by Rick Grant
This latest Pixar/Disney animated film promotes Scottish pride with its lush landscapes, snow capped mountains, and waterfalls. Yet, the richly detailed characters are funny and the film is generally entertaining. Aye, after enjoying this magical highland romp, I donned my Grant clan hat and kilt.
The story is a spinoff on the often troubled relationship between a mother Elinor (Emma Thompson) and her daughter, Merida (Kelly Macdonald). The fiery Merida has entered her rebellious stage, refusing to give in to her mother’s demand that she marry one of the three clans’ suitors. This is a political arranged marriage to keep peace among the clans who banded together to defeat the invaders, but now are fighting with each other.
The giant King Fergus (Billy Connolly) towers over his wife Elinor and daughter Merida with fearsome bluster, but he’s as meek as a teddy bear when his wife lays down the law. Merida ignores her mother’s wishes and acts as a free spirit with her trusty steed, Angus that takes her on adventures into the forest where she practices her archery.
As the years go by, Merida has made it clear her soul is as free as the wind and she will not play castle politics. She has also become a crack shot with the bow and arrow. She rides through the land with her flaming red hair as her flag of freedom.
When Merida’ s mom finally wins out and she’s forced to meet the suitors, she can’t believe what wimpy fools they are. There is no way she will marry any of these losers. So she hops on Angus and heads for the woods. There she walks into a magical circle of stones and meets a witch (Julia Walters) who whips up a powerful potion that will cast a spell on Merida’s mother. She doses a sweet-cake with the potion and serves it to her unsuspecting mom.
Of courseMerida realizes she’s gone too far and is horrified by her own sinister machinations, as is her mom, who now has to live as a female bear. The party that was originally thrown to introduce Merida to her suitors has turned into a drunken brawl. And worse, Elinor’s three triplet tikes eat the cake with the spell potion and now are three little bears. These mischievous little guys almost steal the movie.
Mayhem spreads through the castle as the drunken clan members chase the bear (Elinor) into the wilderness. Yeah, it’s pure fantasy but the characters are so finely developed, it’s hilarious, especially when Elinor, now a bear, tries to communicate with Merida using an impromptu sign language.
The story is not overwhelmed by 3-D effects or the far-out fantasy of Merida turning her mother into a bear. What is clear, Merida’s genuine love for her mother and how much she regretted using the witches spell. Merida even changes the tradition of arranged marriages to get out of marrying any of the morons the clans presented to her. Teenage girls and their mothers will love “Brave,” as well as well as almost everyone.
Brave Movie Review
by Rick Grant