normal -- which doesn’t happen at all! In fact, Merida soon must go to great lengths to save her mother. She must use all her courage and strength to right the wrong she's done. Changes do happen, especially in the relationship between Merida and Elinor, but not until both face deadly dangers they never thought possible.
Is this a family movie -- or a medieval Scottish horror flick? Well, despite the scary plot, the target audience is probably preteen girls, and there are several cute scenes with Merida’s three little red-haired brothers that should appeal to the youngest family members. Plus the splendid animation is designed to charm viewers of all ages. King Fergus looks very funny, as do all the other male characters.
While Brave may not be the best Pixar movie ever, it’s good to see a female main character in one of their films at last. Merida comes across as quite fascinating to watch. It would be fun to see a sequel about how she matures as a leader.
(Released by Walt Disney Pictures and rated “PG” for some scary action and rude humor.)
For more information about Brave, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.