It’s probably enough to say Pixar? Brave? Redemption! to herald this latest animated feature, in which Pixar atones for the disastrous and tragic Cars 2. This time? The target is princesses.

The caterwauling that accompanied this movie’s announcement with movie sloths shunning it because “Pixar finally has their first female lead and she’s a princess!” was stupid. Not ineffective, necessarily, because the movie starts along the very, very well trod princess path.

The Boy said this hurt them somewhat, since it’s been done badly so many times before. And I confess to a degree of trepidation as we’re introduced to the fiery-headed princess, who’s more into archery and adventures than princess stuff.

OK, in a ‘90s Disney-style princess movie, you’d queue the self-discovery song, and the character would go on an  that would ultimately lead to her misguided parent(s) learning to accept her for who she is.

Kind of a pandering to the participation trophy generation, really.

This movie? Well, it takes a sharp left turn when you least expect it to, and becomes a movie about feisty young children learning to respect their elders and the responsibilities that come with who they are.

You know something’s up when the mother points out that by her actions, Princess Merida may have started a tribal war.

But that’s not really the sharp turn. And what’s extra cool is that the sharp turn is only barely hinted at in the trailer. You just never see it coming until it’s just about to happen.

Great voice cast, with Kelly MacDonald (“Boardwalk Empire”, No Country For Old Men—who the hell knew she was Scottish?) as Merida, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson as her parents, and a bunch of other people from the Harry Potter movies rounding it out.

Visually stunning, naturally. Merida’s hair is a triumph. At the same time, Pixar manages to hit the sweet spot between photorealism and cartoon-ism. The characters are cartoon-y enough to avoid the Uncanny Valley while there is, for example, a fishing scene where the water and fish look absolutely real.

The most amazing stuff I can’t say without tipping off what the movie’s about.

Great score. Both The Flower and The Barbarienne loved while The Boy liked tremendously. He expressed some reservations, as I mentioned, about how tired and badly the tropes had been done, but even he got a little excited when we started talking about all the little sight gags and masterful touches we expect from Pixar.

We missed most of the opening short but it looked lovely, too.

Definitely worth checking out.

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