Oor Merida is braw!

It’s no clas­sic, Pixar’s lat­est an­i­ma­tion is a gor­geous and funny princess ad­ven­ture with a prop­erly Scot­tish fe­male lead, writes Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

THEY MAY ALL live in houses built from gold bars, but you still have to feel a lit­tle sorry for the good peo­ple at Pixar. Af­ter films such as Up and Toy Story, any­thing less than a clas­sic seems like a dis­ap­point­ment.

The stu­dio bounces back from the gen­uine tur­key that was Cars 2 with this gor­geously hewn, of­ten very funny princess ad­ven­ture set in a ver­sion of the Scot­tish High­lands ro­man­tic enough to make Sir Wal­ter Scott seem like Irvine Welsh.

Those of us able to make out the im­age de­spite the pre­dictably aw­ful, in­fu­ri­at­ingly murky 3D pro­jec­tion – see the flat ver­sion, I beg you – will cel­e­brate the gor­geously ver­dant and con­vinc­ingly damp backgrounds. The char­ac­ters are pow­ered by a class of ki­netic en­ergy that seems gen­uinely fleshy and or­ganic. The Jock­whack­ery (is that the word?) is not al­lowed to ex­ceed EU-dic­tated lev­els of na­tional stereo­typ­ing.

What’s not to like? Well, the mag­i­cal sub­plot feels a lit­tle thrown to­gether and per­func­tory. The film goes to the trou­ble of in­tro­duc­ing a fairly im­pres­sive witch and then al­lows that char­ac­ter to van­ish from the story. The pic­ture, though ex­cit­ing and daz­zling, doesn’t have any se­ri­ous emo­tional punch.

So, yes, Brave is eas­ily the best an­i­mated fea­ture of the year so far. But it’s not a mas­ter­piece. How dare they? Boo! Boo!

Set up a damp hill and down a wooded glen, Brave con­cerns the trou­bled goings on of a clan headed by the bluff, good-na­tured King Fer­gus (Billy Con­nolly, one of a con­sis­tently bril­liant voice cast). Merida (Kelly Macdon­ald), his wild, red-haired daugh­ter, is com­ing of age and, as is the tradition, he ar­ranges a com­pe­ti­tion to win her hand in mar­riage.

Much has been made of the fact that the pro­tag­o­nist – Pixar’s first fe­male lead – re­fuses to bow down to the pa­tri­archy and chooses to light out for the ter­ri­tory. In truth, it would, in this era, have been faintly shock­ing if any­thing else had hap­pened. But it’s fair to say that Merida proves a much grainier char­ac­ter – sharper, ruder, brighter – than any of Dis­ney’s re­cent princess hero­ines. She’s also prop­erly Scot­tish.

“Jings! Crivens! Help ma boab!” she ex­claims at one point. A trib­ute to the eter­nal comic strip Oor Wul­lie, per­haps? We salute you, your high­ness. You’re braw.

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