This last weekend my family and I decided to go see “Brave”. Being an avid Pixar fan I was very excited to see their latest feature length motion picture that did not have anything to do with anthropomorphic cars. However, as soon as the movie was over I quickly went to my iPhone, pulled up the IMDB app and did a fast search for Brave. The reason being was I wanted to double check to see who made the film. Was it Pixar Animation Studios or was it Walt Disney Animation Studios. You see, most people don’t really know the difference. They see the Disney logo at the beginning of a movie and think it all comes from the same place. Wrong. Movies like “Bolt” & “Tangled” came from WAS located in Burbank while others like “Toy Story”, “Monster’s Inc.” and “Finding Nemo” came from PAS located in Emeryville. Two different companies, both owned by Walt Disney Pictures, but two completely different animation studios. I had to check this because “Brave”, for some reason, did not feel at all like a Pixar film.
Now don’t get me wrong. Brave was fun, well animated and an all around pretty solid movie. But because Pixar as a company set the bar so high with successes like the Toy Story Franchise, Finding Nemo and Wall-E, even a good movie from them can stand out like a sore thumb from the rest of the collection. It took me a day or two to process reasons why this may have happened and I have come up with the three facts that point towards Brave fitting in more with the Disney princesses than the Pixar gang.
1) Originality At An All-Time Low (for Lasseter & the Gang)
Pixar movies have all been completely unique stories set in completely original worlds with stories that will most likely become the new fairytales for children in the distant future. Toy Story, Monster’s Inc., A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, all films that have no basis in any previous fantasy worlds with brand new characters no one has ever met before. On top of that the stories were unpredictable and filled with twists and surprises. Brave sort of missed that mark completely. A medieval world with a princess unhappy with her lot in life gets help from a witch in the forest. As far as stories go that has been done a million times and is a much safer story than Pixar usually attempts to tackle. Add all that to a very predictable story that, as an adult, left you wanting more and you have a movie that, even though it was made by the genius animators of Pixar, never truly lifted off.
2) Too Much Reality, Not Enough Escape
Brave did something that few to maybe no other Pixar movies had ever done. They based the story around real humans and real animals. A lot of people will read that and go, “Wait, both ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Ratatouille’ had humans and there are plenty of Pixar movies filled top the brim with animals.” The difference between those movies and Brave is that Brave may have had animals but in their movie they made it a very strong point to point out the whimsy involved with anthropomorphizing them. “Oh look, a human turned into a bear! How odd! Now she’s fumbling with her crown! That’s so silly. You know, because bears don’t wear crowns.” On top of that, their main character was a plain old human. No super powers, no fantasy quirks. The only other character that has been like that was in Up and he at least had the absurd idea of flying to South America in a house floating by balloons.
3) Where’s The Tension
Probably the biggest difference between Brave and the rest of Pixar’s movie collection was a clear change in writing styles resulting in very little suspense, flat dialogue and a sub-par amount of humor. When your company has created characters like Dory the fish, Wall-E the robot, Buzz Lightyear the action figure and Mike Wazowski the monster you really can’t get away with having an entire film without a single character standing out as the next genius fictional creation. If not for Billy Connolly breaking the films staleness every once in a while there really wouldn’t have been much to look forward to throughout the movie. Lets face it, between The Hunger Games & The Avengers, we’ve all already gotten our fill of bow and arrow toting protagonists this Summer.
Lets face it, after the wreck that was Cars 2 we were all dearly looking forward to Pixar getting back its roots with an original non-sequel film that was going to bring us all back to the old days at the studio. Unfortunately, Brave just wasn’t the film to do that. And with their next two releases being Finding Nemo in 3D and the sequel to Monster’s Inc. it looks like we’re going to have to wait a lot longer for another chance.