BRAVE: A Mom's Review

Merida Princess

Last night I announced on Facebook that my husband and I were going out to see a pre-release of Pixar’s new Brave movie. I was amazed when about 40 of you liked the status and 14 of you commented! Who knew movie reviews were so popular?!

Let’s begin with the fact that I love (big puffy heart) love Disney and Pixar. I love every single thing that comes out of Pixar’s magical little brain. They introduced us to the secret life of toys, rats, cars, superheroes, robots and the heart of a a forever marriage. They made me fall in love with a cowboy doll, a trash compacting robot and a crotchety old man.  I was hoping the *heart squeeze* I get when I see Up or Toy Story 3 would be there in Brave.

I love a good period piece (even if it is a cartoon), I used to teach archery at camp (I have the pins and badges to prove it) so the girl archer had me excited (especially after Katniss!) and I was happy to see a non-girly Princess movie come around.

You’re sensing a “but” coming, aren’t you? You’re right. There is one. But first. Let’s do the positive parts.

{**HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD**}

disney pixar merida

Why You & Your Kids {Will} Want To See Brave

1. La Luna. This is actually the short before Brave. And oh! oh! It’s exactly why I love Pixar. It’s another sweet secret-life-of, only this time it’s about the moon. And 3 generations of men. And being yourself. And just: OH! I loved it! Sweetest story ever. (<–I’m so articulate, huh?)

OK, back to Brave…

2. It’s Gorgeous. The movie is straight up stunning. The long flowing red hair of our heroine, Merida; the greenery of Scotland, the majestic horses and the castles! Sometimes I forgot it was computer generated!

3. It’s Not a Love Story. Although the premise of the movie is three clans fighting for Princess Merida’s hand in marriage, there is no love interest. No true-love’s-kiss. Not even a dashing young hero or suggestive clothing (in fact, Merida wears the most modest Princess dress I’ve ever seen!). Merida says several times regarding marriage, “I’m not ready. It’s not time.” (<–not an exact quote.)

4. It’s a Family Story. The real story is about the relationship between a mother and daughter. It’s the story of how moms and daughters misunderstand each other, close their ears and hearts to the other and act in their own selfish ways. It’s really the story of a rebellious daughter and how she binds the rift she created in her family. The very last scene had her apologizing, saying she was wrong, selfish and completely at fault. (Wow. When has that ever happened in a movie?!)

The love of Merida’s family was evident. The mother, Queen Elinor and father, King Fergus loved and cared for each other (as evidenced by him grabbing her backside and laying a big embarrassing kiss on her!) and for their children. Not to mention a normal family who eats dinner around the table! Just seeing a real mom who kisses her daughter and is not an evil, wicked step-mother was fabulous.

5. It was a Thrilling Story. The story is full of adventure, excitement, magic, peril and valor. I didn’t really read anything about it beforehand or watch many previews so I didn’t know what it was about. So, I was swept away with the story. I was engaged in it as much any non-kids movie, for sure.

6. Accents. Who doesn’t love a good Scottish brogue?

Is Brave ok for kids?

Why You & Your Kids {Might Not} Want To See Brave

1. The Rebellious Daughter. Like I said, the story was really of Merida’s rebellion against her parents, specifically her mother. Now, this isn’t anything unusual for Disney (think Ariel and her, “I’m 16 years old!”) but the first part of the movie was filled with Merida rolling her eyes, whining, complaining, arguing and flat out disrespecting her mom as the Queen grooms her daughter for her role as Princess and one day, Queen.

And the problem is, I agreed with Merida! I felt bad that she had to learn to speak and write and be queenly when all she wanted to do was ride her horse and shoot her bow. I don’t want my daughter to identify with a rebellious girl. I don’t want her mimicking eyerolls, complaints and phrases like, “You are never there for me!”.

2. Magic. Now this is a tricky one. I tend to like magic. I read Harry Potter. I have always enjoyed mythology and fairy tales. I like the fantastical and supernatural.

However, this wasn’t the seven-dwarfs-true-love’s-kiss magic. It was a witch-and-cauldron, ghostly-other-worldly kind of magic. I’ll admit the witch leaned heavily into The Sword and the Stone‘s Mad Madam Mim, so she was comic relief. But real magic was crucial to this story.

3. Crudeness. This is old Scotland we’re talking about. Think Braveheart. Fighting and clobbering one another was par for the course. The Scottish clans reminded me of the Thugs in Tangled, so they were very cartoon-ish and funny. But still, there was lots of fighting!

There is also one part where the men get stuck on a roof, so they make a rope from their clothes to get back to the ground. When they finally do get to the ground and walk back into the castle, their bare bottoms are shown. This coupled with one of the Lord’s lifting his kilt to moon the others, was too crude for a kids’ movie, in my opinion.

One of the maidservants was an ample-bosomed woman. And although it was not sexy like Jessica Rabbit, there was still a joke or two about her body.

4. Scariness. You may have seen the trailer with the giant bear. That was one of three scenes that had a big ferocious bear fight. One of those scenes included a bear that was in fact the magic-ed Queen Elinor (I’m really trying NOT to ruin the whole story for you!) and at one point, I really thought she was going to die. The feeling of knowing that the bear was actually the mother and she was about to get killed made it somehow scarier. I can see some younger children being affected by that.

pixar brave disney

So, would I recommend it?

Well, my kids are 3 and 6. And they are not going to see it. For my young, impressionable and easily-frightened kids, it’s just too old for them.

The main reasons they won’t be seeing it are the scariness and the attitude of Merida. I really try to shield (ok, overly protect) them from bad attitudes towards family (like uhm, every single elementary aged show out there). So, even though the ending shows a completely contrite Merida, I think the whining/complaining/arguing might outweigh her attitude at the end.

An older child should be able to see Merida’s change from whining daughter to apologetic daughter better than a younger kid. Two of my friends with older kids saw it with their daughters and said it was perfect mother-daughter conversation starter. This is exactly what Les and I said when we left the movie:  it is perfect for some great conversation–about obeying your parents, trusting them even when you don’t understand, not doing your own thing just because you want your way, putting others first and accepting your family and learning from them. In fact, if you see this movie and do not have a conversation about it, you’ve really missed out on a great opportunity.

How Was Brave for Kids?

In Conclusion

I really enjoyed Brave. It was exciting and (for me) full of surprises.

The ending was beautiful. The reconnect of daughter and mother was absolutely perfect. I love seeing a family that loves each other–strong fathers protecting their wives, siblings working together, daughters respecting and admiring their mothers, parents loving and respecting their children. The last fifteen minutes of the movie, showed all that and more.

The question is whether those 15 minutes are worth the rest of the movie. How impressionable are your children? How old are your kids? How much do those little sponges internalize from a fictional movie? You’ll have to weigh what is important to you and your family.

I realize I nitpicked this movie to death, but it’s the kind of things I want to know when I show my kids a movie. And it’s the things that my husband and I talked about on the way home.

I’d love to know what you think of Brave if you see it! I really hope you didn’t feel like I’m slamming the movie. It is not my intent to make you feel bad if you watch it–or stop you from seeing it! I just wanted to give you every detail I could before you go! Most reviews deal strictly with numbers of cuss words and how many times someone get shot. I wanted to talk about the little details that matter to kids’ hearts. My only suggestion is if you do see it, use it as an amazing teachable moment and have some great family conversation!

Are you going to see Brave? How do you choose what kinds of movies your kids see?

See my favorite spots for family-friendly movie reviews!

bible craft

Disclosure: I was invited to see Brave as media. I am not a Disney employee. All thoughts and words are my own. All photos are property of Walt Disney Studios and used with permission.

Comments

  1. Thank you SO much for your honest review! As much as the heroine sounds like my second daughter {tomboy all the way. The oldest might as well BE Rapunzel! LOL!}, it sounds like my family should hold off on seeing this movie. THANK YOU!!

  2. Thanks so much for this! I love your detailed review (not nit-picky!) :) I appreciate including the elements that would be great teaching moments for some older kids and the same things not be great for younger kids. Thank you for your honest, but non-judgmental thoughts on this and expressing it’s not a one-size fits all kind of movie. I have a 5-year-old who is very affected by fiction, gets very wrapped up in the story, and is easily scared by movie scenes. So we won’t be seeing this now, but I look forward to the day when she can handle it a little better and have great conversation with her afterwards. Thanks!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Thank you do much for your honest and detailed review. My boys are 5 & 7 and we will hold off on seeing this as well. I appreciate your review!

  4. Jamie {See Jamie Blog} says:

    I appreciate the thorough review! My 11yo has been itching to know what this story is about, & thinks this princess is gorgeous. My 17yo usually loves these kinds of movies, too. I think I’ll watch it with both of them – but I won’t take my younger daughter to the theater because she would really hate the scary parts, & scary parts are far scarier (& louder) on the big screen! Maybe it could me a mother-daughter date with my teen, and she’d be happy enough to watch again later at home.
    Anyway, this was super-helpful!

  5. Jessica says:

    I am so glad that a friend posted your link on FB. I appreciate your candid review. I usually use http://www.pluggedinonline.com before we allow our kids to see a movie. In fact, my kids badger me with “Have you read the review yet?” and the movie Brave was no different. They are dying to see it (that’s kidspeak) and I had heard a few things about the movie so I wasn’t sure. Thank you so much for not glossing over the bad bits and not playing up the good bits. You were truthful and honest and that means a lot. I will definitely be marking your blog as a favorite and visiting again. Thank you!

  6. Sallie E. says:

    Thanks, Amanda. This is exactly the kinds of things I like to know about a movie before I let my four year old watch it! So many people seem to think that if it’s animated it’s fine for kids. :( I have passed the link along on FB so others can see it too.

  7. I am so glad you shared this with us! I was thinking that I needed to read some reviews about this because I know it won’t be long before I’ve got kiddos wanting to see it. It’s so great knowing details (I’m not worried about any spoiler alert, for sure!) so that I can protect my kids.

  8. SO happy you posted this. My husband was going to take my 5 year old tonight and maybe they need to pick something else. She is very easily frightened and already has a bit of the sass! Thanks!

  9. Wow! What a great review! We don’t have children, but now I’m really looking forward to seeing it with my husband for date night :-). Have a great weekend!

  10. Amanda, this is a brilliant review. Really. I didn’t find the magic to be offensive or dangerous, but other than that, I agree with every one of your points. Thank you for your thorough review!

    • I didn’t mind the magic, actually. I was just saying that if “real” magic bothers you, this movie had it! (but those little blue ghost things were kinda weird.)

  11. Thanks, girl! With our little guy being 15 – we weren’t planning on taking him anyway, but Nate and I LOVE LOVE LOVE (with our big puffy hearts) all of Pixar’s work! Nate has Toy Story’s entire dialogue memorized actually…the ENTIRE thing. So, this will be a date night movie for us and we’re pumped about it – our roots are Scottish after all and when the boys are older, we’ll use it as that teaching tool! Love your honesty and caring about the “little things.”

  12. Annette Eberly says:

    I love the excellent review. Thanks so much for taking the time to spell it out. I haven’t seen the movie, but I feel informed now. Blessings

  13. Thanks for this! I have unfortunately made the mistake of taking my boys to a movie because it was rated G and was a cartoon and regretted it. I think you bring up a good point that it can perhaps be a conversation starter when they’re older, but I’m making an effort to be more cautious with movies with my preschoolers. This review helped me make the decision that we’ll definitely be waiting on this one! Thanks! :)

  14. Thank you for this very specific review! Very helpful!

  15. Thanks for the review Amanda. I was thinking the same thoughts just from watching the trailor. My kids don’t need an education on how to be disrespectful and rebellious. I appreciated hearing that there is reconcilliation in the end. That will be a good conversation starter for us down the road when they are all old enough to analyze more than they would be influenced… And like I said on fb, I hope Pixar goes back to being funny w/out having to resort to crude humor. That is one of their trademarks that we simply love about them!

  16. Adrienne says:

    I liked the movie. I took my 13yo neice, and since 2 1/2 & 3 1/2. They enjoyed it. Not to scarry about the bears. It was funny. Loved the moon short at the beginning

  17. awesome, honest review Amanda! I so appreciate it. I’m thinking that my husband and I would like to watch but not my 3 year old. Thanks again!

  18. Kristin Jarrett says:

    After seeing the movie trailer a few weeks ago, my husband and I had some reservations about taking our kids to see it in the theater (ages 6, 4 and 2 1/2). We appreciated your honest and very detailed review. Helping to confirm that we will be waiting to watch this one for a while. Thanks!!

  19. Great review! You went into more detail & picked up on a few things that I didn’t, but overall our reviews are really similar! :) It’s definitely one that parents need to think about & decide on whether it’s something their younger kids can handle.

  20. I really wanted to see this at the screening in Charlotte last night but my kids chose to not skip a night of VBS. I was both happy and disappointed because *I* want to see it too. Now I’m glad we skipped out. Disney can definitely take magic further than I’m comfortable with and my girls definitely tend to pick up an attitude from people on TV. I’m going to have to see it first I think.

  21. So, so helpful! My 5yo has really been struggling with her attitude and words lately, especially toward me. Now to figure out whether this would make it worse or be an opportunity to help her understand why it is not ok. I’m afraid option B is wishful thinking. Boo.

  22. What a great review! My husband and I don’t have kids… but I totally want to see the movie too! :)

  23. I have to say, I love the thought you’ve put into your review. But I also sent my 3 and 5 year old daughters to watch it with their dad a few hours ago. I’m okay with the rebellious teen stuff because well, my daughter is 5 and already sassy. Violence isn’t really that bothersome for me either, they’ve all seen all of the Harry Potter movies. Seeing or not seeing movies like this won’t change who they become as people.

  24. Hmmmm . . . so I’m thinking a maybe on mother-daughter date with my 7 year old, but no to the family movie night. Thanks for the insight. :)

  25. Thank you for the review, Amanda! I was looking forward to this. I wanted to see the movie, but don’t think we will. Emily would get the change, but Olivia is so impressionable & she picks up every little attitude that someone shows. I’ve recently banned a lot of shows & things they use to watch & a lot of the games they played online, as well as the way they played with each other & the games they would play. I don’t want my girls to grow up faster than they should & I want them to learn to be Godly girls & respectful. Oh & I’ll never understand why producers & movie writers feel the need to put adult themes in a movie geared towards kids!

  26. Kristen says:

    Thanks for the “heads up” but I think we will be seeing it anyway even with the 3 and 6 yr olds. We make sure our kids understand truth vs fiction and can’t teach that without something to relate it to. I have 3 boys (and another on the way) all with an addiction to superheroes so violence is something we talk about very often. My 11 and 9 yr olds need to see the change of heart and importance of family parts too. They are at that age…. I’m not too thrilled to hear about the magic part, those are what we try to avoid getting too deep into but if it’s too bad then we just won’t buy it on DVD one viewing won’t be the be all end all on that topic.

  27. Heather says:

    Wow! Thanks friend! Having kiddos the same ages as yours I also consider the elements you mentioned. So thank you for taking the time to type this all out. Fabulous! I thought u were very fair in ur assessment. Hope I get to see it sometime without my boys. Can u review all the movies please?

  28. Thank you for your honesty. I sometimes feel like a freak mom in the world that DENIES her children the basic entertainment that their friends get to see. Sound like you have similar views about things and I appreciate the information!

  29. thank you so much. I was wondering about this movie. I really appreciate your review. I won’t be taking my 3-year-old to see this! :) So glad you let us know.

  30. It is a nice movie except bear stuff. Disney once again abuses the public with agressive and scary bear fights in a movie for kids.

  31. Thank you so much! This is exactly the kind of review I like!!

  32. Great review! Thanks so much!

  33. tiffany says:

    Honest and well put review. Thanks! We watched it last night with our 9 & 11 year old and I agree w/ your review.

  34. I liked all the things you liked about the movie. I also struggled with the selfishness of Merida, but figured it would all get tied up in the end. What I really did not like is that all of the male characters were portrayed as buffoons. There was not one truly intelligent and strong man in the story. I am tired of this stereotype in popular culture. It has a negative impact on how our kids see their fathers and other male authority figures.

  35. Thank you so much for this! I saw the trailer and immediately got a weird feeling about the sort of magic being depicted. I’m grateful to you for the additional information that confirms my suspicions. And, I definitely don’t need my impressionable littles identifying with a rebellious child. This was a great review! No need to apologize for spoilers. I need to know as many details as possible. :)

  36. I was so surprised at how much I *didn’t* love this movie. Because I really, really wanted to. But it was just so unoriginal, so…ordinary. Yes, it was beautiful, and yes, certain elements were unique for a Disney movie (fully intact family, no Prince), but the sitcom-like family dynamics, the human changing into an animal, etc. Pixar is known for being such an innovative film studio, and nothing here felt very innovative to me. I enjoyed it on a very basic level, but (like I said in my own review) found it “more mediocre than magical.”

  37. Thanks! That’s exactly the kind of movie review I like to read.

  38. I really enjoyed it as well (though I am a Disney lover without children so I tend to watch it with different eyes!) As a psychologist who does lots of therapy with mothers and daughters, I think I will use it as a homework assignment. It gives such an amazing picture of trying to understand one another and the idea of mutual respect. The softening of both throughout the movie is evident. I also LOVED the marriage aspect. The husband was supportive and definitely in love with his wife. That is something that has been lacking in cartoons in general. I can understand the concerns that have been stated, but fairy tales have served as Cautionary Tales from creation. The cautions in this movie are about pride and selfish desires and I think it does an excellent job portraying them and the consequences.

  39. Thank you for this. I didn’t know anything about the movie at all, other than it looked fun. I definitely won’t be taking my 7 year old daughter or 4 yr old son now, they too get scared very easily. Why do the makers of movies always have to put in scary scenes in children’s movies? Also I hate that sort of witch/magic stuff, so I doubt I will see it either. but it does sound like a worthwhile movie for a friend of mine and her 14 yr old daughter to see together. Thanks again!

  40. Thanks for this post. It was just what I was looking for as I searched for a detailed review/information on Brave. I had wondered about if it was appropriate for our children and know I can make an educated decision.

  41. Great review! While I’m excited to watch it, I can tell my kids aren’t quite ready for it!

    Thanks!

  42. Abby Kowalik says:

    Thank you for your review! It was SO helpful! Our kids are so impressionable and like little sponges and I don’t think we are ready for this movie. Thanks so much.

  43. thanks for this. I have been wondering about it ever since I saw the trailor about it. My kids are teens but still like animated movies so I can’t wait to take them. I just went to Scotland, love any good period piece and who doesn’t like a story about a royal family!thanks so much.

  44. Thanks for you thorough review. You gave me enough to make a wise choice, which is to pass on this movie. Thanks!

  45. Thank you! This was just what I needed. I will wait until my daughter is much older to let her watch Brave.

  46. Thanks for the review! I haven’t seen Brave yet, but I’ve had some hesitency since I heard that this heroine had no interest in a husband. I know that sounds a little strange, but in a culture that has lowered it’s respect for marriage to an all-time low, I don’t want to encourage the thought that women can’t be all they were meant to be once they’re married.

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  48. This is horrible review by an over protective mother that doesn’t want her children to experience life. It’s more of less, I’m going to hide them room away from the world. Seriously, Mother Grothel much? They are going to witness kids acting in the same manners as Disney movies. They are going to witness scary things. Good parenting is helping them grow a thick skin and teaching them values found in Brave and biggest value is family. Scary things are going to happen. What do you do if you pass a car wreck? A no family is perfect. So, if you are trying to make the perfect family you are lost in a sea of discord and you need to come back to reality.

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