Brave (2012) – Mark Andrews (Dir.), Kelly MacDonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly
There is a film company, out there, lost in the darkness of the cinematic hellscape we call Hollywood. A beacon of impeachable light, a bastion of true talent and imagination. As the demons of bullshittery infect every commercial frame of celluloid time and again, they persevere, a teflon giant, kicking ass and taking names in the realm of childish glee and unfettered creativity. I am, of course, describing Pixar. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that if I were to run into Pixar in a gas station, it would take about two minutes before my panties are on the floor and I’m doing unspeakable acts. I mean, come on, for all of its family values and sensibility, you know Pixar is freaky in the sack. And then, after that momentary tryst, I’d keep calling, show up at Pixar’s place at 3 am, weeping my eyes out and searching for comfort. Disney would demand, “Pixar, who is this crazy asshole?” and Pixar would just say its someone who needs their help. And then, as we begin drinking the wine, I make a move. And…BOOM. Fake pregnancy, break up the marriage and I have a ring on the finger. Let’s just say, I’ll lock that shit down. And if it does take some boiling pets Glenn Close-style, so be it. I am determined.
Alrighty then, to Brave. No juggernaut of such skill and amazingness is perfect. Nor is this movie. But I’ll tell you this, for all those naysayers sneering at the shortened running time, the neat little bow placed on its top at the end, and the general lack of the complexity we have come to expect from the studio as a whole, they can shut up. When was the last time you saw something this beautiful and heartfelt? Shut up. Just shut it. That’s my future spouse you’re shitting on there. Anyway, Brave is great. Not the greatest, nor will it be remembered. But it’s well worth seeing and soon. So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? This is the story of Merida (voiced by the infinitely cute Kelly MacDonald) rebelling against her straight-laced, tradition-bound mother (Emma Fucking Thompson. I told you in MIB3 her actual middle name is ‘Fucking’. Deal with it) who is trying to pawn her off to one of the three major clans to help ensure Scottish peace. Well, Merida gets a spell from a random surprisingly tech-savvy witch that ‘changes her mother’.
I won’t give away spoilers…but you can kind of figure out what she turns into. Okay, fine. I will give spoilers. She turns into a bear. Genius. Let’s move along.
So, the rest of the movie is Merida trying to stop her hilariously goofy, yet incredibly adept killer of a father (comedian and renowned star of Boondock Saints II: Boondockier Saints, Billy Connolly) from murdering her mother and stuffing her while at the same time transforming her back to herself before the second dawn. Why the second dawn? Shut the fuck, that’s why. We’ve got some side plots with a demon bear and the absurdly impish
firecrotch redheaded triplet brothers. People learn lessons, the scots are ridiculed and everyone lives happily ever after. Again, it ain’t deep. But, damn, it be pretty. I remember when the movie Final Fantasy: Spirits Within came out, bravely not being at all like the video game it was ‘based on’ and employing Alex Baldwin as the main love interest. It really was a brave film. Did I say ‘brave’? I meant ‘piece of baboon feces’. Anyway, all of Geekdom was creaming themselves over the main character’s hair and how ‘lifelike’ it was. Well, it could be called ‘lifelike’ if the bitch had never heard of conditioner. Maybe some styling products. I know this is post-apocalypse with a bunch of…ghosts? I guess? But you could find SOMETHING to use. Sidenote: That movie is an enigma, a blip on the radar of collective insanity. Try watching it. I dare you. It also answers the age old question of “Is Steve Buscemi as terrifying in CG as he is in real life?” I won’t tell you now. You have to watch and find out (cue: evil laugh). Anyway, the belabored point is this: that lady who had all of Japan’s technology up Square’s butthole trying to simulate real hair was a woman with straight black hair. That’s like paying thousands of dollars getting every paint in the world together, only to do something in black and white. A brunette? Really? I love me some brunettes, but that shit ain’t exactly challenging. Come on, people, have some balls. Brave on the other hand creates the most gorgeous mass of curly red locks that I have ever seen. I got a major salon boner that almost lasted long enough to warrant a doctor visit.
This is an important movie though for subtler reasons than you’d expect. First of all, it’s one of the few Pixar movies to pass the Bechdel test. And with flying colors too. The main two characters are ladygirls and extremely competent ladygirls at that. Both are charismatic. Both are intelligent. In fact, rarely in a major motion picture is the central relationship between a mother and a daughter. You might get one of the side plots concerning them or it’s an utter chick flick. But here…it’s compelling as all hell, at least to me. You have this girl throwing her independence in the face of age-old tradition, believing that its solely her mother’s fault that they are in this mess, when really her mother is simply a slave to the same traditions. She isn’t forcing the girl into line, she’s offering ways of coping with what can’t be changed. But then…they change it… and that all goes to the wind. So…I guess…fuck tradition? Sure. Why not. Not only that, but there is no love interest. There is no disarming male presence that comes to the rescue in the end. They’re all too busy fighting like idiots. How refreshing is that? Seriously. But, for all the well-devised exploration of full female characters, the movie is decidedly short-sighted on the Scots. I’m not sure if any of the Scotch actors involved minded being portrayed as backwater nincompoops. I mean…it was funny, though an utter fetishization of Scottish culture, a minstrel show for modern day anglophiles. But…pick your battles. I did laugh pretty hard when they all walked back into the castle bare-assed. So. Yeah. That’s cool.
One thing that did endlessly amuse me throughout the film is the fact that I know very adult things about each of the actors involved. That’s like watching Sesame Street knowing that everyone behind the scenes is doing blow (not true! I promise! I know some of those guys and it’s not true!… To my knowledge…DUN DUN DUUUUH). We have Kelly MacDonald, perpetually stuck as that schoolgirl in Danny Boyle’s trippy-as-fuck morally-questionable Trainspotting. You know, that movie where Ewen Bremner shits himself and then accidentally throws it over a couple of parents eating dinner. Also, on the amazingly delicious and entirely white-as-fuck British quiz show QI, Emma Thompson recounted the fact that when she was living with Stephen “Oh lord, He’s Queerer Than Oscar Wilde With a Pineapple Up his Arse” Fry, she used to terrify him by stripping naked and shaking her titties in his general direction. True story. And hilarious. And…arousing? Sorry, I have a crush on Ms. Thompson that will never die. Finally, we have Billy Connolly. I have seen his penis. Not in real life…just on British television. Seriously, you should switch on some of the smut on the BBC. Those saucy minxes. I couldn’t get that out of my head. Especially Connolly’s free-balling haggis flopping about Trafalgar Square (he actually did that. Wikipedia it if you don’t believe me).
In the end, you should see Brave. Support Pixar. They have more talent in their fucking nighttime janitorial staff than Brett Ratner has in the entirety of his nobbish existence. Support a movie with a couple of strong female leads and set outside of America’s comfort zone. It’s funny, it’s cute, it’s pretty and it has a tiny bear diving into a woman’s cleavage. What’s not to love?