Brave is the story of Scottish princess Merida, a talented archer, and with the best head of red hair since Ariel. Custom dictates that she must marry one of the sons of the three rival Scottish clans, and a gathering is called for her to choose her future husband.
Brave, the new offering from Pixar
She doesn't really like this idea and after humiliating all her potential suitors in an archery contest and a big fight with her mum, she runs off to buys a spell from a witch which will 'change her fate'.
Now, this is the tag line from all the official Pixar advertising: 'change your fate'. Nothing wrong with that, but since they are trumpeting the fact this is the first Pixar offering with a female protagonist then surely they should have given her more chutzpah than to resort to magic to deal with a man and mummy problem. I'm not sure it's the type of solution I want my own kids to resort to when they inevitably become teenagers and decide I am not the best mummy in the world.
The spell backfires and Merida inadvertently turns her mother into a big black bear. As you do.
Cue sub-plot number 1: Merida's father had his leg eaten off by a bear and now has a tendency to go all Terminator on anything large and furry. The quest becomes how to break the spell and keep the Queen safe from her bear-destroying husband and all his brawling Scottish mates. And yes, there are a few Braveheart gags: blue faces, kilt-lifting and that sort of craic.
Bears. Lots of scary bears. Image courtesy of Pixar and Disney.
Up to this point I had been happy enough with the plot, despite its lack of gags and usual Pixar wit. I was more challenged by eating popcorn with my left hand and not dropping it on the baby's head.
But then sub-plot number 2 was introduced, the two year wandered off, the five year old started crying and the film began to lose relevance. Something about an old legend with four brothers, a chess-board and a really grumpy, age-defying bear? Whatever.
The bears got angrier and scarier, the magic got darker, and the kids got more upset. Initially I thought the five year was just pretending to be scared because she was a little bored. No, the tears were genuine and we had to high-tail it out of there about an hour into the 93 minute film.
So I am not entirely sure what happened in the end. It's a Disney/Pixar so I presume it has a happy ending. I doubt the bear winds up as a decorative throw rug. The Pixar, Wikipedia and IMDb websites all use phrases such as 'memorable characters', 'true meaning of bravery' and 'full of heart'.
True, it is one of only three of Pixar's thirteen offerings to receive a PG rating and I really should have read the disclaimer on the brochure which warned of 'scary scenes' but really, after watching the Toys almost get burned alive without blinking in Toy Story 3, I thought my kids could cope with anything.
Anything except bears apparently. Or maybe the crazy red haired, arrow-shooting, argumentative Merida just reminded them too much of their own mum.