Bella and I have been waiting with great anticipation for the release of Brave, Disney and Pixar's first animated movie featuring a female lead. We carved out time to watch it first thing on Friday morning.
And we weren't disappointed.
Merida is fierce and funny. Her mane bright red curls is frizzy and unruly. Her attitude is clearly and undeniable teenaged and determined. Bella was in love from the moment Merida launched herself on a horse and galloped through a forest, shooting bulls-eyes with impeccable aim.
I kept looking over at the heroine in my story -- that little girl who has a wolf heart and a staunch belief in her own power -- to gauge her engagement in the story on the screen. She was hooked. She laughed at the juvenile, slapstick humor. She cried at the tender moments and her heart wrenched when things seemed least hopeful. She was thoroughly in Merida's world.
And I loved the movie, too. I found myself wishing I could have Merida's hair, that I could slice an arrow from 50 feet away, that I could drive a horse through rough, wet terrain to save the day.
Warning: Of course, Brave wasn't without pitfalls. Bella was petrified during the three big bear fight scenes. There are three of them and I've heard many parents say their children simply couldn't handle that level of fear. The movie is rated PG, so it isn't appropriate for children who are sensitive to violence. We wound up with Bella in my lap for the last half of the movie and my girl is pretty tough.
But while the movie wasn't as complex and nuanced as other Pixar films, it was a movie that spoke to my soul, a drink of cool water in an otherwise barren field. Consider the trailers leading up to the movie. We had Wreck-It Ralph, Finding Nemo 3D, Monster University, and La Luna (Pixar short) ... all stories built around male characters.
It's sad that Brave is the only movie in the studio's repertoire that features a strong female as the center of the story. Equally sad is that in some markets, the trailers also featured Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D. Is pop-star porn the best we can do for our girls?
For all the disappointments and unwelcome violence, Brave is still a movie that will land on our shelf at home. Bella does want her own bow and arrow. I am on the hunt for a Merida doll that is true to the movie and not a sexed-up knock-off. And we had an amazing hour and a half together at the theatre.
All this to say: Brave gets three thumbs up from the Miller girls. Let us know what you think about it!