Be Brave and See It

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My boys and Merida strike a pose at Disney California Adventure (she’s usually in Disneyland, but she made a special appearance for Cars Land Media Day).

Pixar took some lumps after Cars 2 was released. There were more than a few people that believed that it was not up to Pixar’s standards. I was one of them (all is forgiven thanks to Cars Land!). Don’t worry, Brave (and La Luna) has Pixar back on the pedestal where it belongs.

Brave is set in Scotland, and it follows the contention between Princess Merida and her mother, Queen Elinor, over the fate of the former — and it wasn’t something pulled from a previously existing fairy tale, but rather the real experience of story creator Brenda Chapman (except she isn’t Scottish royalty). According to Brave Director Mark Andrews (pictured below), “Brenda Chapman came up with the storyline and the characters, and it came out of her being a parent and her trials and tribulations with her daughter.”

An aside, I interviewed Mark Andrews earlier this year and he is a ball of energy and excitement. He’s kind of like King Fergus, but with pants on.

Brave is full of tension, humor, and tenderness. The story is original and fits perfectly into the world that Pixar has created, but also relates easily with families today — thanks to the guiding hands of Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews, and a team of passionate creatives.

“It’s alchemy,” said Andrews.

Also, the bear scenes are very scary.

I took this photo while visiting Pixar Animation Studios. The tapestry plays a pivotal role in Brave.

I’m not kidding about the scary part. I spoke with a number of parents after a media screening of Brave and most of them said that their kids were scared to the point that a few of them had to leave. My boys, ages six and nine, were fine, in a grabbing my arm and stopping the flow of blood sort of way. I’m okay with that.

Walt Disney was a big fan of inviting kids to explore, through the safe medium of storytelling, the entire spectrum of emotion — and that includes such things as fear and sadness. Pixar has followed suit (see, UP).

Brave may have some scares (and some kilt-related nudity), but its message is one of understanding and love, and it gets you right in the heart. There’s probably an archery analogy there somewhere, but it’s late and thinking takes time. You understand.

Bottom line (see, kilt-related nudity), the story strikes the notes that only Pixar can, and the animation is stunning. Amazingly so. You might say that Pixar has really hit the target. It’s an archery thing.

Brave opens everywhere on Friday, June 22.