I ask you, who doesn’t like a Pixar movie? Seriously — tell me who and I will fight them. Because I flipping LOVE Pixar movies, ever since my first amazing experience watching Toy Story – now known as Toy Story 1 to my kids because there are so many of them. My kids, I mean. I have a crapton of kids. Also, coincidentally, the movie. There are a crapton of Toy Story movies and I was referring to the first one of the series. Ah-may-zing. Seriously. I remember being absolutely blown away by everything about it, but most especially, blown away by the realization that I was witnessing the dawn of the future of animation.
Admittedly, though my monkeys are far beyond the days where they’d raise sweet, cherubic, fatty-toddler hands toward the golden screen attempting to catch the action, I have seen almost every Pixar flick on the big screen — ALMOST — because I am still so desperately in love with the filmmaking, the storytelling and the sheer beauty of the CGI. Seen ‘em all … except Cars 2. Cars are stupid. (Just tell NASCAR fans.)
I was personally giddy when I asked my 9-year-old to go to the preview of Brave – YAY, PIXAR! – and yet, I was tentative. See, at 9, my little girl is on the cusp of her own emotional growth spurt. She’s a tween now, and has officially entered the era where virtually everything I do either embarrasses her, or is simply wrong. Example: A few weeks back, it was “Muffins and Mom” day at her school. Moms are supposed to go to the school with their loving children and enjoy some quality one-on-one time over donuts. And muffins. Whatevs.
So my daughter and I are walking onto campus when she was suddenly seized with a polarizing fear akin to what happens when someone bursts in on your bathroom stall, or when you’re the only person dressed for the costume party. “What if there are no other moms?” she said in her small voice, glancing around furtively. “I don’t see any other moms.”
This didn’t bother me at all. On the contrary, I understood her terror; I experienced it when I was about her age, as well. What’s not to be embarrassed about? I know I have a hardy guffaw, a loud voice and quite frankly, general “mom” cooties — EXACTLY like my mom had back then. And my daughter? She adores my mother like no other woman on the planet. So my hope is she will suffer immeasurable guilt when I’m Grammy, and her daughter asks why she “can’t have a mom like Grammy.” Circle of life, et al.
To sate her nerves, I said, “I’ll walk over here. You walk ahead. We won’t look like we’re together.” Totally relieved, she walked ten feet ahead of me until she spotted other moms. Then, even more relieved, she slowed enough to make it look like the whole thing never happened. (It’s times like this when it takes all your effort not to hug and kiss your child reassuringly.)
Back to the film: I didn’t know if my little, sweet baby girl would want to see Brave just with her muhh-thuuuurrr (*rolls eyes*). But she was excited to go; mostly because — duh — PIXAR MOVIE.
And what a movie. You know how in every Disney flick the mom dies, is dead, or is replaced by some evil surrogate? Brace yourselves: This movie actually has a living mom. I KNOW, RITE?
In fact, Brave is a story about a mother and her daughter, about their levels of expectation, about their relationships to both each other and to their world.
Even better? The mother is a strong female character; the daughter is also a strong female character. There is no male character that comes to save the damaged princess — oh! And there is no damaged princess. Just individuals with different desires and ways of approaching the world.
Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is a Scottish princess who is coming of age. Her mother, Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson), organizes a match wherein the lords of the kingdom present their first-born sons to vie for Merida’s hand. Athletic, outdoorsy Merida doesn’t want marriage; graceful yet regal Elinor wants to mold her daughter for the throne. Naturally, Merida rebels against ancient custom, thus setting the kingdom into chaos. When Elinor is beset with a spell that changes her completely, Merida’s bravery and skills that are put to the test. The question: Can Merida undue the curse, save her mother and set the kingdom right?
The film — created in 3D — is wonderful and witty, amazingly well-written and beautifully animated. Pixar studios retooled their entire animation process to make the complex visuals possible. (So expect an Oscar nod — I’m calling it early.)
But what captivated me most of all was the timeliness of the script in my personal world. My daughter and I are so very alike that we can’t help to butt heads on occasion; she has begun slogging the long, twisting path of “whatever mom says in wrong,” that sadly won’t end until she heads off for college. The upside? We both loved the film, and the message: moms and daughters are different people, but despite age — both can overcome pride.
In my complex rating system? I give Brave an A. It’s a must-see.