Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Brave (Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman, 2012) -- B
Red-headed Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is one of Pixar's best creations - determined, scrappy, but young, she sees her place within her Scottish kingdom as inadequate: she deserves more. Her skill is archery (after The Hunger Games and Snow White and the Huntsman, no more please) and can out-sling any lad she's faced with. The problem is, her hubris as an archer conflates an understanding of her role within the society. She disobeys her parents, flees, makes a deal with a witch and, from there on, Brave engages its moral trial and error. Merida eventually learns the value in her parents words and that being a contrarian has its place - but when self-determination forcefully overrides communal output, you become an asshole.
Brave is likely Pixar's most conservative film. It views rebellion not as a virtue, in-and-of-itself, but in a given context, that rebellion must be tempered by an understanding of those outside the self. While it reaffirms hegemony and patriarchy, it is not ignorant of these affirmations - it addresses them rather thoroughly (and entertainingly) through character development and slapstick humor. And yet, many critics were displeased with Brave, seemingly because it affirmed a method, a value set even, not their own. Condemning the film for its ultimate conclusion, even though the duration convincingly arrives at these points, is amateur critical conduct.