Pixar’s new movie, “Brave”, now available on DVD will be different things to different people. For younger kids, it’s action and fighting and wild animals and silly humor. For older males, it’s just a hoot with mildly raunchy humor including old guys with bare bums and landing face first in ladies’ ample bosoms. It’s big adventure with manly sports, fishing, weapons and wild animals to conquer. I could almost hear the fist pumping all around me.
But for the older girls on up into womanhood in the audience, it was a mass of mother-daughter conflict and guilt! What kind of kid’s movie does that to a person?
Mother/daughter conflict isn’t new in children’s movies although it’s usually the wicked step-mother so it doesn’t bother us as much. But in the case of wild-redhaired-Mirada (Kelly MacDonald), the stubborn daughter of Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) and King Fergus (Billy Connolly), I loved and understood the daughter and felt for her need to rebel. But I also loved and understood her mother who was trying her darndest to lead her daughter down the right path. It’s an age-old quandary that is lived out in nearly every household.
How many times has a furious and frustrated child yelled out “I hate you!” or “I wish you were dead” or in the case of Mirada “I wish you would change”? Oh, mommy changed alright with the help of a whacky old witch (Julie Walters) with multiple piercings. Getting what she asked for fills Mirada with guilt but also a newfound admiration for her mother. That’s certainly something us mothers hope our children come around to, after all of the horridness has died down.
“Brave” is scary with huge, menacing animals, vicious fighting, frantic chases and battling nearly to the death between Mom and Dad! Good heavens! It makes me uneasy just writing about it!
Highlights of the movie for me include the fluid computer animation, the beautiful Scottish score and the charming way Queen Elinor’s true (human) self is still evident in ladylike gestures despite being turned into an enormous bear (there, I spoiled an important plot twist – sorry!). Yet even then, the beast inside her gets the best of her sometimes, frightening both her daughter and her self with what she’s capable of. Hmmm, reminds me of when parents become furious and the beast within them takes over, if only briefly.
Between the frightfulness and the relationship issues, it was Grimm’s Fairy Tales meets Dr. Phil.
Ask my teenage kids what they thought of the movie and all of the angst and it apparently flew right over their heads, thankfully – I guess. My sons loved the action and the humor. My teenage daughter who reminds me of the adventurous, headstrong Mirada, had this to say: “I’m glad there was no love interest in this movie. No guy came and saved the day. She was brave all by herself, protected her mother and learned from her mistakes.” You go, girl!
I have to admit that the lack of a romantic interest threw me a bit. It’s so much a part of most movies, animated or not. While on one hand, I get tired of it (ya, ya, the guy comes and rescues her from her distress or the potential of being terminally single), I still kept waiting for it to pop up. But it didn’t which, ultimately, I was glad about. This wasn’t a movie about romance. It was about family, protecting your clan (it was Scottish after all), being yourself and being all you can be. Oh, and it was about being nice to your mother, darn it, because she only wants what’s best for you, even if it drives you both crazy in the process.
Excuse me, I’ve got to go call my mother.