Brave: A Review

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!


  • Cheryl

    I'm so excited to see this movie! I agree that we need more female heroines and fewer female "sex kittens" for the next generation to look up to. LOVE that pic of Bella. Have a great weekend!

  • Yo-yo Mama

    Both my 10 year old son and almost 4 year old girl enjoyed the movie. Yes, the bear scenes were intense and it sent my daughter to my lap, but unless we had to deal with day-to-day bear encounters, I'm sure she'll not have any ill-affects from the exposure.

    In fact, the only question I had difficulty answering after the movie was, "Why did the baby brothers wear dresses?" How do you explain Scottish traditional kilts to an American pre-schooler??

  • Kelly Miller

    Ah - you're lucky to not have a child who has nightmares. A good friend of ours took her child, who's just a few months younger than Bella, and she both cried during the movie and then has woken up each night with dreams about bears trying to eat her. That's where my note of caution comes from.

  • Dan O.

    Totally disappointing considering it's from Pixar, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. It's just not anything special especially when you put it against everything else that Pixar has been putting out for the past decade, except for last year with Cars 2. That can be forgotten. Good review.

  • Kelly Miller

    Dan - Can you explain what's so groundbreaking about Cars and Toy Story? I've heard that said before. I can see the animation in Toy Story was definitely worth that title, but what else was so wonderful?

  • HynesMom

    I'm obviously a little behind the times in following blogs this summer. Dylan (age 10) and I also saw Brave and he loved it. I loved that it didn't phase him one bit that he was identifying with a female lead. He loves archery and has an archery set so he was gung ho on that point. The intensity got to him, too. Even at 10, he ended up in my lap, too. (Don't tell him I told you.) The story was good and I enjoyed the characters, especially the part that she didn't end up paired with someone in the end. She was allowed to be her own person.

    As to the Pixar special magic, I heard that Merida's hair was a feat of magic for the animators. They designed all new software to be able to showcase her hair - strand by strand. This was all new and supposedly broke new ground. So far from resting on their laurels, Pixar yet again stood out from the rest.

  • Moore Minutes

    Excellent review! I've been wanting to see that movie. I hope you're well Kelly!! I really miss you girl. ;)

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