DISNEY AND PIXAR
“COME OUT” WITH BRAVE
By: Randy Leonhard, Fuerte Men Film Critic
In 1995, a marriage between Disney Studios and a new upstart named Pixar was formed. A kinship between these two studios brought us Toy Story, the first full computer animated feature. Through the years this partnership broke ground and box office records with hits like Finding Nemo and the two sequels to Toy Story. Their newest collaboration, Brave is again about to break ground being the first film from these two studios to feature a female protagonist. Oddly enough, it's a story of marriage, family, kinship and being true to who you are inside; never wavering to ones destiny. This may be touted as the first female lead in a Disney/Pixar film but I dare say their bravery goes further than that by having (maybe, just this reviewer's opinion and observations and not necessarily the intentions of Disney/Pixar) the first gay lead character.
Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is the future Queen of the kingdom, groomed heavily all her life for the job by her loving but strict and proper mother Elinor (Emma Thompson). Merida's tomboy antics amuse the jovial side of her Father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) even encouraged but her mother senses qualities in Merida that need to be quelled. Banished like the bear that takes her Father's leg in an opening sequence (beware, this and a few other scenes may frighten younger audience members) her mother is set in her ways to do the same to Merida's obstinate personality traits.
The film is rich in humor and suspense, taking on different tones from slap-stick to heavy drama in seamless transitions in a great script written by Mark Andrews (who also directs) and Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman and Irene Mecchi. Themes like be true to your heart, fate and a few nicely written songs all point to young Merida on the verge of an awakening of who she truly is - the first big screen lesbian hero in a cartoon.
Now, I'm not implying that because Merida has a strong will and makes and sticks to her desires automatically makes her a lesbian. Anyone though, male or female who is coming to or already has held fast to what they know to be true in their hearts, that they beat to a different drummer, watching Brave brings all the tell tell signs to light, hinting that Merida is on the verge of coming out. From details of how her character is drawn, literally, like the art student everyone knew in college who just had interests in boyish things and not boys in particular to how this roller coaster of a movie, brimming with excitement and humor, resolves itself, subtle hints are placed for a gay audience to realize that this film is breaking ground in ways a straight audience might not ever perceive.
Merida casts a spell on her Mother and the audience asking for change in how we accept and treat strong young girls like herself. Brave is a story, on the surface, of a girl battling for her freedom to be who she is, for her wants and needs to come to pass. Acceptance from her mother to love her and for whom she truly is inside and not what she'd wishes Merida to be.
This may be the most original and daring film yet for Disney and Pixar. Brave is a brilliant, well crafted, funny, and charming film that even has some genuinely frightening moments that may be too much for the very young. The true bravery goes to the filmmakers for bringing us this wonderful character of Merida, a great role model for girls of all ages and an inspiration for anyone, male or female wrestling with whom they truly are inside.
Thank you Disney and Pixar for this enchanting and enduring film for the ages. By making Merida have her qualities of being true too her convictions of self and the strength to endure the metaphorical battle of the bear that haunts her Kingdom, you have shown the world the true sense of the definition of Brave.
Rated PG for some scary action and rude humor.
Running time: 1:40 minutes.