A Love Story Without A Marriage At The End – Brave

Brave - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Brave – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Brave (2012)

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell
Writers: Mark Andrews (screenplay) and Steve Purcell (screenplay) and Brenda Chapman (screenplay) and Irene Mecchi (screenplay), and Brenda Chapman (story)
Stars: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson

One of my favourite Spice Girls’ song is Mama because it’s not your usual soppy song but it’s about girls gaining understanding about their mums and what they have had to put up with as they have raised us. It speaks of a kind of love which is unique, frustrating, and that triumphs in forgiveness and humility. It is simply beautiful.

Brave is not your typical Disney Princess story. It’s the story of a girl who is faced with a situation which is unpleasant any which way she looks and with a mother who, although trying to do what is best for her daughter, is trying to push her daughter along a path that clashes with everything her daughter feels. It is about women with fierce pride and about their tortured journey to try and communicate and understand each other’s point of view.

Disney has once again created a beautiful tale of strong female characters and a story that reflects our day and age. The idea of independence, of choice, and of the power to be who you are is one that has really been taking shape for a while now but has really come out in our narratives recently. And I love it. It is a wonderfully powerful role model and heroine for young women and allows us to break out and explore the world in our own way. It is about coming to the realisation that our mother’s want the best for us, but that we also need to teach them as much as they teach us. Ultimately it is a love story between mother and daughter.

I loved this film because it was typical Disney with it’s great comic timing in animation and its brilliant narrative of adventure, discovery, forgiveness, and triumph. The biggest surprise in this film is that there isn’t really an “evil” that the protagonist is fighting against. There is a witch but she isn’t necessarily evil, and there is a mad bear but he’s just sick with power and loneliness. There is no evil villain but there is the battle of pride which Merida and her mother have to come through. It is this aspect that makes the film different from other Disney princess films and appealing to me as a viewer. I didn’t have high expectations for Brave because I was afraid it was going to be underwhelming like Princess and the Frog was. But Brave really blew me away as it was a beautiful animation and narrative that made me laugh and sigh and come out of feeling uplifted. And that’s what Disney films are meant to do right? They are meant to make you dream and make you feel like anything is possible in the world. Merida is a wonderfully strong heroine and I loved this film so much it may end up bumping Tangled down into third place in my top Disney films list. Beauty and The Beast will always be my favourite but Brave is about a restored mother/daughter relationship and that is a wonderful breath of fresh air in Disney films as it makes up for all those evil step-mothers and their mistreatment of their children. Now we have a magnificent mother character in Disney.

Traveling By Map – The Muppets

The Muppets - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

The Muppets – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

The Muppets (2011)

Director: James Bobin
Writers: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller, and Jim Henson (based on) (as Disney’s Muppet properties and characters)
Stars: Amy Adams, Jason Segel and Chris Cooper

I have always loved the Muppets and I grew up watching their films and TV show reruns. However I really fell in love with the Muppets when I turned 21 when I, for the first time, watched the original Muppet Movie. There was something about seeing the self-aware sense of humour be done in a subtle way that really appealed to me. So of course when the new Muppet film was due to be released I organised with a few girlfriends to see it on opening day. It was everything I could’ve hoped for and more. It had the random singing numbers, the self-aware humour, the story of the Muppets having to come together again and defeat the challenges facing them. And yes, it is the “same story” as the other Muppet movies (Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Movie, even A Muppet Christmas Carol has the same idea) but there is a wonderful beauty to a good story arch and The Muppets stands up for itself in that.

Jason Segel and Amy Adams are brilliant but my favourite performance in this film is by Mickey Rooney who appears for one line but warms my heart so brilliantly! And many of you may not know who Mickey Rooney is and you should go and google him and watch some of his early films with Judy Garland because he is a brilliant actor/musician/dancer/singer/etc. The entire Muppet cast is incredible but even more so is the writing of Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller. They have created an accurate rehashing of one of the world’s most loved family enterprises and I really hope that a whole new generation get to fall in love with The Muppets like I did as a kid.

If you haven’t seen anything of the Muppets previously then a) I feel sorry for you and your childhood, and b) you may not get the Muppets straight away. It is particular strange as an idea but it is an idea that works. The characters, their development over the course of the film, and the way the film brings together so many different artists is a delight to watch for people of all ages. It makes a great family film and adults will love this film as much, if not more than the kids.