Not so much, sorry to say.

My husband and I choked back the bile that leaps into the throats of the middle class when the person behind the glass at the movie theater says, “That will be $50, please,” and took our girls to go see Brave this afternoon.

I couldn’t resist the previews — that mane of wild red hair, the bow & arrow, the dramatic, swooshing cloak.  A kids’ Katniss Everdeen, perhaps?  I was probably more excited than my daughters.

The movie did offer a couple of notable departures from the traditional Disney story format, but sadly, too many action-for-action’s sake sequences and plot shortcuts made this latest Pixar flick somewhat saggy and draggy.

We first meet the heroine, Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald, a Scottish actress who might be familiar to Harry Potter fans as the Grey Lady from HP7  Pt. 2) when she is but a wee lass, a princess on an outing for her birthday.  She receives a bow and arrow from her father just before the royal family is attacked by a ferocious bear.  Merida’s mother, Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson), whisks the child away on horseback while the king fights the great beast.

When we next see Merida, she has grown up to be a sassy, willful teenager.  Merida infuriates her mother when she publicly challenges the royal tradition of the local clan lords presenting their first born sons to compete for the princess’ hand in marriage.

During the ensuing fight with her mother, Merida tears a tapestry depicting the royal family and runs away into the woods.  There, she meets a witch who gives her a spell to change her mother, and then the adventure begins.

The rest of the movie explores the broken mother-daughter bond and what must be done to repair it.  I had expected the mother to die in the usual Disney fashion during the bear attack in the opening scene, but instead, the movie breaks new ground by having Elinor live to become the mother of an ungrateful, feisty adolescent.  Refreshing, for Disney anyway.

The movie’s most poignant scenes were of the two main characters trying to reconnect under great duress.  Without giving too much away, my favorite moment was when Merida has to interpret her mother’s non-verbal communication during a tense moment back in the castle.

But these moments were minimized by unnecessarily long scenes of bear chasing, bear fighting, dudes fighting and the kind of Disney clowning and pandemonium that starts to feel condescending after awhile.

My 8-year-old daughters didn’t like the bears and fighting and found those scenes scary.  They weren’t so scared that they had to leave the theater, but the scenes were upsetting enough to distract them from the film’s deeper meaning and from their appreciation of Merida as a gutsy heroine.

Visually, there were many beautiful and artistic moments.  The luminous blue Will-o’-the-wisps that lead Merida through the forest are very fetching, as are a number of the matte illustrations of Scottish landscapes.

The poster above is an example of the look of the moodier scenes, aptly accompanied throughout by Patrick Doyle’s pretty score that includes songs by Mumford & Sons and Scottish singer Julie Fowlis.

If I don’t have to comfort my daughters from bear nightmares tonight, then I just might bring up the movie with them tomorrow to discuss the journey of Merida and her mother.

You had me at the chocolate

by Diana on February 14, 2012 · 0 comments

in Musings

I confess it: I love Valentine’s Day.  I love the red outfits people wear, Valentine socks, Valentine cookies, vintage Valentines, making Valentines, corny Valentine jewelry, all of it.  It’s all an excuse to say, “I love you” to folks you care about, and I don’t see a problem with that.

And I loved Google’s Doodle today:

I always laugh to myself when people say that Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday.  It’s only a Hallmark holiday if you buy Hallmark cards, people.

Me?  I made each of my daughters the heart pop-up card on this Robert Sabuda page (they were duly impressed and said that I should consider entering the talent show at their school because of my pop-up card making talent), and I got them each a pair of neon canvas sneakers from Target.  They were thrilled when they saw those too, and I felt very Valentiney as I drove to work wearing a big pink scarf, thinking of my girls in those day-glo kicks.  Cutie pies.

The only thing missing was my hubs, who is finishing up the last leg of a week-long series of back-to-back engagements in California to promote his book and his artwork.  He and I usually find heart-shaped Valentine cookies to share, and that’s about all we do for Valentine’s Day.  No Hallmark cards, no flowers, nothing elaborate.  No expectations.  Simple and sweet.

The week without him wasn’t too bad except for missing him, but I did have a really bad day over the weekend when my daughters wouldn’t stop fighting.  They had friends over, and even that didn’t stop them from being at each other’s throats, no matter what I said or did to try to get the day back on course.  Definitely not cutie pie behavior.

The mom of one of my daughters’ friends came to pick up her daughter and must have seen my sadness.  She comforted me by telling me that her kids fight too, and I did feel better.  Until my girls started fighting again.  It was a long day.

Then, today, when I came home, I saw a little package between my door and the screen door.  I opened it and was delighted.  Inside, I found a card from the mom who had seen my frustration over the weekend.  Under the card, in a poofy cloud of tissue paper, there was a little box of chocolates that said “Enjoy” on the lid.  The card offered kind words and a directive to enjoy the chocolates myself.  So I did.

Really, what’s not to love about Valentine’s Day?

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