Movie Review: Brave

A wildly independent young woman, three mischievous little brothers, a traditional loving mother, a daddy who’s wrapped around his daughter’s finger and the struggles that result are at the core of Disney and Pixar’s new film, Brave. Set in the lush Scottish highlands, this coming of age story has something for everyone.  After reading the book, (thank you John Flynn) my daughter (11), son (9), and I went to see Brave the first weekend it opened.

As a mother of a pre-teen daughter, I loved the idea of a strong-willed and athletic heroine who was fighting to chart her own course. Merida, the central character, is desparately hoping to break with tradition and be who she wants to be, not what her mother, in particular, says she must be.

It’s like the plot of the movie was written for Domestic Square Peg!

At the heart of the family is love and respect. I was pleased to see that the mother, Elinor, is not portrayed in the typically clueless and out of touch manner I often see in animated films. It’s quite the opposite. Although the father, King Fergus, is the obvious ruler of the clan, Elinor, more often than not, is the level-headed albeit quiet brains behind most decisions.

“Legends are lessons that ring with truth”

This is a line that gets repeated throughout the movie and is one of my daughter’s favorites. Being an outdoorsy nature girl herself, my daughter was quickly enthralled by Merida’s amazing skills on horseback, and her exciting escapes in the forest. The naughty younger brothers hit close to home too. I am sure she also had similar feelings on not wanting to do everything her mother (who me?) wants. I even bet that if she could, she’d turn me into a bear the next time I insist she wash her hair!

There’s enough archery, chase scenes, and kilt lifting to keep my son entertained. He lives with two strong women and has many more in his life, so the plot was nothing new to him but I really appreciated him seeing it on the big screen. The heroine does not depend on a man or a prince to “save her” and that is a good lesson for girls AND boys.

The end of the movie is tied up in a bow with a good lesson and an even better conversation starter for our dinner table discussion that night, as we all explained it to Dad. My kids kindly offered to take him back to see it. How generous of them.

“If you had a chance to change your fate, would you?”

When I asked my kids if there were any of our family traditions or rules that they would like to change, they looked at me odd and said, “Strict bedtimes. Manners at the dinner table. Colored shirts. Chores. No video games. Asparagus. Putting half our money in the bank…” The list went on.

Just wait until I tell them that if they move back home after College and have a job, they will have to pay rent. Now, that’s a family tradition that’s non-negotiable.

All in all, we enjoyed Brave, and think it may be a good fit for your family too.

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