Princess movies have too much kissing.
If you’re a 9-year-old girl who cares about things that are real — like fairies — you don’t care about frivolous and icky things like kissing, it’s just embarrassing. When watching a movie you care about important things like interesting characters, funny things happening, and good triumphing in the end.
When I asked my kids if they thought Brave was your typical Disney Princess movie, the answer was a resounding no. My daughter didn’t think that The Princess and the Frog was a typical princess movie either, “because she’s not a princess until the end” but still — too much kissing.
Brave, however, that was awesome! Not only did the princess not want a prince (I don’t think I’m giving too much away since the trailer makes it pretty clear she’s not interested in marriage and/or kissing) but she’s a wild red-headed woman who rides her horse through the forest and is really good at archery. Throw in the fairy-like will o’ the wisps and what’s not to love?
Even though this is a story about a mother and daughter learning to respect and appreciate each other there’s plenty here to keep the boys engaged as well. The male characters, while only a sideshow to the main story, are a very entertaining sideshow. When I asked my son about his favorite parts there were plenty of hijinks for him to reference.
The reviews for Brave, while generally favorable, have been a mixed bag, and now that I’ve seen it for myself I think they’re giving it a bit of a raw deal. Of course, it has a tremendous legacy to live up to, there are few bodies of work more respected than Pixar’s groundbreaking run of hits.
Regardless of how you compare it to other Pixar movies, I think anyone would have to admit that the movie’s quality is head and shoulders above a lot of other kid movies, and within the princess genre its strong female protagonist is battling not against the traditional romantic story arc and winning a prince in the end but following a much more compelling struggle to understand her mother and not only win respect but grow up in the process. It’s well done and very entertaining. So what if it’s not my favorite Pixar movie? I think it’s really good.
In the interest of full disclosure, our family has a strong Scottish bias. My wife, Merran, was born in Inverness, we have family over there, the kids have been to Scotland several times, and Merran’s parents spend summers at their house in Dingwall, which is coincidentally the name of one of the clans seeking our heroine’s hand in marriage. So, yes, we perhaps have more reason than most to enjoy what Brave has to offer — but looking at it objectively, we think everyone, boys included, will enjoy it.
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John Kubalak is a writer, teacher, volunteer coordinator, raconteur, and scalawag. He does not publish science fiction under the pseudonym Jonathan Black but he does publish a monograph on fatherhood, The Eclectic Dad. He has a son, a daughter, a beautiful wife (and a little dog too!) who are adorable, maddening, zany, and brilliant all at the same time.