Pixar never ceases to amaze. Even the weakest film from this amazingly creative group makes others in the animation world green with envy.
Their latest offering is, in every sense of the word, "Brave."
It's the story of Merida, a young Scottish princess with a mind of her own. Her adoring father, who is somewhat of a blunt instrument, and her loving, very proper mother have different levels of tolerance for her free spirit. The king delights in his young daughter's prowess with bow and arrow; the queen is focused on manners and ladylike behavior. A collision is coming.
When the queen announces it's time for marriage, a gathering of the four clans is arranged and a husband is to be chosen. Needless to say, the princess balks. While delays in the decision have the very colorful Highland Chieftains fomenting and getting more and more agitated by the moment, Merida and her mother are upstairs in the castle having a blowout confrontation. The fiery princess bolts and rides into the forest, where she is led by little, blue will-of-the-wisps to the door of a strange woodcarver who turns out to be a witch.
Oh, she's not a malevolent witch — she simply has the ability.
Merida has determined that if she had a different mother, her situation would change, so she asks the witch to use her ability to conjure up something. With less than adequate instruction and precaution, the young princess facilitates the "change," totally unprepared for the result. Her mother indeed changes, but into something most unexpected.
What follows is a race against time to not only get her mother back, but also to save her from those who know nothing of the spell and see only an enemy.
The Pixar/Disney folks have brought true art to the screen. The animation is breathtaking and the voice work is perfect. From Kelly Macdonald as Merida and Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor to Billy Connelly as King Fergus and Robbie Coltrane giving voice to Lord Dingwall, each is delicious and each brings a real-life lineage tied directly to Scotland, or at least the British Isles.
Pixar, never a group to avoid new territory, has delivered something not even close to "Toy Story," "Up," "Cars," "Monsters, Inc." or "The Incredibles." The studio has bravely gone where it hasn't gone before with "Brave." Get ready for some scary moments, a little sass and even a few comical bare behinds. But most of all, get ready for a lot of fun. I'm giving "Brave" 3½ stars.