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Brave mini-review
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So I saw the new Pixar movie, Brave, this weekend. It was good -- the plot was more interesting than I was expecting from the trailers, and it is of course entirely gorgeous.

It was a little more serious than other Pixar movies (first 10 minutes of Up excepted[1]), as the plot is actually about an emotional relationship, with action being kind of incidental to / growing out of that, as opposed to the usual mostly-action with some incidental emotional development. Right at the end, there's a giant emotional climax, followed by comic-relief-denouement-with-song-montage-quick-wrap-up-the-rest-of-the-plot-more-comic-relief-and-a-little-comic-relief-on-top-roll-credits! in about 5 minutes and I'm still sitting there going Wait, wait, I am experiencing an emotion here, hang on, hang on, I'm not done.

I have some statistical complaints about gender in kids' movies, but really this one didn't do anything wrong so I will set those aside for the duration of this post. I was a bit disappointed at it for not properly addressing some of the political questions it brought up at the beginning, but I suppose it's not really meant to be The Prize in the Game[2] and there is a limit to exactly how depressingly realistic you want your kids' movie to get about petty kingdom politics.

In the way that it initially appears to be a particular sort of growing-up story and then turns out to not be that sort of story actually, it reminds me a bit of Labyrinth[3]. I may have to think about that comparison a little more, but there are some interesting parallels.


[1] ***SADNESS WARNING*** Googling quickly to see whether first 10 minutes or first 20 minutes was most accurate (I'm not sure, people seem to be using them interchangeably), I ran across a news story about a little girl with cancer who really wanted to see Up as it was coming out, but was too ill to be moved to a theater. So a Pixar employee flew down to her house with a DVD, and she got to see it about seven hours before she died. Thank you, Google, I really needed that right now. Did I mention where pregnancy hormones have been making child peril a Thing, with the crying and the weeping and the blowing of the nose?

[2] By Jo Walton! It's a good read.

[3] The Jim Henson movie. Also good.
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Now I wonder what you were expecting Labyrinth to be - which means that I think I need to find the trailer.

Labyrinth's old enough that I don't think I ever saw a trailer for it. But at the beginning of the movie, even most of the way through, it appears to be a coming-of-age story -- here is the attractive, sensual power, here are the trials you must overcome, here is this whole bit with the junk-lady about abandoning the trappings of childhood that are holding you back -- but it really turns out to be a not coming of age story. Sara doesn't take any more responsibility for her little brother than she started out with, she gets back home just before her parents arrive, everything is back to comfortable normal. She's learned some stuff, and she'll be better prepared for adulthood when it's time, but one of the things she learns is that it's not time yet, she doesn't have to take on adult responsibilities, and she has more being a kid to do.

And that aspect of the movie is actually a fair bit like (part of) the emotional arc in Brave; it's more the mother learning this than the daughter, and it's not the main point the way it is in Labyrinth, but there's a very similar progression of expectation. Starting out it looks like a coming-of-age movie where Merida's going to learn to grow up and take her place in the world, probably in some way slightly different from what her mother's been planning, but then what actually happens is basically that her coming of age gets put off for a few more years. It's not as satisfying a resolution as it is in Labyrinth, possibly because of the pacing issue and possibly because the resolution and the setup don't quite match, but not-growing-up (in a positive, time-limited way, rather than a creepy Peter Pan / denial / immaturity way) is not a story I see often so the resonance was interesting.

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