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Disney Pixar Brave – a dad’s review

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohZYFFA012Y[/youtube]

Ok, we’re all busy, time is short so let’s do this the practical way… conclusion first. Brave is absolutely brilliant. Go and see it if you have half the chance, with or without your kids. It’s has a few ‘dramatic’ scenes that may make sensitive under-3’s grizzle but for everyone else, you’ll love everything about it.

Still reading? Ok, I guess you want a little more detail. So as usual with these reviews, I have to declare a bit of an interest. I used to work for a company that did a lot of work with Disney and Pixar and I’ve worked on a lot of Disney movies over the years (47 at the last count). While most people ‘just’ watch Pixar movies, I would usually have gone over to LA, sat in the movie studios in Burbank and got the inside track. I know… the cool factor isn’t lost on me. So I know more than most about the ins-and-outs of what makes a good kids movie and more importantly, what makes a Pixar movie great. Also, it was pure luck and coincidence (i.e. knowing the lovely people over at Really Kid Friendly) that I got this opportunity to attend the screening rather than any of my previous-life ties. But I’m not going to pass this one up!

Now I also have to admit, I LOVE all Pixar movies, all of them, bar none. I may have influenced my kids, but they love them to. But each one has a teeny-weeny something that meant it wasn’t a perfect 10 for everyone else. Cars was too ‘Americana’ for international audiences, Ratatouille turned some people off at the thought of a rat in a kitchen (sigh), Wall-E was a bit eco-hi-brow for younger kids, Cars 2’s spy plot was a bit deep in parts and so on. Those things keep we awake at night because I want everyone to think Pixar movies are, well, awesome. Most issues boiled down to Pixar movies expecting more from you as a viewer than the average Shrek-style fart-gag-fest. Sure, kids love fart gags and those cringy musical numbers at the end of most kids’ movies but Pixar is smarter than that. Pixar doesn’t do fart gags, or to be more accurate, Pixar doesn’t need fart gags (although having said that, I think there was on in Cars, but you get the point).

So there we were, me, forty-one-and-a-half-going-on-twelve, two slightly giggly eight-year-old boys and my eleven-year-old daughter at the Empire in London’s Leicester Square. I didn’t know much about Brave when we sat down but thankfully, I knew everything about it when the movie finished. Yep, this Pixar movie’s script is spot on. There were big lols (ask a 15-year-old), lots of chortles, tense silences, thundering drama (followed by wailing from those sensitive 3-year-olds I mentioned before) and a few weeping tears. The entire movie is littered with amazingly well-observed and sensitive details, the sort if details that will no doubt make it a DVD ‘multi-viewing’ contender when it’s released. I must have watched The Incredibles 15 times now so it does happen.

I won’t launch into a full run through of what happens, just watch the trailer on the Brave official website and you’ll get the idea. What I will say is that it’s Pixar at its best, but interestingly, it has a little magic sprinkle of the best of the Disney too. Alongside Pixar’s robust characters, kilts and jaw-dropping visuals are wicked witches, cute anthropomorphic bears, spells, curses and princesses.

My kids both gave it glowing reviews. My son rated it as “really quite scary sometimes, in a nice way, but I didn’t wee myself” and my older daughter commented “that was like, totes amazing!” Praise indeed. Personally, I want to see it again, several times, and I’m slightly peeved I’ll now have to wait until August 13th UK release date (3rd August for Scotland and Ireland btw) for the opportunity. I have a feeling I’ll be paying next time tough…

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