With her fiery locks and mischievous smirk, Merida is the poster child for teenage rebellion, and her story is the stuff legends are made from. This isn’t your traditional Disney Princess tale, although Merida is most definitely a princess, it is instead a story of how a daughter and her mom finally learn to see eye to eye.
As the first-born (and only daughter) of King Fergus, it is Merida’s duty to marry the son of one of the Lords to unite her kingdom. A duty her mother (Queen Elinor) has been preparing her for her whole life. But Merida isn’t a prim and proper princess, with a wild streak and a passion for archery, she rebels against the planned betrothal. A rebellion against all her mother has taught her. Mother and daughter are equally misguided in their attempts to squash each others plans and Merida runs off in search of a new fate.
A mysterious witch presents Merida with an answer to her quest to change her mother and thereby her fate. But as with any spell, one must be careful what they wish for, and Merida soon realizes that the change of fate is not as she imagined it would be.
As Merida and her mother work together to break the spell before it becomes permanent, they come to understand and respect the value of their relationship and each other. When the lesson s finally learned and the bond is reformed between mother and child the spell is broken.
This Scottish fairy tale weaves a bit of lore, magic, tradition, family dynamics and, of course, humor into a movie with a lesson for parents and children to remember, but it is not told lightly. While the story is mixed with light-hearted moments, it is a much darker tale than expected. In addition to fighting a terrible bear (Mor’du), and a rather quirky witch, the overall movie has a much heavier feel to it than the traditional Disney fairy tales. Aimed at reaching the girls (+8 years), the movie is clearly not intended to connect with the preschool crowd. Although there were certainly enjoyable moments for my four year old, overall she was not a fan. The humor seemed to go over her head and she was quite afraid of Mor’du. Two other moms with four / five-year-old girls who watched the movie with us agreed that it was a bit scary for their girls, while the nine-year-old daughter (target audience) really liked the movie. In contrast, a friends three-year-old son seemed a bit scared during the movie but happily talked of Mor’du the entire way home.
The stunning 3D effect enhances the magical tale, but it also enhances the scare factor of the larger-than-life Mor’du. While my daughter sat through the entire movie and did not have any lingering fear from the film, I would caution parents of timid young ones to consider seeing the movie in standard format or waiting until the movie is released on DVD. As a huge Disney fan who couldn’t wait to see this movie, it takes a lot for me to tell another parent to wait, but moms know their kids and if yours is a bit fearful, I would hold off.
On the other hand, if you have slightly older (or brave – pun intended) children, run to see this movie in the theater! It is visually beautiful and with its lingering lesson about family and being careful of what you wish for, Brave reminded me of some of Disney’s other great heroines such as Mulan or Pocahontas, but without all of the music. I was actually quite surprised by the lack of songs in the film, although they were not needed for the story, I do love a good Disney score.
One cannot talk about Brave without talking about the Scottish accents, which I loved. The auditory uniqueness of this movie adds to its charm, and while I worried the accent might overtake the dialogue I had no problem understanding every word and following the Scottish jargon as well.
Disney and Pixar’s Brave is destined to be a classic, and I predict lots of little Meridas running around this Halloween.
Brave is in theaters June 22, 2012.
Disclosure – I was invited to a media screening of the movie, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.