There’s just something about Pixar, isn’t there? Even though scores of animation teams have tried to capture the essence of films like WALL-E, Toy Story 3 and Finding Nemo, they can never find the correct amount of humor, story structure, visual spectacle and intense sentimentalism that we’ve all come to expect from the Disney/Pixar institution. Brave isn’t the best Pixar film, but it certainly does not disappoint nor tarnish its company’s reputation.
Brave pinpoints exactly what everyone wants in a family movie (or, a movie in general, depending on your general disposition). That special something is the emotional, even schmaltzy core that's wrapped in comedy and visual spectacle. It’s like a jalapeño popper- the fried stuff is the comedy (always good), visual spectacle the cheese (it tastes better in its higher quality) and the emotion is the pepper itself- the thing that will make you tear up. Of course if there’s too much pepper, it’s unbearable to sit through, too little and you feel gypped from a good experience (I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m hungry?).
Perhaps what I loved the most about Brave was the fact that this was a story about a mother and her daughter. I feel like often films and television shows rely on the father/children aspect for humor, as if a good father figure is so outrageous that there is an inherit plot point. Mothers are maternal, loving, therefore the struggles between a mother and child are never fully explored- at least in the G/PG rated territory. Brave’s battle was between the wild Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) and her queenly mother Elinor (Emma Thompson) over expectations and fate. Through a magical twist of events, the two must learn together what it means to be a free woman. Being close to my own mother, you can assume I was weeping through many parts of the film (the weeping however, I get from my father).
I would highly recommend Brave to anyone in the family- even the gothic teen who just started locking his/her door.