Brave Movie Poster Image


Mother-daughter princess tale has some very scary scenes.
Popular with kids
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will pick up some stuff about Scotland: the culture, the clans, the ancient dress, the idea that noble girls were often forced to marry out of obligation and alliance rather than love. They will also learn a bit about Scottish lore regarding the druid witch and will o' the wisps.

Positive messages

Themes include communication, courage, and self-control. The movie focuses on how an at-odds mother and daughter can mend their relationship and learn from each other. A mother is fierce when it comes to defending her daughter, and vice versa. The way that Merida and Elinor work together is a beautiful tribute to the bond between mother and child. The movie also teaches the idea that "legends are lessons" -- stories that can teach us all about follies like pride, greed, and selfishness.

Positive role models

Merida is strong-willed, stubborn, and smart: She wants to find her own way in the world, not be tied to a suitor for betrothal before she's ready for marriage. While she's independent and brave, she does make a misguided decision about how to deal with her disagreement with her mother. Elinor has many of the same qualities she has trouble dealing with in her daughter. She's a kind, intelligent queen with a strong sense of duty and how she must comport herself. During their shared ordeal, both mother and daughter learn to think more like the other, and, as a result, they each change for the better. Many of the supporting characters -- especially the clan chiefs and their warriors -- are broadly caricatured for the sake of humor; they brawl constantly, make rude noises, etc.

Violence & scariness

There are several intense/scary scenes in Brave revolving around a giant, frightening bear; some of them may be too much for younger or more sensitive kids. The bear attacks King Fergus in the opening sequence (viewers learn that it tore off his leg; he has a wooden stump), and later it rages against Merida, Elinor, and the entire congregation of Scottish clansmen. Possible spoiler alert: Elinor's transformation into a bear is mostly funny, but in one scene that could upset younger kids, she becomes more bear than mother and growls menacingly at Merida. Young kids might also be frightened when the men (including Fergus) take arms against bear-Elinor and are set on killing her. The climactic battle between the bears and the clan gets very tense, especially when it looks like Merida or Elinor will be hurt. Some of the scenes with the witch may also be scary for kids -- she's mostly harmless, but her hut is spooky, and she comes off as creepy herself. The will o' the wisps are eerie and a bit ominous. The Scotsmen fight constantly, using both their bodies (hands, fists, teeth, feet) and weapons (swords, arrows, etc.) on their opponents.

Sexy stuff

Fergus and Elinor are an affectionate married couple; he smacks her on the bum, and, later, when she's naked under a sheet (nothing is seen below her neck), he stares at her until she reminds him that others are around, too. The men are naked under their kilts, and in a couple of scenes, animated naked rear ends (both of adult men and young boys) are briefly glimpsed. A housemaid has ample cleavage.

Not applicable

Although there are no product placements in the actual film, Brave already has much merchandise available: dolls, costumes, apps, storybooks, a soundtrack, video games, apparel, and more.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The Scotsmen gather in the castle for a feast before it devolves into a brawl, and there are steins of drink, presumably some sort of mead or ale, but it's not referenced, and no one is represented as drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Brave is pretty scary for a "princess movie," especially for kids under 7 and/or those who are very sensitive to peril. Several intense sequences involve a large angry bear that attacks the main characters -- which are even more so when seen in 3-D -- and (possible spoiler alert) a possibly disturbing but mostly comical transformation of a mother into a bear. A moment when the mom-turned-bear temporarily forgets she's human and growls at her daughter could upset younger kids. There's also a lot of brawling among the Scotsmen, who use both weapons (arrows, swords, etc.) and their bodies (fists, teeth) on each other. The first Pixar movie to revolve around a female main character, Brave does have a strong message about family relationships and open communication between parents and kids (particularly mothers and daughters). There's no romance for Princess Merida, but you can expect a few jokes about men being naked under their kilts; a couple of scenes even include quick glimpses of naked cartoon bums belonging to men and three young boys. Although there are no product placements in the movie, there's a ton of Brave merchandise available, particularly aimed at girls.

What's the story?

BRAVE is Pixar's first feature with a female main character, and Merida isn't your typical princess. Brought up in the Scottish kingdom of DunBroch, Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) would rather sling her arrows than learn the proper etiquette befitting a future queen. When the realm's three other clans arrive to present their leaders' firstborn sons as potential suitors for betrothal, Merida rebels against her regal mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), and runs away to the forest. Following a will o' the wisp, Merida encounters a witch (Julie Walters) who conjures a magical cake to "change the queen." But when the queen eats the magical treat, it's not her mind that changes; she (possible spoiler alert!) transforms into a giant black bear -- exactly like the bear that took the "Bear King" Fergus' (Billy Connolly) leg a decade earlier. With her mother a bear and her father on the hunt, Merida must find out how to break the spell before her mother stays a bear forever -- or worse, is killed by the king and his men.

Is it any good?


This movie a great mother-daughter tale -- it's just not quite the warrior princess story you might have hoped for. There's still a lot to love about Brave. The animation is breathtaking -- particularly Merida's blazing red curls, which are so detailed that you can imagine touching them strand by mesmerizing strand. But there's also the lush green and blue landscapes, the dark and majestic interiors, the haunting light of the blue will o' the wisps luring Merida deeper into the forest. And for once, a princess story stays centered on the princess' personal development rather than her romantic prospects. Plus, the acting is superb, thanks to the mostly Scottish ensemble unleashing their heaviest brogues. Most voice actors record their parts separately, so it's remarkable how beautifully Thompson and Macdonald interact. The emotion between mother and daughter is remarkably genuine and believably fraught; even when Elinor is in bear form, she's still fussing at Merida to get her weapon off their makeshift dinner table.

The only problem with Brave is that it doesn't quite live up to Pixar's own record of originality and sophistication. There's nothing terribly out of this world about the story -- it's simple and sweet but not "never seen before" like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, or WALL-E. And Merida, for all of her virtues, is still very much a self-absorbed teen trying to find the easy answer to her problems (relying on a spell to change your mother's mind is a hilariously bound-to-fail idea). Is it leagues above most other animated films in terms of artistry? Yes. Is Merida a worthy alternative to the stereotypical princess? Absolutely. But this isn't among Pixar's best, and that's a tiny bit of a disappointment.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what kind of princess Merida is in Brave. How does she compare to the other Disney princesses? How is her story similar to and different from theirs? This could be the first princess movie in which there's no romance. What do you think of the shift in focus from love story to mother-and-daughter tale? Do you think that makes Brave more appealing to more people?

  • Kids: Did you find the movie scary? How does it compare to other princess/animated movies you've seen?

  • How do the characters in Brave demonstrate communication, courage, and self-control? Why are these important character strengths?

  • Brave has strong female role models, but what about the men/boys? Which male characters do you think are portrayed as role models?

  • Kids: What made you want to see this movie -- the story, or all the product tie-ins? Do kids want a product because Merida is pictured on it?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 22, 2012
DVD/Streaming release date:November 13, 2012
Cast:Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kelly Macdonald
Directors:Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews
Studio:Pixar Animation Studios
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Princesses and fairies, Adventures
Character strengths:Communication, Courage, Self-control
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some scary action and rude humor
Awards/Honors:Academy Award, Golden Globe

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byteeks125 June 22, 2012

HUGE disappointment, and not what it seems :(

Sooo disappointed! If you have seen the previews, then you have essentially seen the first 15 minutes or so of the movie (which I thought looked really cute)... after that it takes a weird twist and the rest of the movie is about witches, spirits, evil bears, etc. My daughter and her 8 year old friends had their eyes covered for a good portion of the movie and ended up sitting on laps because they were too scared. If we weren't there with friends, we would have walked out. Any message about mother-daughter bonding is superficial at best, and almost completely lost in all of the dark, scary parts. On top of that, the character development was poor (and largely non-existent for anyone but the main character), and the storyline was choppy. There were also quite a few naked hineys in the movie, which might bother some parents. We were so excited about this movie that we went to the midnight showing, but we felt like it was not at all what it seemed. We went with a couple other families and they all felt the same, so I don't think it was just us. Even my daughter said she would not want to watch it again (she said she would rather watch Tangled). Some people might rate it as "OK," but I would be surprised to see anyone rate this as a great movie. Personally, I wish I would have just stayed home and gotten a couple more hours of sleep!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent Written bymonroemomma June 22, 2012

Brave is Definitely PG!!

My 5 & 7 YO daughters hated our trip to the cinema today! They told me they'd have 'nightmares for seven weeks!' over this movie. Why, oh why do studios market PG movies to little children?! My kids spent more time with their faces buried under the crooks of my arms than they did looking at the screen. I spent more time assuring them that the king wouldn't accidentally kill his wife--the mother of the heroine--before the end of the movie. "I PROMISE, it *will* have a happy ending!" x12. It's a pretty movie. The storyline for "How To Train Your Dragon" was way better. I'm disappointed because Pixar (et al) had a flame-haired opportunity to shine, to really develop that non-traditional heroine character. They did not do that, but they still turned in a decent bit of entertainment.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written bydgjazz June 23, 2012

Disney Has Lost Their Mind

Disney has lost their mind. This movie should be PG13, although I do think it's ok for a 9 or 10 year old. But if you are expecting your normal Pixar Disney film, you aren't going to get it here. Why Disney would want to make a violent film that scares children, I have no idea. I expect more from them than cheap scare tactics for shock value. Usually when Disney has violence in their movies, there is humor to break it up. (For example the old man in Up fighting with his walker). Brave has none of that. We've gotten to the point that animation is so real looking that when a bear gets shot up with 20 arrows, you might as well see a real bear getting shot up with 20 arrows. I would put the violence level at the Spiderman movies or Pirates of the Caribbean. The difference is bears are real and kids know that superheroes and pirates aren't. Have fun taking your little one on a nature hike in a National Park after watching this movie. I just wish I would have walked out when I first felt uncomfortable, but I kept trusting Disney that it was only one scene. The fault is my own. If a movie isn't G, you really need to read about it first. Even if it has the Disney and Pixar name. They have no right marketing a movie like this on Disney Junior when it's clearly geared to a 10 year old. Up until now, PG Disney movies like Up, The Incredibles, and Bolt haven't tried to scare children, so I didn't think I had any reason to worry about the PG rating. Boy was I wrong.
What other families should know
Too much violence