July 1, 2012 -- Disney-Pixar was off its game last year with the sequel “Cars 2” which failed to win the Academy Award for best animated film, an Award that Pixar usually owns. Pixar is back with a better effort this year, “Brave,” starring a bonny red-haired Scottish lass in a movie about girl power.
“Brave” has the usual strong Pixar story, good animation and a lot of good music with a Celtic flavor. It isn't quite as good as the best animated films of the past few years, but it may be good enough to win another Oscar.
The main character is Merida, a warrior at heart trapped in the body of a princess. Her parents, Fergis and Elinor, have arranged for Merida to be married to one of the eldest sons of one of the three regional clans. A contest will be held to determine which of the three clan leader's sons will marry her. Merida is not ready to be married and objects to the whole contest.
Merida manages to thwart the contest and then flees into the forest where she encounters a witch. She buys a magic spell from the witch, in the form of a cake. She lets her mother eat the cake with the intention of using the magic spell to change her mother's mind about Merida's marriage.
As is often the case in these kinds of the stories, the magic spell has very serious unintended consequences. This leads to a great deal of frantic activity as Merida and her mother scramble to undo the magic spell. The witch who created the spell is no help. She's gone off somewhere, leaving Merida and her mother and Merida's three small younger brothers, Harris, Hubert, and Hamish, to figure out how to decipher the witch's parting riddle that will tell them how to undo the spell before it is too late. Fergis and the rest of the men in the kingdom are clueless and of no help at all in this endeavor. Only her faithful horse, Angus, is any help at all.
During the course of all this, Merida learns something about the love her mother has for her. Merida's mother also learns something about the bravery and resourcefulness of her daughter. The three younger brothers of Merida are strictly there for comic relief, and some of their outrageous antics are funny. Another character, Maudie, a nurse, seems to be in the story mainly to scream and faint. The only other character with much of a role is the elderly Lord MacGuffin, a very salty and colorful clan leader who moons another clan leader in one scene.
The message of the movie does get through, and it is moving. The film is dedicated to the late Steve Jobs, former head of Pixar. This film rates a B.
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