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Carole Mallory Headshot

Review: Brave Is Worth Waiting For

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Amazing. A feminist cartoon and a joy to behold. The visual mixed media almost makes this 3D viewing come right off the screen into your lap and your heart. Photorealism. And unlike Madagascar 3 this Pixar treat has a refreshing and unpredictable plot. Brave is the story of a woman who wants to be liberated and freed from the shackles of tradition. Pixar's first movie toplined by a female character.

Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is our heroine. She is a Scottish princess who is of the age that her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) and father King Magus (Billy Connolly) are determined to arrange a marriage for her to maintain the peace of her neighboring countries ruling clans. She watches her chosen suitors and is repulsed at the selection along with her brothers, triplets with the same cascading red hair as Merida and King Magus. A competition between these three bullies and imbeciles is arranged in the form of a competition of archery. The voices of the clan chiefs are Craig Ferguson, Kevin McKidd, and Robbie Coltrane.

"I'm Merida," she announces. "I'll be shooting for my own hand." Her mother is horrified. "This whole marriage is what you want. Trying to make me be like you. I'll never be like you. I'd rather die than be like you."

Merida wins the archery competition and beats out all three suitors which should mean that she has won the right to her own future. Her life. Her freedom. Her fate. Her prowess with the bow and arrow humiliates the suitors and proves them unworthy of her. Still the Queen mother wants Merida to marry. Driven by a thirst for independence and freedom Merida escapes the castle and hordes of neighbors celebrating what they expect to be an impending marriage which will benefit their families socially and financially. Merida is viewed as a trophy or piece of flesh...meat by all -- due to tradition.

"I want a spell to change my fate. I want the right to choose whom I marry," Merida cries.

She jumps on her horse and gallops into the forest to find an answer to her trap of wanting her mother's love and still wanting to defy the Queen by not abiding with the her wishes. Will o'the wisps lead her to a witch's lair where she asks the witch played both comically and tyranically to give her something to put a spell on her mother. The witch (Julie Walters) bakes a dessert and Merida gallops back to her castle to give this cake to the Queen. Sure enough the Queen takes a bite and turns into a kindly bear. The rest of the film is about Merida defending her mother from an impending death because she is now an enormous bear. Her husband the King sees this bear as danger, a threat. The animation of the bear is terrific and gives such sympathy to this towering creature that you end up rooting for this gigantic grizzly that must run for her life from the town's folk determined to kill her in the name of safety.

Merida tries to explain to her father about the magic spell put on her mother, but he will not listen.

This Pixar animated story is multilayered. Not only for children, but adults. Especially those who impose their wishes as well as material and social needs upon their child by insisting the child have the same values.

This is a fable about values and relinquishing control of others. The moral is our fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.

Directors Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman co-wrote and directed this dandy with added screenplay help from Steve Purcell and Irene Mecchi. Brave deserves to be a box office success which is almost a guarantee. See it and enjoy it with both children and adults as this mixed audience tries to find a better way to love each other and to relate by giving each other the right to freedom. To independence. To choose. Forget public opinion. Follow your heart and all will be healed. If you have to stand in a long line, it will be worth it.

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