Now, Pixar has never made a bad movie. (Ahem.) Like I said, Pixar has rarely made a bad movie. (AHEM!) Damn you written inner monologue! Fine! Pixar more times than not makes good movies. Monster’s Inc, A Bugs Life, Finding Nemo, Toy Story Trilogy, Up, Wall-E and my personal favorite The Incredibles. They are animated films that bring something for the kids aching to see them and also the parents forced to bring them. They’re smart. They’re funny. They’re poignant. They’re worthy entertainment. The lastest Pixar film Brave, however, falls short of this.
Brave got a lot of attention as being the first Pixar film with a strong female lead. This got my attention even though I didn’t see the big deal. It isn’t like females in previous Pixar films were worthless background noise. ElastiGirl from The Incredibles might be one of the strongest animated female characters in film history. After seeing Brave, a very misleading title by the way, I would not place Princess Merida anywhere in Helen Parr’s league.
What if I told you a tomboyish princess, who trained to be an archer/warrior her entire life, was opposed to her prissy mother’s demands to marry her off to the suitors of rival kingdoms? Still with me right? Now, what if I told you her refusal to marry plunged her kingdom into war? Awesome! Then what if the princess and her mother are sent away by the king for their own safety? Uh oh! Then what if they were ambushed and attacked by men from a rival kingdom? Oh Sh*t! But what if the princess, escapes with her mother? Wow! What if the princess used every bit of the skills she’d learned from her warrior father to travel across the dangerous countryside back home? Nice! What if, while avoiding capture and surviving the elements, the princess proves to her mother that there are things a woman can aspire to be other than a stuffy aristocrat. A woman can actually aspire to be “Brave”. You’d want to see that right? So would I. Too bad that isn’t what this film is about.
Sure Princess Merida is being forced into marriage. But instead of the story going the way you want it to, it changes into a silly body transformation comedy no better than that Tim Allen Shaggy Dog remake. Don’t look forward to seeing Princess Merida using that bow in the above picture in any meaningful way. It doesn’t make a bit of difference in this film’s story. She could have been awesome with a boomerang or slingshot and it would not make a bit of difference in this film. Merida is also NOT A STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER. She is a whiny, petulant, prideful child that makes a decision that could only be described as DUMB. At no point did I see her as brave. The brave thing to do would be to confront the issues she had with her mother head on. Instead, she avoids doing the brave thing pretty much for this entire movie.
Think my version of what I hoped Brave to be is too adult? Then let me remind you that the beginning of Up centers around infertility and a subsequent psychological breakdown. The Incredibles deals with the issues of a midlife crisis, infidelity and McCarthyism. A Bug’s Life is literally a remake of the Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai. Wall-E is set during a post apocalyptic future. And Toy Story 3….oh boy…Toy Story 3 was a few frames away from being the ballsiest allegory for mortality ever. A Scottish female version of Rescue Dawn is not too much to ask for.
Brave also has an OVERLY PREACHY message about fate that would be lost on a child and insult the intelligence of an adult. A message narrated to us just so they could tie it back to the, again, misleading title. The film should be called Pride if anything. It is the only thing I see at work in the main character. This could have been a film that might have set an example as to how to make a movie with a strong female lead. However, it comes across more like a medieval episode of That’s So Raven. (Yes, I’ve seen it. Don’t judge me.) A film UNWORTHY to be under the Pixar banner. I expect this from Disney Studios but not these guys. Brave it…then tell me I’m wrong.