Brave offers a bold new world for Disney princesses

Usually, the Disney princess movie is pretty typical: a young pretty princess meets a handsome guy who has to rescue her from some evil monster and then they hook up and live happily ever after. Up until recently, this is all we’ve seen from most Disney films. But with more independent-minded princesses like Tiana from The Princess and the Frog and Merida, Disney’s newest princess, from Brave, we’re seeing a change of attitude coming out of the studio.

And of all the princesses, Merida is officially now my favorite. She’s showing young girls that it’s okay to go seek your own fate, but don’t step on people while you do it (as there will be consequences). She shows us that being a tomboy is okay because if that’s who you are, then that’s who you should be. She teaches us that if a girl wants to be saved by a handsome man, she’ll choose which man it will be, but more than likely, she’ll just save herself.

In fact, Merida is Disney’s first self-rescuing princess. Fortunately, in this movie, the only real villain Merida has to face is her mother (and this is how most teenaged girls actually see their own mothers). Merida’s mother, Elinor, is every bit as bossy and demanding as I remember my own mother was when I was the princess’ age. And Elinor is determined to make Merida the perfect princess, although Merida hardly fits into the mold (and has no desire to fit into anything). Of course, this all comes to a head when Merida’s mother insists that she become betrothed. Merida will have none of it and fights for her right not to marry, running off and inadvertently casting a curse on her mother.

At its heart, this is a movie about the very complex relationship between mothers and daughters. It is also about the love that in SPITE of that complexity still exists between the two.

I took my mother to see this film. Her first comment was along the lines of  “I’m not sure why you took me to a movie about a stubborn red-headed teenager. I’ve lived that.” How could I not laugh? I have to admit, the film really hit a heart string with both of us and pretty much sums up our own mother-daughter relationship, even now.

Leave it to Disney to teach us life lessons while making us laugh and cry, right? And this movie does run through the gamut of emotions that you would expect from a Disney creation. It has everything to do with the simply gorgeous animation and the brilliant voice acting. At times, I forgot that this was an animated film because it all looked and felt so real.

However, I have heard horrible things about the 3D version of the movie. I intentionally skipped that, as I always do. But the reviews for the 3D are so bad that many have claimed it ruins a beautiful film. Will Hollywood never learn? 3D IS NOT NEEDED. Just UGH! I feel like a broken record here.

Okay, wait, where was I? Yes, I was telling all of you women to grab your mothers and go see this movie.

I have seen other critics complain about two things in this film. The first is that there is not an evil villain (well, there is, but he’s a very small part of the story). I would like to remind them that they’ve apparently missed the point. I’m guessing this is because this is a Disney film and there usually is a villain. But again, this is not that story. It’s refreshingly different and has much more depth than that.

The second complaint I’ve seen from several critics is that there is no love interest for Merida, even at the end of the film. In fact, Pixar took some heat in making this movie so different from the usual Disney fare. For the record, I would like to point out that the year is 2012, not 1952. Again, apparently, those critics missed the point. This is not that story either.

Brave’s Merida is the first Disney princess I have ever truly related to (right down to the red hair, although I envy how her curls fall in messy waves around her shoulders – why didn’t mine ever do that?). I think she’s one of the best role models that Disney has ever provided us. I hope this trend continues in future productions.

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