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Why the Brave Disney Movie is Better For Older Kids

The Brave Disney Movie opened to high acclaim and cheers from critics. But not this one. Brave was not the movie for me. Proceed with caution if your children are under 8 years-old. UPDATED 9/18/2019

It’s no secret that I love Disney. I was born and raised in Florida, just under two hours from the parks and I love the toys, the TV channel and the movies. I’m a huge fan.

That said, sometimes even a huge fan has to make some hard choices for the sake of her children. So when I knew I had to be brave to write my Brave movie review, I took a deep breath and went for it.

What I am about to say is not popular opinion. And I almost hesitate to share it. But as a mother with young children (boys at that), I want to share my honest opinion about Brave. And the truth is, I did not love the latest Disney/Pixar movie.

Why the Brave Disney movie isn't for young kids

I am about to share some major spoilers for this animated feature so if you don’t want to be spoiled, please feel free to click away from this post and read about all the things I DO love about Disney here.

For the rest of us, let’s get down to it.

Brave Disney Movie Review

Here is the official BRAVE synopsis:

“Brave” follows the heroic journey of Merida, a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane).

Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources – including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers – to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late, discovering the meaning of true bravery.

First of all, this movie is rated PG. It never even occurred to me to check the rating because with the exception of The Incredibles and UP, every Pixar film made since 1995 has been G rated.

Thankfully, because our screening was at night, my husband and I decided to leave our (3.5 year old and almost 1 year old) boys at home to check out the latest animated film from the house of Walt Disney.

So I will start with the obvious. Because of its well-deserved PG rating, I do not recommend this movie for children under age 8.

It is my opinion that the story was significantly more mature than prior Pixar movies (such as Toy Story) and there were several intensely frightening scenes including vicious fights between man and beast (ie. a giant blood-thirsty bear).

Mature Fight Scenes in Brave

There were a few moments in the fight scenes that really stood out to me. One fight in particular is between two bears. In the climax of their battle, several seconds are spent in close up of one bear slamming the other into a large rock repeatedly, violently, graphically.

It was not a flash in the pan arrow to the leg, or even a flying bullet. It was up-close, physical violence. I don’t care that there was a good reason for the fight. It disturbed me.

There is no doubt that Princess Merida and her mother both had lessons to learn. And while I appreciated the relational struggle between mother and daughter, it seemed more appropriate for the tween crowd rather than the typical Pixar audience which tends to be of the elementary set, if not younger.

I can definitely see how this movie could prompt some really thought provoking conversations between moms and daughters, but for the young ones I don’t think it would even make sense.

We love that Merida is different from the other Disney princesses, but there were so many unnecessary distractions, it was hard to focus on that one positive note.

Gender Stereotyping is not so Brave

I am glad there was a two-parent home featured in this movie. However, I was greatly disturbed at the depiction of Merida’s bumbling, goofball father whose only purpose seemed to be comic relief or brute force – a male stereotype that has been increasingly present in mainstream media in the past couple of decades.

Believe me when I say that I truly loved the empowering female lead characters in both Merida and Queen Elinor. But why did they have to come at the expense of the male characters?

As the mother of two boys, I want to encourage them to be leaders, to be companions of the women in their lives. But from the idiot-fathers to the dimwitted princes (none of whom were even remotely desirable), to the trouble-making triplets, there is not a single male character in this movie that I would want my sons to emulate.

Not a single one.

And I think that is why my overall opinion of this movie is just not good. I was viewing it through the eyes of my boys. My sons who will one day grow to be men.

And just like we need more movies to inspire our women, we should not just allow the pendulum to swing the other way. We are setting the bar for the future of both our sons and our daughters. Why are we aiming so low?

I wish I could base my opinion on the design because Brave was a spectacular visual feast. The animation was positively breathtaking and even thrilling at times.

I am sad to say that it will not be a family classic in this house.

For more opinions of the Brave Disney movie from both sides, please check out the following links:

Scott Mendelson – Brave (2012) Is Pixar’s Most Impersonal and Least Consequential Film and a More Troubling Failure Than Cars 2

Rage Against the Minivan – BRAVE: A Parent’s Guide to Disney/Pixar’s new Movie

Musings from Me – A Lady Does-ny Stuff Her Gob! #Brave

FREE Printable Activity sheets for the Brave Disney movie fans

I received free passes to attend an advanced screening of Brave. All thoughts are my own.

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Sarah

Sunday 19th of March 2017

I'm going to assume then that you don't watch the Lion King either. The straight up murder of Mufasa and the end battle between Simba & Scar are far more traumatizing then the bear fights in Brave.

Bruce

Saturday 27th of February 2016

My sentiments as well! As a parent of 3 children, 2 girls and 1 boy, I want my children to have positive views of both sexes. This movie showed how courageous and resilient women can be but as you mentioned did not have a single decent make role model - rather quite the opposite. It bothered me greatly to say the least. It also seems to be indicative of the trend in almost all sitcoms and cartoons - try to find a string, ethical make role model, and you'll be searching very hard with very little success. What an indictment on today's "popular" views of society. --Happy to generalize and then blame the idiocity of [all] men and happy to keep it that way [without providing them actual role models]. It looks and smells like an agenda. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Andrea Updyke

Thursday 24th of March 2016

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. It's pretty incredible to see how strongly people feel about the film (in either direction). On the other hand, we LOVED Inside Out so it's nice to see there is something for everyone.

Outraged Girl At Heart

Thursday 3rd of October 2013

Me and my boyfriend saw the movie (last year) and to my surprise, the movie scared the socks off of me due to the excessive amounts of violence (especially the bear). Disney has had some bits of violence in other movies, which I could tolerate (violence in the other films wasn't excessive); however, Brave went way too far with the amounts of violence and even the excessive bits of nudity from the boys constantly showing their bare butts. This movie was seriously misrated and should have gone to a PG-13. Even the younger children (up to 10 yrs. old) in the theater were crying, sitting on their parents' laps, and even wanting to go outside for a few minutes. After the scenes got too intense, me and my bf decided to walk out of the movie. That was the biggest and most disappointing afternoon at the movies I have ever had. I might be an adult; however, I do want to watch a family-oriented movie without excessive amounts of violence and nudity sometimes. I will not watch it again nor will I rent it. I hope Disney/Pixar has some better ideas for children's movies without the excessive violence and nudilty.

Michelle

Wednesday 3rd of July 2013

If you knew anything about the heritage portrayed in this movie you would realize how ignorant you sound.

Rasha

Friday 1st of February 2013

Thanks Andrea for the review. I was screening through itunes trying to download interesting movies for my 3 year old to watch on a 17 hour journey. I don't have the luxury of watching it before I let my son do, as I am very tight on time and I also have a 1 year to manage. I kept sifting through reviews that said how amazing the movie is but none of them addressed my concerns as a parent carefully screening media for my 3 year old for developing role models and trying to exclude violence. Without watching the movie you have targeted every single one of my concerns and so sadly I will not purchase it for my son, but that doesn't mean I can't watch it for own pleasure in the future when I have time :)

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Andrea

Friday 1st of February 2013

I'm so glad you stopped by! Yes, for the older kids I don't think it will be an issue. And the animation really is great so definitely check it out for yourself at some point!

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