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Crazy Red Hair and Shallow Characterization

>> Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Have you seen the new Disney/Pixar film "Brave" yet?

Our all-things-Scottish-loving brood took in the movie on opening weekend, armed with Skittles and chocolate, buttery popcorn and soft drinks. And although I've seen better Pixar films (hello, any of the Toy Story series), we went home entertained and eager to replay various scenes to others.

"Feast yourrrrrr eyes!!!!" was a family favourite.

Brave has a fairly decent cast of characters:

  • Merida - moody female teenage lead with crazy red hair (how does she look so stunning with that wildness? Mine often has the same amount of body, but none of that beauty...meh.) - voiced beautifully by Kelly Macdonald
  • King Fergus - furry, fun father with one leg and a thirst for bear hunting - voiced by the always fantastic Billy Connolly
  • Queen Elinor - uptight mother with high expectations and tight control on the entire household - voiced rather well by Emma Thompson. I only caught her clipped English every so often, and I was looking for it.
  • three adorable young triplets - no voices, but who could forget that mischievous charm? And one is named HAMISH. Nuff said.
  • hilarious Witch (or is it wood carver?!?!) who needed more screen time - voiced by Julie Walters/Molly Weasley (yay!)
  • an array of male characters displaying various humourous traits - voiced by Craig Ferguson (Macintosh), Kevin McKidd (MacGuffin) and Robbie Coltrane/Hagrid (Dingwall... and, yay!)

Plotline

The basic premise pits free-spirit Merida against tight-laced Elinor. Although other viewers have balked at the rebellious teenager angle, I totally appreciate the lesson. Love others as they are, not as you want them to be.

When both Merida and Elinor begin to realize the torn bond is within their hearts, instead of within the tapestry, true Disney magic sparkles. The love between a mother and daughter is sacred and often volatile. This story gives families hope, and may help moms and their kids to see that appreciation is vital.

As are killer Mama Bear instincts and a sharp archer's eye.

Music

I must have this soundtrack. Must.

Naughty Stuff

Brave displays some attitude, but I don't remember hearing a single curse word or seeing any sexual innuendo. And that's pretty rare in kid's movies today.

The violence is subdued, and Mord'hu is nowhere as scary as I thought he would be. We read the book to my four-year-old daughter before watching the flick, and she was anticipating the monster bear's appearance by gnawing on her fingernails. In the end those scenes were quite well balanced between spooky and veiled.

The triplets get into heaps of trouble, but nothing shocking. And Elinor and Fergus display a loving, fairly honest marriage between two rather different people.

Scenery

The animation is wonderful, but I maintain that no images - animated, photographic or otherwise - can capture the absolutely striking beauty of Scotland.

So there.



Shallow Characters

My one major beef with this movie was the lack of character development. As one friend mentioned, Merida seemed flat.

The film opens with the conflict between Merida and Elinor, but gives us little of the lead's guts beforehand. What happened to the musical number where we begin to "get" the main character? Think When Somebody Loves You with Jessie in TS2, or Part of Your World in Little Mermaid.

It's hard to feel sympathetic toward Merida without any glimpses inside. Especially when she starts whining.

Character development is only needed for the two ladies. Everyone else is eye candy. So why couldn't the writers fit that in? It would have added a few scenes to an otherwise short flick - no biggie, right?

The Princess Club


Disney is marketing Merida as an official "Princess." Whilst I grind my teeth at her inclusion in that clique, the lack of characterization makes more sense. We knew little about Snow White, except that she was a bit flaky. Cinderella was slightly two-dimensional, although her hard life drew in support naturally. And let's face it, Sleeping Beauty was dozing throughout her starring role.

The other "Princess" girls almost make up for it. Ariel had the hair and the voice, and we really tasted her turmoil when dealing with King Tritan. Jasmine rocked the Sultan's boat and nabbed her peasant. And well, Belle is my ultimate heroine. A book loving, horse riding, adventurer that tames a beast? Yah huh.

Merida's lack of depth tips the scale in the Princess Club. Disney will need to create another conflicted, headstrong-with-a-heart-of-gold-and-brains-to-match heroine to even the score.

Don't know about you, but I'll be eagerly awaiting that movie.

Cheers to Wild Hair,



3 comments:

Sherry Castelluccio July 19, 2012 at 10:13 PM  

I took my daughter to see this movie and we liked it. When I tried to describe it to a guy at church I said it's Freaky Friday meets Braveheart. Great story with a great message. A side note- I think you have beautiful hair :)

Heather Day Gilbert August 3, 2012 at 6:49 AM  

Hi Di! Thanks for stopping by my blog today, and it was cool to find yours. BTW--love your red hair! My hubby has red hair and I definitely work some redheads into my novels (Viking times). Glad to know someone else is writing in the "darker" age time period! I haven't seen Brave yet, but I have been wondering about it. Thanks for your post!

Kathy Pettit August 4, 2012 at 5:56 AM  

Hands down - favourite Princess (or anti-princess)! Good breakdown...and bring on the wild hair!!

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