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Movie Review


Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) in "Brave"

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Rated PG for some scary action and rude humor. 1 hour, 40 minutes.
Publication date: Jun. 22, 2012
Review by Tyler Hanley
Released: (2012)

There is something courageous about Pixar's latest animated offering. Of the 11 feature films Pixar has produced to date, 10 have focused on a male protagonist. There have been boy toys ("Toy Story"), boy bugs ("A Bug's Life"), boy beasts ("Monsters, Inc.") and even boy robots ("WALL-E"). Boys, boys, boys.

Occasionally a strong female character shares the spotlight with the leading male -- such as Elastigirl in 2004's "The Incredibles" and EVE in "WALL-E" -- but for the most part Pixar has been a toon town brimming with testosterone. "Brave" breaks the mold with its vivacious heroine and a plot that explores her relationship with her mother. It would have been easy to follow the generic "young adventurer embarks on a life-changing quest" formula. But some of the best movies are those that dare to be different. "Brave" dares.

Set in the 10th century in the Scottish kingdom of DunBroch, the story follows bow-wielding Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), the daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Elinor is determined to make Merida a polished princess, while Merida's interests are more in line with her father's warrior ways.

Merida's defiance hits a peak when Elinor invites three suitors to compete for her daughter's hand in marriage. The resulting argument causes a rift between Elinor and Merida. Storming off, Merida finds herself at the doorstep of an eccentric witch, who offers her a chance to be free of her mother's influence. What's the first rule in the fantasy guidebook? Never trust a witch. Soon Merida must do everything in her power to reverse the witch's spell.

"Brave" features arguably the best animation ever to grace the big screen. The visuals are fluid and vibrant, from the rolling Highland hills to the crimson strands of Merida's hair. The picture is also awash in playful humor, with plenty of laughs coming courtesy of Merida's three mischievous brothers (and one awkward bear). Many of the voice actors are Scottish-born (Macdonald, Connolly, Kevin McKidd and Robbie Coltrane of the "Harry Potter" franchise, to name a few).

Lads may be disappointed by the wealth of feminine energy, but I found it refreshing. The relationship that evolves between mother and daughter is heartfelt (keep the Kleenex close during the film's climax).

There is a surprising beauty to "Brave" that transcends its visual excellence. This one is worth the risk.

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