After some initial hesitation, I saw Brave last weekend with some friends. The result? I surprisingly enjoyed it.
Generally speaking, if I hear Pixar associated with a movie, I love it without question. Pixar has not failed me yet, I even admit that I loved Cars 2 despite it's relatively poor reviews. However, I was a little skeptical about Pixar taking on a "princess" movie when, to me, that signals the ultimate Disney sell-out.
Now, I mean no Disney bashing in this remark because I love Disney movies (and tv shows for that matter), but I fully expect Disney creations to be some updated version of a story that has already been told. Disney excelled in the 90's at taking an unoriginal idea (Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame,...) and turning it into a favorite movie among kids. I love that, I wish Disney still had that talent.
On the other hand, with Pixar, I expect originality and tears. With Brave, I ultimately walked out having enjoyed a sufficient amount of both those ingredients. The story was very similar to other princess stories: a young princess is forced to do something she doesn't want to do and seeks to prove to her mother/father/family that she doesn't have to conform to these archaic rules because she should be free to follow her heart. Ugh, being a princess can be so difficult.
However, the film still carried the charm and warmth that only Pixar can produce. I laughed, I cried. The characters were fun, the accents were endearing, the animation fabulous.
Merida, the princess of the story, is a loud, rambunctious, tom-boy of a princess who would rather gallop through the forest on her horse, shooting arrows, than be confined to a castle learning proper etiquette. She is a fun character, full of life, and her main of red curly hair is captivating. I found myself distracted by her hair more than once during the film. It is just...so...pretty.
When I think about the qualities I loved in 90's princesses
-independent (Belle, Jasmine)
-love for learning (Belle)
-selfless (Mulan, Belle)
I see that Merida only exhibits the first two, although by the end of the story I think she learns to embody the last. On the other hand, when I think of the qualities I despised about earlier Disney princess:
-helplessness (Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella)
I am glad that Merida does not embody those older traits. I love those earlier films, but let's face it, the movies reflect women of a different generation.
Merida is a girl who isn't going to let anyone tell her what she can't do or who she has to be. She is going to make mistakes, but she is also going to do everything she can to try and make things right.
side observation: the Scottish theme resulted in many animated butts being shown. I think there was more nudity than all other Pixar films combined.