Anything with Billy Connolly in it is going to have you in stitches (I Want to Believe being an exception) and this is true of the acclaimed animation, Brave.
The story focuses around fiery redhead Merida, an adolescent princess-to-be who’s queenly mother, Queen Elinor, insists she act like a princess when all Merida wants to do is ride horses and perform archery. Connolly plays her father, King Fergus, a hopeless but well-meaning man who provides many of the film’s laughs, along with Merida’s three mischievous brothers. When several lords compete for Merida’s hand in marriage, Merida shows them up, which angers Queen Elinor. After a fight with her mother, Merida flees into the woods where she encounters a witch, who casts a spell to help Merida deal with her mother. Unfortunately, this turns the queen into a bear, bizarre concept that this is, which leads to all sort of hilarity, predicaments, and the formation of a bond between mother and daughter.
As with most Pixar films, the 3D animation is wonderful to behold, presented in an exaggerated doll-like style that gives each of the characters more personality. The voice acting is spot on and while the story takes a while to get going, you won’t care because it’s so funny getting to know these quirky, yet relatable, protagonists.
Of importance, Merida breaks the stereotypical female gender role by refusing to succumb to the good princess role and rejects submitting to the patriarchal tradition of being married off. Moreover, many times she proves herself not only more than a match for her male suitors, but also capable of fending for herself and making her own decisions. In this way, Merida is a fantastic role model for young girls.
At times hilarious and at other times touching, Brave is a wonderful coming-of-age story suitable for all ages, drawing young audiences into the rollicking adventure and older audiences into the hilarious yet familiar predicament of growing up and dealing with adolescents. I recommend it.