Brave: Rise of the Ginger

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I think I speak for a lot of young girls when I say that mother-daughter relationships can get rocky when you’re old enough for a bra. You’re at an age where you want to assert your independence and say what you think but you’re not mature or articulate enough to do it right yet. I was angstier than a John Hughes character when I turned 13, and sometimes my mom and I would bump heads since we were suddenly on different wave lengths. Seven years later I’d like to say I’ve traded my training bra for maturity and my relationship with my mom has only strengthened from it (not to say I still don’t have some growing up to do).

This is one of the reasons why I LOVED Brave. Even though it was a medieval adventure movie set in Scotland, it still felt very real and grounded. This is definitely a mother-daughter film at heart.

The movie revolves around Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) who, in an effort to change her mother, Queen Elinor’s (Emma Thompson) mind about an age-old custom, asks a witch to grant her wish. To Merida’s astonishment, the curse turns the queen into a bear, which is conveniently also her father’s favorite hunting target. Mother and daughter must work against the clock to change her back before she’s doomed to life as a bear forever.

Brave is classic Disney: Hilarious and touching. The use of 3D allowed the audience to fully appreciate the sweeping landscapes of Scotland and gave all the computer-animated characters much more definition. This is really evident in the archery scene, in which the arrow comes into focus and travels toward the target in slow motion. Although I’ve read complaints that Disney/Pixar could’ve put more emphasis on Scotland’s open spaces. Merida’s immersed in a beautiful world that moviegoers want to experience but scenes felt smaller than epic.

I’m not going to skip the fact that Merida is a kick-ass princess. She’s got flaming red hair, she’s an archery champ, she’s got it going on. When I was little I wanted all these traits, so you can understand why Merida is my hero. But she doesn’t start the movie as one. She’s still feisty and immature. When we’re preteens we’re incapable of having a logical conversation. Everything starts with “Why can’t you…” and “You’re always on my case…” The biggest lesson I’ve learned in this new era of my twenties is to LISTEN.

As usual, my sister cried during the credits. It’s a very moving film, and now I want my mom to see it. But if that all sounds too mushy for you there’s plenty of action sequences that won’t disappoint. I know they’re good because of the little kids cheering in the row behind us.

One more thing: I loved Mumford & Sons and Birdy’s song “Learn Me Right” on the soundtrack. It’s sweet and incorporates traditional Scottish folk as well. If you like that one, there’s more where that came from on iTunes.

Out on DVD and Blu-Ray Nov. 13

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