Here at Behind the Thrills, we love us some Theme Parks. No doubt about it. However, there is a great big world out there, and sometimes we need to take a step out of the parks and look at something else. Join us as we take a look outside of the world of theme parks and into the world of movies, music, television, hotels…pretty much anything else we happen to stumble across.
However whatever we look at will have some relation to the theme park world, granted not directly…but in a round about sort of way.
So join us now as we lift up the harnesses, throw out our cup of Butterbeer and take a walk…Offsite.
This week’s Offsite Adventure: Disney Pixar’s Brave:
I have to admit something. I am not the biggest Pixar fan. I have never seen Ratatouille, the though of a rat touching my food…bleh. I couldn’t stand Wall-E…like Disney has any room to preach to anyone about the evils of commercialism and excess. And I just can’t stand the outlandishly stupid Cars. Cars 2 wasn’t so bad, I honestly liked it better than the first, but Cars was an abomination made solely to sell merchandise. But I absolutely love the other films. Pixar in general has made a habit of breaking molds, and doing things more beautifully than any other animation studio. On top of that they tell stories people want to hear, and they tell them well. So here we come to the latest in the Disney Pixar library. Brave.
Brave tells the story of Princess Merida who must choose one out of three eldest sons from one of the neighboring clans. The only problem is that this is a Disney movie, and the Princess never goes along with what is expected of her. Brave marks many firsts for Pixar. It’s the first film of theirs to be set in Scotland. It’s also the first time they’ve had a girl at the center of a story. Pixar films have always been male dominated movies, whether it be boys, cars, toys or bugs…the male has been the focus. It’s also the first time that Pixar has created a princess.
Traditionally Disney Princesses are the helpless “damsel in distress” type that makes a bad decision, or must overcome unbelievable odds. In recent times, The Disney princess has become a target. They’ve been accused of making young girls want to live up to a stereotype that paints them as a helpless, and weak child that needs a prince to come in and save them. Let’s face it, how many little girls have dreams of living in a castle and being married to a handsome prince. It’s a tad unrealistic.
The only thing that Brave has in common with any of the old school Disney princess movies is that it has a princess. Merida, however, isn’t your typical princess. There isn’t an evil stepmother, there isn’t a wicked queen, there isn’t some terrible curse plaguing the family. No, Merida is a typical teenage girl growing up in Scotland. Her father the king has raised her just as he would a boy, and has taught her to be free and self reliant. Her mother sees that there is an impending tradition and therefore has dedicated years to raising her to be the perfect lady. The trouble starts when her family tells Merida that she must marry one of the boys from one of the three neighboring clans that trouble starts. It’s tradition, and if it’s not followed, it would be seen as disrepectful, and would throw the four clans into war. So, not wanting to conform to what her mother wants her to do, Merida sets out to “change her fate”.
The movie is gorgeous, using warm colors and very realistic imagery to paint the backdrop. The music is amazing, and the film is your typical Pixar fare. It has the conflict, and it has a great pacing with the story. It even has a very powerful ending. But in this time of “anti-princess” programming, you end up really not liking Merida. Sure, she ends up being put with a great burden and is forced to face her problems, but her problems are the typical teenagers problems. Okay, so your typical teenager isn’t a princess of Scotland nor does she have to choose a husband, but it’s all about doing what your parents need you to do. In this case, the stubborn teen needs to choose a husband or her entire family and people will be forced into war!
I deal with a stubborn teen, and just as in the movie, you have to let them find their own way while guiding them along, hoping they do what’s needed. It’s touching, but the real victim of the movie is Merida’s mother. Of course it’s a story about stepping out of your respective roles as parent and child and learning that you’re both people, and as people you need to just talk to each other.
So is it good? Sure, it’s a great film, but it feels like it’s treading on territory too familiar to me. My sister put my mother through hell, still does, but regardless my mother loved her and just wanted the best for her to happen. But in the end, it’s her own path, despite what mom says. So it is with Brave. It’s not so much a fairy tale as much as it is a growing up tale. We want what’s best for our kids, who want things on their own terms…so we must compromise. Kind of a bitter lesson for a kids movie.
Still Brave will be number one at the box office. Oh, and this is the first time that you see bare ass (and bear ass) in a Pixar film also.