It’s summer time again and that means a few things; warm days, movies, Baseball, the beach, and a new Disney/Pixar film.  This time around Disney and Pixar take you to the Highlands of Scotland for their new feature Brave.

Brave tells the story of Princess Merida (Boardwalk Empire’s Kelly Macdonald) who yearns to be free of her royal lifestyle and carve her own path in life, but of her mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) has other ideas.  It all comes to a head when Merida defies sacred tradition and causes chaos among the clans.  With Merida desperate to change her fate she then turns to a mysterious witch who gives her a spell to “change” her mother.  Now Merida and her mother must find a way to break the spell and bring the kingdom back from the brink of war.

Rounding out the cast is Merida’s father King Fergus (Billy Connolly) who is on a never ending search for Mor’du, a bear who took his leg many years ago.  He also lends some great comic relief in his search.  Merida’s triplet brothers Harris, Hubert, and Hamish offer the most comic relief though with their mischief and their on going quest for desserts.  As much as they love to cause trouble, they also come to be a great help to Merida.

Brave strays away from the father/son and “father knows best” standard and focuses more on a mother/daughter relationship between two females who contrast in their set ways.  Even though that focus is mother/daughter, there is still plenty of action and comedy for males to enjoy.  While many of the jokes are what you expect to find (strong dialects, kilt jokes, etc.), the filmmakers find a way to make it work.  One thing to remember is that the jokes and story are a little more simple because the main focus is a younger audience.  The animation is fluid and the Scottish Highlands scenery is beautiful to look at.  The film is also screened in 3D, and that element helps immerse the audience into the scenery.  Still present in Brave is Pixar’s ability to push the emotional buttons and engage the audience into the story.  The films soundtrack also helps to bring things full circle for the audience.  Composed by the award nominated Patrick Doyle, the music truly brings the film’s depiction of Scotland to life using many different Scottish instruments.

Some of the action and later scenes depicting Mor’du can get intense at times for some of the younger viewers, hence the PG rating.  Overall, Brave satisfies many different aspects of the audience (action, drama, humor, & suspense) and is a great addition to Pixar’s line of work.  The Academy Award nominated short La Luna is also shown before so get to the theater early for an extra animated treat.

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