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.
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.