Posts Written by Caitlin

Review: Pixar’s Brave is braver than it looks

Pixar’s Brave is every fairy tale and none of them. It’s every trope and none of them. It’s filled with lovable scamps, bumbling eccentrics, defiant courage, enchanted landscapes, stifling expectations and unintended consequences. And it’s filled with beautiful brogue and wayward redheads.

I’m going to talk my way through this movie. It’s currently 10:30pm. I left the movie theater 30 minutes ago, oddly silent as I tried to figure out what the message was that I got from that film. What follows is my first attempt to process the story, and to figure out whether or not it follows in the footsteps of Tangled, the cinematic anthem for ex-fundamentalist daughters.

My review will be full of spoilers. If you prefer to watch the movie unspoiled, please stop here. Below the jump is where the wild things are: any plot point is fair game!

Brave is a coming-of-age story about a mother and daughter.

Merida and her mother both have some growing to do.

Let that sink in for a moment. Coming of age stories never feature mothers and daughters. They’re a father-son genre. They’re often explicitly about separation from one’s mother and finding independent manhood. Half the time, the main character’s mother is dead, absent or emotionally withdrawn.

Does having not only (a) a female lead, but also (b) a conflict driven not by romance or masculinity but by a daughter’s fight for independence and a mother’s pragmatic (if stifling) plans alter the meaning of the coming-of-age trope? ...