Review: ‘Brave’ illustrates my problem with Pixar
Pixar’s newest movie, Brave, is about a princess who turns her mother into a bear. I have a problem with Pixar, and in reviewing Brave, I would like to get up on a soapbox for a bit and explain that problem.
Many people really like Pixar movies, and think they are the best thing to happen to animation since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but I still have my problem.
That said, Brave deserves to be judged on its merits as a movie first, an animated movie second, and as a Pixar movie last of all.
The movie itself
The story of Brave is so predictable, I predicted it. This despite the fact that Pixar went out of its way to avoid giving away what the movie was about. Essentially, it is a remake of every Disney princess movie ever, except with Brother Bear’s plot twist. Pixar apparently thought we would forget there had already been an admittedly forgettable movie about bear transformations this century. Joke’s on you, Pixar. This is a furry site. Remembering forgettable anthropomorphic animal movies is what we do.
There is a princess, Merida (Kelly Macdonald), and she does not want to marry her suitors, and cannot convince her overbearing (get it? Get it?) mother (Emma Thompson) to let her shoot arrows her entire life. Shooting arrows is kind of her thing, you see. Eventually, she meets a witch with a bear fetish (Julie Walters), who agrees to cast a spell on her mother that will change her. Merida thinks change her mind about the marriage thing, but the witch has that bear fetish, so that does not go as planned.
Unfortunately for mother and daughter, father (Billy Connolly) also has a bear fetish, though only for killing them. This is a kid’s movie, after all. Also, though the queen bear is usually intelligent, she occasionally lapses into full on bear mode, though this only happens twice; once to prove it can happen, and once to needlessly extend the third act. The pair discover that they have two days to change mom back; you will have to watch the movie to see if the two reconcile their differences and team together to break the curse. That, or just guess. Good guess.
There are also three mute younger brothers who are caught in the magical crossfire and turned into bears. They are the best part of the movie, because they actually act like cartoon characters. There is a pretty funny bit where they use shadow puppets to herd the grownups outdoors. At one point, one dives headfirst into a lady’s cleavage.
Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be the feminist Pixar movie?
My problem with Pixar
My final thought on Brave is that it, like most Pixar movies, could use a bit more animation. Let me explain.
I have never bought into the Pixar perfection. They make movies like, well, cars on an assembly line. It doesn’t matter who is in the director’s chair. A Pixar movie is a Pixar movie. And I have always found Pixar movies very sterile.
Studio head John Lasseter has gone on record saying he does not like “quirkiness,” which is to me the problem. You make cartoons, man! Cartoons are a pile of quirks brought to life. When you forget that, you make really weird art films about rats, robots and balloons and forgettable movies about princesses and bears, instead of great cartoons.
In short, Pixar is boring. That is my problem with them.