#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
"Who gets Humperdinck?"
"I don't understand."
"Who kills Prince Humperdinck? At the end, somebody's got to do it! Is it Inigo? Who?"
"Nobody. Nobody kills him. He lives."
"You mean he wins? Jesus, grand-pa, why did you read me this thing for?"
"You know, you've been very sick, and you're taking this story very seriously. I think we'd better stop now."
"No, I'm ok. I'm ok. Sit down. I'm all right."
The good news is that the kids will probably love it, and the bad news is that parents will be disappointed if they're hoping for another Pixar groundbreaker.
This is a great-looking movie, much enlivened by the inspiration of giving Merida three small brothers, little redheaded triplets. The Scottish Highlands are thrillingly painted in astonishing detail, and some action shows Merida's archery more than equal in assorted emergencies.
"Brave" has an uplifting message about improving communication between mothers and daughters, although transforming your mom into a bear is a rather extreme first step. Elinor is a good sport, under the circumstances. But Merida is far from being a typical fairy-tale princess. Having flatly rejected the three suitors proposed by her family, she is apparently prepared to go through life quite happily without a husband, and we can imagine her in later years, a weathered and indomitable Amazon queen, sort of a Boudica for the Scots. "Brave" seems at a loss to deal with her as a girl and makes her a sort of honorary boy.
At its best, Brave accesses all the complicated feelings involved between a parent and a rebellious adolescent: the mutual frustration, the lack of communication, the way conflicting desires can mask love without weakening it. But Brave goes to that deep emotional well too rarely; it spends more time splashing in the shallows.
It’s deeply tempting to blame the film’s bifurcated feel on its two directors—Brenda Chapman, the original director, conceived of the film based on her relationship with her daughter, but was fired from the project. Pixar storyboarding vet and first-time feature director Mark Andrews, who previously directed the Oscar-nominated Pixar short “One-Man Band,” took over partway through the production. Given Pixar’s organic, collaborative method of story-building, it’s far too simplistic to attribute the mid-film change to the mid-film directorial switch. But the not-always-satisfying end results suggest a film with multiple agendas and visions that don’t fully work together. It’s a lovely picture, but the frame could use some straightening.
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