CATEGORY: WORDS: Joshua Kelhoffer

Rating: ★★★★☆

Cinematography: Excellent      
Film Score: Good    
Entertainment Value: Medium to High 
Re-Watch Value:  High      

For 17 years, Pixar has been the leading name in innovative children’s films that tell compelling stories with rich characters that their parents enjoy, as well. And for those 17 years, their competitors have rarely come close to capturing their quality, family-aimed storytelling. The reason is in their recipe; with Dreamworks Animation, the heart is in the subtext, while focusing on the humor and tomfoolery. With Pixar, heart is the context. Not only can you feel the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into making their films, but the love and positive energy, as well.

Brave doesn’t have the beautiful opening montage of Up. Nor do you feel the multitude of emotions that the final moments of Toy Story 3 unearthed. And never once was I as moved by Brave as I was by the silent interactions of Wall-E and Eve. But that doesn’t that mean that when Brave hit its emotional peaks, I didn’t feel a rush of positive emotions flowing through me.

There is something powerful about the breakdown in communication between a parent and their child. Queen Elinor, befitting and sophisticated, wishes her daughter to be proper, uptight, and, yes, “boorrrrriiinnnnnggg!” Princess Merida, a strong-willed lass with flowing red hair and a perfect aim for archery, wishes to be free to be herself and make her own decisions. And both parties strongly feel that the other person does not and will not listen to them. Communication is an effective theme; not exactly an original one, but after all this time, it still easily resonates amongst parents and adolescents.

As the story progresses, Merida makes a decision that ultimately puts their ability to communicate to the test. At this stage, Pixar manages to “borrow” major plotlines from two Disney films made in the past 25 years. One of them is The Little Mermaid, but unlike Arial, Merida actually lives up to her mistake; as opposed to sitting back and playing “the helpless victim.”  With good reason, I am choosing not to disclose the title of the other, far more recent Disney film. But know this, Merida and her mother in the situation where each of them must “listen” to each other, while working to together to set things straight. The lesson being, communication isn’t a one way street.

I’ve  been pondering the film’s title and I’m not quite sure “Brave” fits the story. The story is about many things, but it isn’t about facing your fears. It’s a simplistic title, but I think the original title fits the film better, but perhaps it would have drawn far too many comparisons with that mostly forgotten , “other Disney film?”

Verdict: Disney/Pixar have once again made a delightful film that is fun for the whole family.

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