Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bring the small glasses.

My two-year old son is adamant about clearly identifying the world into two categories: boy things or girl things. He will tell my wife that she can't watch a certain television show (usually baseball) or play a certain game (usually baseball) because it's for boys, Mom. He will then insist that certain songs on the radio are girl songs and that we can't listen to them. The list goes on and on and I find myself routinely trying to convince him that it's okay for boys to like girl things and girls to like boy things. Being that I am his father and he inherently tunes me out, I enlisted some professional help. Who are these parenting wizards, you ask? Well, the good folks at Pixar, naturally.

I seriously wonder how many millions of dollars were spent on Merida's mane.
Okay, not really. But I wanted to expose him to the less princess-y side of female characters, and more pressing, to entertain the kid for a few hours. Tuesday's film, Brave , succeeds on both fronts.

Outside of the previews, I didn't really know what I was getting us into. I did the relatively responsible thing of looking into the questionable content aspects of the reviews and stumbled upon a major part of the story I wasn't prepared for. That being the curse that Merida asks for (but ultimately must undo), of course. Perhaps that was clear to everyone else in the world, but I didn't get that out of the trailers I had seen. I thought we we're in for let-me-be/I-can-take-care-of myself movie. Brave is that, but it's more of an examination between the relationships between children and their parents, more specifically, between mothers and daughters. Cue the John Mayer (or just punch me in the balls, either one).

The bar is impossibly high, but for my money Pixar delivers yet again. Coming off of last year's soulless Cars 2 [review], they were bound to return to form, and they did. I had read somewhere that this film may seem lacking in that the fantastic isn't as front and center as some of their other films, but the emotional core that makes Pixar films matter sure is. I wasn't the wreck I was near the end of Toy Story 3, but I was certainly vested in the relationship between Merida and her mother. Combine that touching story with the trademark adventure tale and you've got yet another winner from the most bankable force in movies this side of James Cameron (speaking of, do we need three more Avatars?). Goodness.

The trouble with Scotland is that it's full of Scots.
Back to my original point of gender roles (and equality, I suppose), I've read some criticism of the depiction of men in this flick. And while it's true that every male figure presented is essentially a giant oaf, they are at least presented as loyal and caring. Sure, they'll fight at the drop of a hat, but it's altogether harmless. Yes, the ladies are strong and intelligent, but they are far from perfect, too. Bottom line, if anything in this truly movie offends you (outside of Scottish stereotypes, perhaps?), my question to you is: Really?

Aye. That's enough of that. Might as well lift up the kilt and show off my Yays and Boos, colonized-by-wankers style.

  • The animation is so good, you almost don't even notice it anymore. Outside of the bear action, this movie could have been live action.
  • Also top-notch is the voice cast. I wish all movies were set in Scotland. 
  • I thought the three wee devils were going to being annoying and worthless. These kids, and um, bears are great. And having a son, there's only a slight difference between the two.
  • The scene that weaves together the mother's conversation with the father and Merida's conversation with her horse, Angus, was very well done.
  • There's a surprising amount of ass in this one. And I am all for it. Kilt rope, anyone? Honorable mention goes to cleave-diving!
  • Though the previews spoiled it, the archery competition was incredibly well done. You knew how it was going to end but it still impressed (kind of like the whole movie, in a way).
  • I actually laughed out loud numerous times at her mother's bear antics, most notably the scene where they attempt to sneak her up the staircase. A princess does not chortle. Indeed.
  • And a symbol to mothers all over the world. Let your hair down.
  • I missed the beginning of  La Luna because I forgot my son's sippy cup. Ridiculous.
  • This film reminded me that my own mom is an aggresive, all-devouring bear, just not a cool actual one.
  • Scary Other Bear. I think he got to my son with his dead eyes, matted fur and propensity to roar and kill. He acted like such a little girl.
Despite the film being set in Scotland centuries ago and focused on the conflicts of a teenage girl, the messages here are universal. There is quite honestly something for everyone. This is not a girl movie. It's a great movie.


  1. Good review M. You can't go wrong with Pixar no matter what, but with this flick, they really bothered me because it was doing so well for so long, that in the middle when it has a big twist, it bummed me out considerably. Still, not their worst effort by any means.

    1. My wife and I were arguing about what 'the twist' could have been (we see things very differently at times) and how it could have disappointed you.

      I read your review and could understand how you felt it veered and got 'kiddish' but I thought that was necessary. If it didn't do that, it might as well have been a live action film.

      And as a dad with my son in attendance, I was had my fingers crossed up until that point.
      "C'mon...give me some talking animals...c'mon, YES!"

  2. Awesome review, glad you liked the film! So does your son's view on some things are for boys and some are for girls changed after this one? With the amount of female characters being archers he may soon thing archery is only a girl thing :)

    1. I know, right?

      I'd show him LOTR but I think Legolas' sweet locks would only confuse him further.

      I really did like the movie though. Can't understand the backlash.

    2. There's a backlash? I've only been reading the reviews in blogosphere and everyone seems to love it.

      Oh yeah. Legolas is the land of confusion, even for me.

    3. There's some negativity out there, but not from any cool sites. When I was looking up parental information, I stumbled on some venom toward the flick.

      Whatever. I loved it.

  3. Tell your son to get used to girl films. When he enters teenage years he will get dragged to rom-coms for dates.

    Anyway, love your site and sense of humour. Your reviews are definitely different and refreshing. Count me in as a fan.

    1. Ah yes, the rom-com! If he's getting to them on dates as a teenager, he's infinitely cooler than the high school version of his dad.

      And thanks for the kind words! I appreciate it.