Disney Pixar’s latest film Brave came out this past weekend. My wonderful housemates took me to go see it as an early birthday activity. I had read a few reviews saying it was not up to Disney Pixar’s standard and it would never stand with giants such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Up (just to name a few.)
Honestly, I think these critics are wrong. They are used to male-centric plot lines with some sort of legitimate love interest (and resolution that ends in a happy couple). While the movie’s conflict was catalyzed by a competition for Marida’s hand in marriage, it clearly revolved around the Merida’s relationship with her mother Elinor. This in it of itself makes the film unique and lack the “Disney Pixar” feel. All their movies are touchy-feely, but for some reason that intimacy and vulnerability is no longer “entertaining” or “relatable for all audiences” when the protagonist is a female. The Incredibles was about restoring familial relationships and that one was an unquestionable hit. If Merida had been introduced as a Disney Princess in the classic 2D style, she would have been welcomed into the Disney family without any thought in the other direction. Disney Princesses are for female character development and Disney Pixar is for male. Well, at least according to the the audience. I applaud Pixar for welcoming a heroine to join the ranks of heros. If these so-called die-hard Pixar fans are dissatisfied with Brave, then they have lost the spirit Disney Pixar has embodied form the beginning: heros (and heroines) come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and forms; we just have to keep our eyes open to recognize them.
A turn off for some may be the culture the film is set it. 10th century Scotland is not exactly the most appealing time and location for most audiences, so the plot must compensate for this fallback amongst viewers. I LOVED having it set in this time period. It reminded me of the Scottish-Irish Festival my family would try to go to every year in the local park. They had Highland games, tapdancing, authentic Scot-Irish food, and almost any other activity you could come up with. Parts of this film were reliving those memories on screen, and I loved every second of it.
When it comes down to it, there are 2 questions that can arguably make or break this film for a person:
- Was the subplot more distracting that entertaining?
- Is the relationship between mother and daughter significant enough to carry the story (subplots and all)?
Subplots make a movie. Without any side characters with drawing personalities, movies would be very dry. We would get sick of films quickly for not having enough angles to hold in for more than one showing. Side-plots create a more dedicated fan base and even cult followings. What would Harry Potter be like without Luna or Neville? What about The Holiday without good ol’ Arthur or The Lord of the Rings without Eowyn or even Pippin. While the stories could probably get away without these characters, they are greatly enhanced with these characters and the subplots brought along with them.
The relationship between a mother and child is one we can all relate to from either one perspective or both. We may have never had such intense conflict with our mothers or never came to a point of reconciliation, but we can understand a bit of this mother-daughter conflict. If you can see a personal parallel in even any part of the relationship arc, you will appreciate the story as a whole.
Overall, I was over-the-moon with Brave and can’t wait to see it again! What did you think of it?