Sunday, July 1, 2012


Brave's Merida after swimming.

So, with most movies today you get the entire plot laid out in the trailers and other media that comes out. In fact, for the new Spiderman movie, I believe someone has put together a 25 minute movie of all of the clips and bits released in special features that tells the entire story. As much as I hate it, I suppose it works for marketing as despite knowing everything you will see ahead of time, these movies still make hundreds of millions of dollars. As a movie-going audience, we don't like to be surprised because then we might have to think.

However, Pixar's Brave is the antithesis of that. At least for the causal enthusiast who hasn't gone out of his way to look up previews, special features and spoilers. I just knew that it was about a princess who wanted independence and assumed we'd be a rather stereotypical movie along that fare.

So when the actual meat of the plot hit me, I was rather surprised. A little disappointed, but mostly just surprised.

The first twenty minutes of the movie was essentially what was predicted in the trailers and such. Young teenage princess forced to marry, but wants to lead her own life, so she takes a stand and "wins her own hand" through her own "tomboyish" ways, much to the chagrin of her more royalty disciplined mother.

However, then the movie takes a swerve that I didn't really expect as Merida, the princess, finds Deus-ex Machina the Witch who can solve her problem and ends up turning her mother into a bear. So, now remorseful, Merida has to try to undo the spell which can only be undone by a metaphoric mending of broken bonds. Complicating the mother's transformation is the fact that the father's entire lineage revolves around being the fierce bear-killer.

So, what I originally thought was going to be a rather traditional story told in mostly non-magical world with just a Highlands backdrop, instead turned into a mystical story of rather unusual effect. So in that regard, I was a bit disappointed. I didn't like the magical aspect of the story.

However, there are a few things that I really liked. First, it's Pixar. It was beautiful to look at. But what most impressed me is that it was a mother-daughter movie. There aren't a lot of them in animation. Usually, the mother was killed in some horrible fashion early on and you either had struggles against a replacement matriarch figure or a daughter trying to fit in awkwardly with her overly male father figure, hence not having full understanding.

Instead, Merida got along well with her father, but the mother was the source of conflict. In the end, Merida and her mother grew to learn much more about one another and became closer.

I am a little disappointed at how they found the "middle ground" in which they eventually settled in. Merida didn't win her mother's trust or affection until she was willing to give up and be married to a man not of her choice. Only then did the mother concede her daughter her freedom. It's just an awkward message. I suppose it's sort of a Abraham's test, where faith was only proven once willingness to do the extreme was proven. But it just seems a rather harsh means of proving for a mother's understanding.

But anyhow, the movie was good. Just not quite as great as I had expected. I'm glad that I was thrown off by the bear swerve, but regardless, I still think I would have been happier with no magic and just a more standard tale of rebellious daughters with kilts as a backdrop.

Molly: (As usual, Molly is sitting next to me as I type this. Because of her age, her portion of the review will be in Q&A form. I'll ask her a question and transcribe her answers and format it later.)

Chuckie: So, what did you think about the movie "Brave"?
Molly: I liked it.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Well, I didn't like some parts since, like, there was, like, a bad bear and, like, saw a part because I thought it was over and I was covering my eyes, but I looked because I thought it was over but it wasn't. And I did not like more parts.

Chuckie: What other parts didn't you like?
Molly: Um, when the guys were trying to kill Brave's mom and when the mom was trying to kill Brave. And one more part. When, um, Brave uh... I don't know what that cake thing was...

Chuckie: It was a cake.
Molly: Okay then. Um, Brave gave her mom a cake and she said that she made it herself, but she didn't because a witch made it and then she turned into a bear. Well, I kind of liked that part because it was a little funny.

Chuckie: Okay, so to sum it up, you thought that parts of the movie were a little intense and didn't like those parts.
Molly: What does intense mean?
Chuckie: In this sense it means strong, extreme and very evocative in feelings.
Molly: Uhhh... yeah. Or you could say violent. Since, like I saw a violent part.
Chuckie: Alright. Violent works as well. What violent parts are you talking about though?
Molly: Um, when I saw the mean bear parts. He was violent.

Chuckie: Okay, that's fair. Now, you said that you liked it overall though. So what did you like about the movie?
Molly: Um, wait a minute. I remember another bad part. When she yelled at her mom and ripped her dress.

Chuckie: Alright, but you still haven't listed anything you liked about the movie.
Molly: I liked when like the girl and father was laughing.

Chuckie: Anything else?
Molly: I liked when the mom made the picture and that made me remember something that the girl did that I did not like: when the girl ripped the picture.

Chuckie: Alright, so it seems to come down to the fact that you have a lot of feelings about the relationships in the movie. Can you tell me what thought about the relationship between Merida and her father?
Molly: What?
Chuckie: Merida is Brave.
Molly: Oh. The fighted and they got along.

Chuckie: They fought?
Molly: Yeah.
Chuckie: When?
Molly: Remember when they surrounded the bear and he wouldn't listen to her and they fighted.
Chuckie: Oh yeah.
Molly: You didn't remember that?
Chuckie: Well, not exactly. But I guess it does bring up an interesting dynamic of the relationships. As Merida became closer to her mother, she in effect began to oppose her father.
Molly: Huh?

Chuckie: Well, earlier in the film, Merida was her father's daughter. She fought with her mother and had a closer relationship with her father. Merida and her father trusted each other's consul and knew what one another wanted, but her mother was on the outskirts. But then, as Merida became closer to her mother and protected her as a bear, her father was on the outskirts and was the misunderstanding authority figure that opposed them. So Merida never truly reached a balance in her personal relationships with her family, but merely set a pendulum swinging that moved the other direction closer to her mother.
Molly: I still don't get it.

Chuckie: In the beginning, Merida liked her dad better and fought with her mom. At the end, she liked her mom better and fought with her dad.
Molly: Uh, it's so confusing. It's like she's time traveling in different places.
Chuckie: Wait. What?
Molly: Well, it's like she's time traveling in different places, but the movie doesn't let us see.
Chuckie: How is she time traveling?
Molly: Maybe the show didn't let us see.
Chuckie: But, why do you think she's time traveling?
Molly: Because she keeps switching. The dad liked her, then the mom liked her and da da da...
Chuckie: No. I think she just changed her feelings in the movie in a linear time sense. She just changed her mind. I don't think time travel was involved.
Molly: Oh. So it just all happened in their brains?
Chuckie: Uh, yeah. I think. What do you mean?
Molly: I mean they made up their minds on their own.
Chuckie: Yeah. They just changed their opinions because of how people acted.
Molly: Oh.

Chuckie: Alright, so tell me about the relationship between Merida and her mother?
Molly: They were fighting.

Chuckie: Did they make up by the end?
Molly: Yeah.
Chuckie: Why?
Molly: Well, kind of.
Chuckie: What do you mean?
Molly: Well, remember when her mom was a bear and her eyes turned black and she was going to be a bear? That's what I meant by kind of.

Chuckie: Okay, but why did they make up at the end?
Molly: Their feelings.
Chuckie: Okay. Technically, but what changed their feelings?
Molly: They learned that in a family everyone should love each other.

Chuckie: Who was your favorite character in the movie?
Molly: Merida.
Chuckie: What did you like about her?
Molly: Well, I wanted to tell you something. Um, in the commercial she said "when do I get to choose?" and it was a girl who looked like her because she had orange curly hair.
Chuckie: Okay... Uh, but what did you like about her?
Molly: Um, I liked her dress, but not the hood thing. The white hood. I did not like that.
Chuckie: But what did you like about the character and her personality?
Molly: That hood looked like a white plastic bag on her head.
Chuckie: Yes, I suppose so. But what did you like about the character and personality?
Molly: Um, I liked that she could use a bow and arrow. That's kind of like my personality, but I throw darts instead. And when I grow up, I'm going to have the exact same hair. I'm going to dye my hair orange and then I'll put lots of braids in it, then when I take the braids out it will be all curly. Then I'll be just like her. Except I'll throw darts.

Chuckie: That's right. And what did you say you wanted to be for Halloween?
Molly: Merida. And I wish I could dye my hair orange now. Can I?
Chuckie: Let's ask mom on that one.
Molly: Yay!

(Editor's Note: Sorry to put that "no" onto you, Jess.)

Chuckie: Alright, so how would you rate the movie?
Molly: Stars and moons and suns.

Chuckie: Okay, so..
Molly: Wait! Instead of suns, can I do little sprinkles of suns? Oooh! Wait! Instead of suns, can I do fireworks? sings Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? Drifting through the wind, trying to start again? I forget the rest.
Chuckie: You can rate it however you like, Pixie. It's your review. What do you want to start with?
Molly: Um, fireworks!

Chuckie: Okay, how many fireworks do you give it?
Molly: Sixty one. "Out of how many" you say.
Chuckie: Yes, I do. Out of how many?
Molly: I would've given it thirty one, but I thought that maybe I should have given it a higher number because I liked it better, then I gave it a higher number.
Chuckie: That's fair. But out of how many?
Molly: Out of thirty one.
Chuckie: Oh. Okay. I misunderstood what you meant by that.
Molly: Now stars.

Chuckie: Okay, how many stars would you give it?
Molly: Um, I cannot decide on which number I want. I'm thinking of sixty-two and seventy-one. I can't decide which one I want to give it.
Chuckie: Yeah, I suppose that is tough.
Molly: I just wish I could make a picture instead.
Chuckie: It's your review.
Molly: Okay. Then I'll make a picture instead of stars.
Chuckie: Sure thing.
Molly: Yay!

Chuckie: Alright, so what kind of people do you think would like this movie?
Molly: Um, I think maybe Edison. Maybe Mason. Grandmom, Pop Pop. Uncle Neil. Grammy and Pappy. Mike. Jo. Isaac. Kat. You. Mommy. And meeeeeeeeeee!
Chuckie: I meant more of demographic-wise. Like kids or older people or boys or girls.
Molly: That is all of that stuff.

Chuckie: Fair point. Alright, so you seemed to think it was a little intense. Do you think that it is too scary for little kids?
Molly: Jut the black bear part.

Chuckie: Fair enough, Sweetie. Is there anything else you'd like to say about the movie?
Molly: I think the movie was teaching you not to be mean to your mom because she might kill you if she was a bear.
Chuckie: Not sure if that was the exact message they were going for, but close enough.

So, that's our review. It contained a bunch of spoilers in it that weren't given away in the previews, so if you didn't want to read spoilers, you probably shouldn't have read the review.

I liked the movie, but ultimately didn't love it like I thought I would. The messages learned were simple and could have been done without the strange bear-magic swerve, but I still find it interesting to see a take on relationships not usually tackled in children's animated films. And ultimately, it is still miles above Cars.

Molly gives it sixty-one out of thirty-one fireworks. And as a youthful, but insistent "fuck you" to the standard industry of movie reviewers, Molly has decided that instead of stars that she would instead give it this interpretive drawing:

So, from left to right: The Mother, the mother as a bear, the father and Merida. Bottom row is Merida's three brothers.

So that should be rather clear on where she ranks this movie.

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