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I must confess that I feel rather perplexed by Brave. It didn’t seem very Pixar-ish to me, and I’m pretty sure that has nothing at all to do with the fact that Brave is the first Pixar film with a female lead. I enjoyed Brave, thought it was a sweet story about a mother/daughter relationship, and found it to be very watchable. It’s beautiful to look at, the art direction is simply stunning. It has great music. And Merida, the heroine, surely has some of the best hair you will ever see in film, animated or otherwise.

And yet, as I left the theatre I couldn’t help but feel something was missing from the film, a little spark of magic maybe? I didn’t love Brave the way I usually do with Pixar films and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure why.

Brave (original title "The Bear and the Bow") at its essence, is a cautionary tale of “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.” Merida, the central character (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is a head-strong, tomboy-ish princess who yearns to be freed from the things a princess must do, the things her mother Elinor (Emma Thompson) is determined she learn. Merida, like most teenagers, thinks her mother has some pretty stupid ideas and rules. She doesn’t want to learn the lady-like arts of embroidery and mastering musical instruments, she wants to ride her horse through the countryside and shoot arrows.

What Elinor wants is for Merida to marry and of course, Merida has other ideas. All of which makes Elinor mad, which in turn makes Merida mad. And so it goes, with neither one being able to please the other. When Merida shows up at an archery/betrothal contest to try and best her suitors to win her own hand and thus circumventing her mother’s plans to marry her off, Elinor really gets mad. And humiliated. And then the two have words.

At that point Elinor and Merida are mad, mad, mad, at each other. Merida in a angry, petulant, fit, hops on her horse and takes off into the forrest. She fumes about wanting to change her destiny, spots some will-o'-the-wisp and ... To tell you any more would be too much of a plot spoiler so we’ll leave it at that.

I would also caution you to stay far, far, away from the toy store till after you’ve seen the film. Whatever you do, do not look at the Brave toys if you wish to remain spoiler-free. I can tell you Brave has plenty of action so it’s not all about the mother and daughter relationship and probably every family member will find something of interest in the film. In some ways though, the plot seems like it’s been done before ... but then again, I have to applaud Pixar for not sending in the knight in shining armor to save the day. Merida can do that for herself, thank you very much.

If you choose to see Brave at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, you will also be treated to a live stage show before the film begins. It features your favorite Disney characters singing and dancing their hearts out and seemed to really please the kiddies in the audience I sat in. And yes, along with our favorite mice, Mickey and Minnie (who look quite stylish in Scottish attire), Merida also makes an appearance.

Attached to Brave is the Academy Award-nominated short "La Luna," directed by Enrico Casarosa (still, above). It has all the charm and magic that we've seen in the past from Pixar. Quite a contrast to the feature film it's a companion to.

Next door at the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store you’ll find an array of Brave merchandise (which I’d love to detail for you but I’m afraid it almost all falls under the plot-spoiler category) and you can treat yourself to a Brave Sundae (crumbled shortbread, strawberry cheesecake ice cream, strawberry syrup, creamy marshmallow, and whipped cream topped with a cherry).

Digitally projected in 3D with Dolby "Atmos" sound, Brave runs at the El Capitan June 22nd through August 12th.

Show times (subject to change, of course) are:

10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, and 9:50pm

General Admission Prices are:

Adult $16 ($14 before 6pm) | Child (3-11) & Senior (60+) $13 | Group (20+) $13

VIP Admission (includes popcorn, soft drink, reserved seat and no waiting in line):


Breakfast with Merida is offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 8:00 AM with a 10:00 AM screening of the film. Adult Breakfast is $41, Child/Senior is $38, and VIP is $51.

Tickets may be purchased at the theater, via phone at 1-800-DISNEY6 (1-800-347-6396) or online at www.elcapitantickets.com with a service fee added for the latter two methods. (Groups of twenty or more may purchase specially discounted tickets in advance, but this may only be done by calling 1-818-845-3110 as these tickets are not available at the box office.) Birthday parties are also welcomed at the same phone number.

The El Capitan Theater is located in Hollywood California at 6838 Hollywood Boulevard. Theater lobby-validated $2 (first four hours only) parking is available underground in the Hollywood & Highland complex (adjacent to the Chinese Theater) across the street.

Brave is rated PG by the MPAA for some scary action and rude humor. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes.


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FTC-Mandated Disclosure: As of December 2009, bloggers are required by the Federal Trade Commission to disclose payments and freebies. Sue Kruse and Al Lutz did receive complimentary admission for this screening.

© 2012 Sue Kruse