Jim Reviews Brave

Brave

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I am convinced that Scotland exists to show the rest of the world how ugly it is. Have you ever been? It's Goddamn amazing. There are more shades of green in one acre of that country than in every box of crayons ever imagined. I never thought it was possible to make that country look more beautiful...

Then I saw "Brave."

Well done Pixar.

Before I say anything about the movie let me stress this: it is unrealistically gorgeous. Combining the amazing Celtic soundtrack with the amazing visuals based on the most beautiful country I have ever laid eyes on makes Pandora look like a pile of puke.

With "Brave" Pixar goes in a new and interesting direction, and in the process continues their streak of movies that range from good to great. This is a great film.

Right off the bat I will tell you that it is different from most Pixar films. The structure that dictates all of their other films is tweaked a bit.

What I mean by this is that every Pixar film up to this point has followed the same basic structure. It's so ingrained in their narrative style that you can almost tell to the minute how far you are into one of their films by what is happening on screen. This isn't a bad thing, quite the contrary. Solid narrative structure is very difficult to master, and the people at Pixar have done that.

"Brave," however, follows a more... fairy tale structure. Which is slightly different, but just as effective.

The movie is about Merida, the free spirited daughter of a Scottish King who is determined to defy tradition and live her life the way she wants to.

This is a landmark for Pixar in many ways. First it is the first film that features a female protagonist. About damned time. And by "female protagonist" I don't mean a male character they gave a female name, but an actual, realized, believable female character. She is also the first Pixar character to be included as one of the "Disney Princesses," which is great, because she is a bad ass and it does my heart well to see Disney embracing such a strong female character. It's also Pixar's first period piece, and here is hoping that it won't be their last.

Another thing this movie actually got right was it cast actual Scottish people as Scottish people. Billy Connolly is in it, because there is a binding UN resolution that requires him to be in any movie about Scotland, or there bloody well should be, Craig Ferguson, Kevin McKidd (Trainspotting), and Robbie Coltraine (no, he is not English, he is Scottish).

But the best casting had to be Kelly MacDonald. You may know her from "Trainspotting," or "Boardwalk Empire," but she is an actual, for real Scottish lady. She is absolutely brilliant as Merida. Originally the part was to be played by Reese Witherspoon, so at the minimum MacDonald saved us from an hour and a half of Witherspoon approximating a Scottish accent. Not that she isn't a fine actress, but who wants that?

MacDonald gives Merida a vitality and a playfulness that offsets the more serious scenes brilliantly. Hopefully we will be seeing more of her.

What is nice about this movie is that it is a mother/daughter story, which is so very rare these days. We are sick with mother/son, father/son, father/daughter movies that it almost feels like Hollywood forgets about this relationship. It's a very touching and heartfelt narrative that I think all mothers should see with their daughters.

Be warned, this is a little different than the Pixar you are use to, but that's not a bad thing. This is one of those amazing times when a company goes for something new, fresh, and original and succeeds brilliantly.

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