Brave is a wonderful tale for Mothers, Daughters, and Girls Just Trying to Find Their Way

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Merida will do anything to get out of the arranged marriage her mother has planned for her. Of course, what girl wouldn’t be a bit hesitant with the kind of suitors that are presented? But really, it’s the point of the thing. She’s a free spirit. She’s an intelligent, able woman. She’s, frankly, a bad ass of a Disney princess.

So Merida stands up to win her own hand. And when that doesn’t work, she leaves things up to the magical entities of her kingdom to change her fate and give her back her freedom. Unfortunately, when she makes a wish to a powerful witch, she words things in a way that makes her point go completely awry, to the detriment of her mother.

Considering the previews give so little of the plot information, I will say no more about the details of Merida’s wish to the witch. Instead I want to concentrate on all the great features of this film. The animation is the best combination of talent and technology. The characters are quirky and endearing. The dialogue feels natural.

Here’s what you won’t find in Brave. There are no ladies swooning. There are no princes rushing in to save the day. In fact, there is no romance at all. This is the story about a girl who knows who she is, and is determined to be that girl no matter what. This is also the story about a mother and a daughter who do not understand each other, and how they come to identify with and value the other.

Of course the plot is not overly complicated and the end is perfectly predictable. It’s a kid’s movie, what do you want? Though the action progression is obvious, it is always entertaining and engaging for children and adults alike. This is the kind of film that parents can bring their kids to, without wanting to gouge out their own eyes, and the kind of film that single ladies in their twenties should bring their nieces to as an excuse to get a dose of girl-power.

Brave isn’t completely out of the Disney box, though. Many of the classic themes are there. There is a princess, a wish, a curse, a happy ending. Perhaps these themes are overdone – but to that I argue that each generation should have the pleasure of enjoying these themes with movies and characters all their own. I am glad to see the progression of these themes reflecting the times. In my day when a girl made a wish it was usually to catch a prince, and not that there is anything wrong with that. But Merida made a wish for herself, and it’s good to see a Disney (/Pixar) princess do such a thing.

My only complaint, I think, is the title. “Brave” sounds like this movie will be the struggle of the princess to find her courage to do what she knows she must. But Merida never really falters. She never struggles to find her bravery. She just hikes up her sleeves and does what she has to do. I would have liked to have seen more of an inner conflict to find the bravery so that the title was an actual theme running through the course of the plot.

Still, for those of us tired of Bellas, Sleeping Beauties, and damsels who are only moderately cool without their male counterpart, may I suggest Brave as an alternative. Brave has the usual wit and vivacity of the typical Pixar film, yet somehow it is different. This is the first Pixar film with a strong, single princess as a main character. Even for Disney this might be the first time that the Princess does not end up with a Prince in order to make the sto

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