SCOTLAND, sometime in the second-half of the first eon: in Brave, the clans are uneasily united under mountainous King Fergus (voiced by Billy Connolly). Bears are still a threat. Much celebrated is the time the King fought off the demon bruin Mor’du, losing his leg in the process.
Budding Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is a charming redhead warrior who loves to speed on her charger, thwacking arrows into targets. But her mother decides it is time for her to marry. Three unsuitable suitors sail in: a chinless twerp, a beaky punk and a pudding-faced lummox. Merida runs away, and in the darkest part of the forest, she encounters a cracked and elderly wood carver (Julie Walters) who is bribed for a spell to change her mother’s mind. This spell backfires drastically.
The moral of Brave is “legends are lessons.” This Pixar cartoon proves the rule by doing what fairy tales do best: it doesn’t just divert a kid with fantasy, it also commiserates with children. It illuminates the turmoil that exists in the best families. Any adolescent daughter or mother might feel Brave’s allegory keenly, especially when the argument here goes to DEFCON after the elder pulls rank: “I am the Queen. You listen to me.”
Yes, Brave is a galloping, hilarious adventure; Merida ends up playing charades with a bear, in a passage worthy of Chuck Jones. But it’s also a very serious film: it observes the animal level of fury that arises in a family feud.
If Brave deserves its PG, this isn’t because of the quality of the violence, but because of what that violence expresses. Hardly any cartoons, and even fewer features, go where this movie goes. And there were moments when I felt I hadn’t been this rapt by a medieval fantasy since Lord of the Rings.
3-D or not 3-D, that is the question. Not. The plastic goggles mute the color spectrum so much that it’d be better to have it flat—to fully take in the darkness of the forest’s greens, meant to make Merida’s fine red hair pop out. The film’s one snag: Brave’s reconciliation seems too smooth, given the scale of the fight.
PG; 100 min.
Opens Friday, June 22, 2012
Come celebrate the 4th Annual Pixar Carnival at Camera 7 Cinema in Campbell’s Pruneyard Shopping Center this weekend, June 22–24, with three days of events, prizes and festivities celebrating the opening of Pixar’s latest animated classic, BRAVE. Fun for the whole family with live entertainment by Los Gatos Pipes and Drums, Highland Games, face painting, balloon entertainemtn, archery games for the kiddies, snow cones, and much more!