Brave is probably one of the simpler outings from Pixar, but it is very easy on the eyes and strikes a nice balance of fun and maturity.
Merida is a Scottish princess whose wild, playful, adventurous nature is completely smothered with her mother’s idea of what a princess should be. When their strife gets the better of them, Merida seeks aid from a mysterious old woman living in the forest to “change her mother” and settle the argument.
Bar one exception (cough, Cars 2) Pixar is one studio that consistently excels both in storytelling and visual flare, and one can easily set the bar far higher when judging their products and root out any flaws… Brave is a simple tale compared to the other more “sprawling” stories, and feels like a short hundred minutes, but it makes up for this with having a big heart, immensely likeable characters, beautiful animation and a surprisingly dark, sometimes sinister tone.
That’s right, there’s a lot of mystery and magic in Brave’s story (and in its PR; seriously I knew very little going into it) and some of the younger audience, especially the very little, might find it scary and confusing in an emotional manner. While it isn’t as heart-wrenching as UP, its emotional strife is more around family, family conflict and misunderstanding. It is a great twist on what could have been another Disney princess story.
That’s all the adult stuff, there is plenty for the kids too! While Brave has some terrific scares, it has some good slapstick fights and chase scenes that don’t feel as abrasive as UP‘s. Merida’s three younger brothers are a hoot, and frankly all of the characters are instantly likeable. Yes, the Scottish accents are insanely thick (sometimes deliberately undecipherable!) but as a Scot, I wasn’t offended, in fact I was impressed with the vocabulary that Pixar was dishing out. It gave the film a happy-go-lucky, heart-over-mind charm.
Overall, if you don’t expect too much, Brave is an excellent family animation with “family” at its core. Simple, but has something for everyone.