Anita Casey-Reed
 
 
    
 
This film image released by Disney/Pixar shows the character Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, in a scene from "Brave." (AP Photo/Disney/Pixar)
 
 

 
(AP Photo/Disney/Pixar)
 
 

 
(AP Photo/Disney/Pixar)
 
 

 
(AP Photo/Disney/Pixar)
 
 

My mother is one of the smartest women I have ever known, and we love each other dearly. That did not prevent us from driving each other completely bonkers at many points in our lives together. My five-year-old daughter is one of the smartest soon-to-be women I have ever known, and we love each other dearly. That does not prevent us both from driving each other nuts on an almost daily basis.

So I immediately felt a sense of understanding and connection with both of the lead characters in "Brave", the Academy Award-winning animated film by Disney-Pixar. Many adults have a certain aversion to seeing cartoons, but try to set that bias aside and give this original story a chance.

"Brave" is the story of the tomboyish Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), a ginger-haired archer who spends her days galloping around the kingdom. She adores her warrior father and her mischievous younger brothers and is exasperated by the efforts of Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) to ready her for the responsibilities of marriage and running the kingdom. When the sons of the local nobles gather to compete for Merida's hand, she flees to the forest. There she meets a witch who promises a potion that will change the mother's mind and solve the daughter's problem forever. Of course, that is when Merida's problems really begin.

The movie works on a number of levels. The visuals are a lovingly-detailed and lush evocation of a wild and mysterious Scottish landscape. The kilt-wearing King Fergus (Billy Connolly), his nobles and all of their sons provide slapstick antics and very mildly inappropriate humor to keep the laughs rolling. Merida's quest to set things right is action-packed with several scares that are much more manageable (for the youngest viewers) on a home screen compared to a theater screen. Yet the story depends most of all on the bond between Elinor and Merida. Both the princess and the queen get it right sometimes and get it wrong sometimes, and it is only when they work together that they can accomplish anything. They are the reason why we care if the spell can be broken, the kingdom saved and the family restored.

Too often filmmakers, in both animated and live-action movies aimed at a younger audience, think making the story "for parents too" consists of tossing in a few pop culture references, double entendres and twenty-year-old songs for the soundtrack. Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews do not make that mistake with "Brave." They concentrate on having intelligent and recognizable characters in a story that uses the tropes of a fairytale to say something about what happens in the moment when mothers and daughters both begin to see each other not as mother or daughter any more, but as two people who are very different, but love each other very much.

Anita Casey-Reed is a member of the Cinema 100 Film Society and co-hosts "Reel Retro" on Dakota Media Access. She lives in Bismarck with her husband and two children.



 
Anita Casey-Reed is a member of the Cinema 100 Film Society and a volunteer for the Dakota Digital Film Festival. She lives in Bismarck with her husband and two children.