Warning: Here there be spoilers.
Here’s what I like about “Brave,” the newest movie in the Pixar pantheon:
– The princess has zero interest in getting married.
– Not only that, said princess can take care of herself just fine, thank you, and in fact better than any of her would-be suitors, at least when it comes to archery.
– The princess has two living parents who actually love both her and one another.
– Two words: Scottish accents.
– More amazing graphics. There’s a scene with some fish in a river that’s so real you’d swear you were standing on the rock looking at them.
– Did I mention the Scottish accents?
And yet – it’s missing the depth I’ve come to expect from Pixar. I chuckled a few times, especially at a scene involving a very creative use for a bevy of kilts, but I never really laughed out loud. Not like I did when Dorrie spoke Whale in “Finding Nemo.”
And while I liked the heroine, Merida, I never really felt her pain, not the way that “Up” left me bawling or “Wall-E” brought out the pangs of guilt.
Part of the problem is the way the plot conflict is solved. Without giving everything away, let’s just say I doubt two days under a spell would be enough to create that radical a change in a person’s mindset about what the future should hold. I would have liked to see more interaction between the characters to show how that transformation occurred, apart from the transformation of the spell itself.
OK, let’s just be blunt. DON’T READ THIS IF YOU’RE GOING TO THE MOVIE. We good? OK, here we go.
Merida: “Och, Mum, dinna ye ken ahm not raedy to ge mahrried and yer forcin’ me into it, an it’s not fair, espaicially when ahm so good wi’ a bow an’ all.”
Mom: “Och, ye have to get mahrried because yer a princess and ye have a duty to the kingdom. I dinna caire how good ye are with a bow and quit putting it on the table, och aye.”
Merida: “Ye’ll be sarry! I’ll get me a spell.”
Mom: “Och! I’m a bear! Och, aye, ye are dead good wi’ a bow. Naever ye mind about the suitors, ye can mahrry whomever ye want.”
Me, in the audience: “Huh? Show me again how these two things are connected?”
Maybe I would have bought it if the movie had taken more time to develop the new relationship between Merida and Mama Bear, or if Mama Bear had somehow been under the impression that Merida really couldn’t take care of herself and that’s why she needed to be married off, and having to be a bear in Merida’s care set her straight on that point.
But Mom’s point was Merida had a job to do, and Mom suddenly being forced into a fur suit shouldn’t have changed that point. And the movie’s point was that moms and daughters will get along so much better if they’d just spend some time listening to one another and trying to see the world from the other’s point of view, and if that actually happens between these characters, I missed it. They’re too busy running from people intent on having a big bear barbecue.
No, “Brave” is cute and all, but it doesn’t do it for me. And I hope it doesn’t give the Princesses any ideas. They already know I can be a bear, and it doesn’t change the jobs I make them do.