In the 10th century highlands, Princess Merida (voiced by Macdonald) is annoyed that her only fate seems to be to choose a suitor from three eligible losers.
She'd much rather be out having epic adventures and making her own history. Her mother, Queen Elinor (Thompson), struggles to keep Merida in line, to say nothing of her rambunctious husband, King Fergus (Connolly), and three tearaway young sons. When Merida's frustration boils over, she consults a witch (Walters) about a spell that will sort her mother out. Of course, what happens isn't what she had in mind.
The central theme is pretty universal: parents and teenagers rarely listen to each other, which makes it difficult to understand not only each other but themselves as well. In this story it takes a mythical curse to snaps them to attention, but the characters are written, animated and voiced with a remarkable attention to detail. Telling movements and emotional performances draw us in, while the sweeping landscapes provide stunning backdrops.
Merida is a particularly strong character: a feisty young woman who simply has no time for the usual Disney-princess dreaminess. She isn't hoping that one day her prince will come; she's dreading that day, because it means she'll have to be a sidekick in her own life. She also bullheadedly refuses to see that history has given her responsibilities, and that her relationships are as important as her desire for independence. And the screenplay cleverly handles these resonant issues without hammering the message.
On the other hand, since the best scenes are interpersonal moments, the other stuff can feel gimmicky. The engaging action scenes are either humorous or scary, depending on the mood the filmmakers require at this moment in the story arc. And the male characters are little more than comic relief (although Fergus has his moments). But the film's real strength is in the central relationship, which pays off in a way that's far more delicate and complex than most animated films would dare.
Run time: 93 mins
In Theaters: Friday 22nd June 2012
Box Office USA: $237.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $539M
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Production compaines: Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 175 Rotten: 50
IMDB: 7.2 / 10
Producer: Katherine Sarafian
Starring: Kelly Macdonald as Mérida (voice), Julie Walters as The Witch (voice), Billy Connolly as King Fergus (voice), Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor (voice), Kevin McKidd as Lord MacGuffin / Young MacGuffin (voice), Craig Ferguson as Lord Macintosh (voice), Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall (voice), Peigi Barker as Young Merida (voice), Steven Cree as Young Macintosh (voice), Steve Purcell as The Crow (voice), Callum O'Neill as Wee Dingwall (voice), Patrick Doyle as Martin (voice), John Ratzenberger as Gordon (voice)
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