Discussing Brave

This discussion/review is filled with spoilers so if you have not seen Brave… Well, go see it, it is great.

I’m not sure whether to compliment the marketing division at Disney or scold them, but Brave is not the movie they were selling to us. Oh, it is a good film, and I really enjoyed the trip, but it’s not the film I felt like we were seeing in the ads.

Yes, there is magic, there is the princess with the bow, there is some adventure in the end, but it is not on a grand magical stage. If anything the film seems smaller than all that, and even seems to decrease in size over the picture, since we keep returning to locations we have seen before, again and again.

Yes, in many ways, Brave is a small  and personal film, with only a small cast dealing with an issue that doesn’t affect the entire world but only one country in a minor political way. Kingdoms are not going to fall because of this story. Princess Merida is not fighting to save the world with all of the odds against her; no she is only trying to save one person, her mom.

Did I know going into Brave that I was about to see (in a more accurate description) a family comedy? No, not at all.

Am I disappointed? The answer is no too, because they executed the story so well.

However, I do wonder why the marketing people felt they had to sell the film this way. Was the attempt to try to convince boys to watch a princess? Was comedy considered too lightweight?  Frankly, there are a lot of kids out there I think that would probably argue that they would like to see a movie where a child turns their parent into a bear. I’m sure my son would love to turn me into a bear from time to time!

As a parent (and a grown up), the one compliant I have about the marketing is I kept expecting the story to change, and once I realized, no this is all the story is, it was almost done. See, I kept expecting another journey or mission to begin. That was a little frustrating.

Argh… Sometimes when I think of the decisions marketing people make around how they sell things to us, I feel a little insulted, but that is a topic for another day.

In many ways, Brave is a companion piece to The Incredibles (While I love the idea of a Monsters sequel, I would rather have one for Incredibles!). Both films are about families that are not communicating well with each other and then over the story become closer, as they recognize what the others want and accept. Heck, they both even have a “witch” like character that gives them what they need to have their adventure (Edna and her new super suits, and for Brave the witch who wants to just carve wooden bears).

I will say though as a father of a daughter, I would rather my daughter pretend to be Merida over Snow White or Cinderella any day of the week.

What a great character!

Easily, the most three-dimensional princess I have ever seen on the screen, and I will include Belle from Beauty and the Beast in that as well. She grows over the film, and, most refreshing at all, she doesn’t need a prince to accomplish that.

La Luna

I was not prepared for La Luna, the short that opened before Brave.

Usually, the shorts before Pixar films are fun and sometimes a little silly. They are great for putting us into the mood for the film to follow.

La Luna is different.

It was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year and now after seeing it, I have no idea why it didn’t win. To say that the film impacted me, is to put it mildly. It almost made me weep, it was that beautiful.

I’ve read a few reviewers that have panned the short, making me question why I read their reviews at all. This short is genius, pure genius.

Granted, I am coming from a very sentimental place when I say that. My son is four and each day I learn something new about him, I see him emerge more and more into the person he will be. And also this year I lost my grandfather, my last grandparent. So right there, this story about three generations of “moon janitors” has me in its grip.

La Luna might be my favorite Pixar creation, and I do not declare that lightly. I am obsessed with Pixar and their studio in many ways (See my article here, emphasizing that point again and again). There are moments in the short that are just inspiringly beautiful. I thought Pixar could never beat the space journey of Wall-E for eye candy, but this did it.

Together, La Luna and Brave might be the best movie experience parents will get this year. I really recommend parents see it soon. Now, I just need to find an excuse to take my son to see it again.

9 thoughts on “Discussing Brave

  1. I had much the same opinion about the marketing of the film. And concluded it was an effort to get boys to come and see a princess movie. But a great story, nonetheless. My family, including the kids, just “liked” it. I thought maybe my seven-year-old daughter would relate to the independent minded Merida. Instead, her comment was, “That wasn’t like Tangled. Where were all the songs?” I’d be interested to know what other Cinderella-loving daughters think of Merida.

    • My daughter, who’s is named after Sleeping Beauty, “Aurora” is four years old and has every costume for each and every princess. She loved this movie, and loved Merida. The first thing she asked my husband and I was can she get a Merida costume for herself and a baby bear costume for her brother so they can get dressed up together. She loved the mom as a bear and was totally infatuated by the story. She now is just asking and asking for a Merida costume and to go to Disney world to meet her. So I think it just depends on the girl. I myself loved it and can’t wait to own it. It is one disney movie that I could absolutely watch over and over again, it may have taken the top of my disney favorites list.

      • Thanks for reading! I already got my daughter (age 1) a toy from the film, it was a toddler doll and it came with three bears. I think she likes the bears more right now…

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  3. Reblogged this on The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard and commented:

    This film comes out on Blu-Ray this week and this is my initial response to the film (which is great). My daughter is only 18-months old and is obsessed with Princess Merida. She has a toddler doll of her and walks around with it, calling it her baby. She runs her hands through her hair, gives it kisses, sleeps with it each night… Yes, it is all very cute. The day I show her the film and she realizes her “baby” can walk and talk too, her little mind will certainly be wowed.

  4. Pingback: For the Love of Disney | The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

  5. I felt the same way too at the end of Brave. Just a bit underwhelmed because I went in expecting the first adventure epic from Pixar and came out having seen a simple feel-good family film. I loved the characters though, especially her relationship with her father. It was nice to have a main female character from Pixar since they’re usually always supporting cast.

    • I think I have seen this film a dozen times since that first screening (My daughter calls Merida her baby since she has a smaller version to sleep with at nighttime), and it improves in time. Not my favorite Pixar film (that is still Wall-E), but it is very good.

      Thanks for writing!

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