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Once upon a time there was a princess who was a tomboy. She never got to do what her three younger ginger-haired brothers did, nor did she get the same attention. Why? Because she was a girl in olden times, and she had to do what princesses did. But Merida (voiced by Kelly McDonald) would have none of that, even to the point of putting her mother, the Queen (Emma Thompson), into danger. In addition to having a head full of flaming red hair, Merida was as stubborn as her mother was beautiful and her father (Billy Connolly) was brave.
Things come to a head when Merida’s parents decide it’s time for her to be betrothed. The other three clans of the kingdom send their royally first-born as prospects. Of course, Merida finds fault with one and all. And well she should; they are oafs of the worst sort — which, lucky for us, makes for some funny exchanges. In the course of finding some method to avoid marriage, Merida is led by will-o-the-wisps to a witch’s cottage. From there the comedy is piled one guffaw upon another as things go decidedly awry.
There are numerous fights in “Brave” as clans beat upon each other with obvious glee without incurring much bodily harm. Then there are the bear fights, which appeared to disturb some of the children in the audience. The storyline is convoluted, which confuses the audience occasionally. Of course, Pixar is going to have all the scenery and characterizations exactly right to pull us back to the time of the early Vikings in Scotland. We can depend upon any number of funny characters such as the brothers or a talking crow to entertain us while the humdrum of the necessary story is explained to us.
“Brave” has a pronounced moral that emphasizes that we each must take responsibility for whatever we start. In this world of magic, folk tales and music, Merida becomes another of Disney’s remarkable princesses who discovers who she is and what she must do. It’s a pleasant experience.
Family Rating: PG for scary action and rude humor.
Also featuring Kevin McKidd, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson, John Ratzenberger and a musical score composed by Patrick Doyle. Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell. Doyle fills the action with music redolent with Scottish reels and Celtic charm. (1hr., 40 min.)
Also opening: ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER. [Unpreviewed] Things you didn’t know about our nation’s favorite president.
Family Rating: Rated R for violence throughout and brief sexuality. Kids won’t understand the spoofing.