With “Cars 2” last year, Pixar created what should have been their first direct-to-dvd movie. “Brave” is not as bad but still enough reason to worry about the mouse houses most cherished production company.
Kelly Macdonald, of “Boardwalk Empire”, voices Merida, the young princess in the Scottish kingdom of DunBroch, who would rather be out being a tomboy than in training with her domineering mother (Emma Thompson) to be the next queen. What really unnerves her is the upcoming games, where the best of three doofuses from the surrounding clans battle it out for her hand in marriage. Merida can stand none, and so after a heated throw-down with mom, she runs off and encounters the cabin of a witch, who she coaxes into giving her a magic spell that will hopefully get mom off her back, but instead turns her into a bear. As the spell becomes ever more permanent, Merida must save mom from her hunter –father (Billy Connolly) and reverse it within two days.
This is one weirdly plotted movie that seems to be saying both “hey kids, mom can be a pain in the ass sometimes but at least she’s not, you know, a bear” and “ hey moms, when your kid puts a hex on you, that means you’re being too controlling, so stop it.” This could have been a heartfelt mother-daughter movie but the addition of this silly premise yields nothing except an unbelievable make-peace ending. And “Brave” has other problems, like not being much fun. We get quite a few speeches about the kingdom crumbling if people don’t stick together, a soundtrack filled with songs subbing in for where the drama of the story should be, and some sight gags, mostly mundane, about a bear acting like a woman. When the best laughs in a Pixar movie come from belching and bare-assed Scotsmen, something is wrong. At least the animation looks great; mountain-climbing, horse-riding, arrow-shooting, and sweeping shots of the forest all coming to life in 3-D. And the last act offers some nice bear- fighting thrills. But nothing can compensate for a story that continually goes downhill.