Be Brave! A Movie Review

Welcome to the first That's So HooplaHa: Movie Edition!  Some things are just so HooplaHa I have to share them with you, folks, and from time to time I will be sharing books and movies that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face, or to inspire you.  Filmmaker Abigail Schwarz was inspired to review the new Disney movie "Brave" for us when it put a smile on her face . . .

When I went to see Brave with a friend last Friday, I’ll admit, I was expecting to see dozens of little girls in bright red wigs carrying bow and arrows left over from the Hunger Games and shouting gleefully in Scottish accents. But much to my surprise, we seemed to fit right in with the target demographic. Apparently the afternoon Pixar flick was drawing enamored teenaged couples and large groups of nostalgic 20 something’s clad in plaid urban outfitters gear, which from the outside might look ironic but the feeling in the theater was undoubtedly sincere. These were the people who grew up with Toy Story and Monsters Inc., the unabashed supporters of the Pixar brand (despite the brief hiccup that was Cars 2).  Like us, they had all taken time off from their Friday afternoons to be happily drawn into the magical world of Disney/Pixar and for 100 minutes, remember what it's like to be a kid.

Now I’ll admit, being a film student, I couldn’t help but scour the Internet for any and all reviews and set (or in this case animation studio) gossip before I bought my ticket. And surprisingly this time the controversy was more than the usual ‘How is it possible that Pixar has done it again?’ Some, like Mary Pols, who wrote the article ‘Why Pixar’s Brave is a Failure of Female Empowerment’ for TIME, thought the movie lacked in the very message it was trying to promote. “Other than deciding her mother isn’t so bad, Merida doesn’t really grow. She’s simply extended her time as a tomboy, another archetype, less a girl than a stereotype of a kind of girl.” (Read more.)

On this I have to respectfully disagree. Merida and her mother, voiced by the incredibly talented Kelly Macdonald and Emma Thompson, respectively, are both incredibly dogmatic and borderline hostile toward one another in the beginning of the movie, but as the story unfolds, unleashing a glorious setting and animation that goes leaps and bounds beyond any other Pixar movie in terms of pure aesthetic beauty, the two learn to set aside their stubborn ways in order to do what is best for their family, and being that they are royals after all, what is best for the Kingdom. Merida was willing to give up everything in order to do the right thing by her people—if that isn’t personal growth I don’t know what is.

Merida is Pixar’s first female heroine in over 17 years of movie making, which seems a bit unbelievable, but she carries the burden well. When the movie ended and the last notes of the powerful Patrick Doyle score rang through the theater, a thunderous applause took its place, a rarity for New Yorkers to display such emotion especially at an afternoon showing of a G rated movie.

As I went to throw out my popcorn I saw a group of young girls tugging at their mother’s sweaters. “Let’s see it again!” one cried, while another was shooting fake arrows and exclaiming, “Your fate is inside of you!” - a slight paraphrase of Merida’s final declaration. I couldn’t help but wonder if Pixar had changed their fate, if maybe these little girls would stand a bit taller and not be afraid to go after what they want knowing that princesses are no longer defined by the size of their waist or their ability to keep a tidy house, but rather their courage and unwavering bravery.


* Behind the scenes of Pixar's Brave (via Time)

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