|by C.J. Chase
First, a couple words about PIXAR. I love this company's movies. PIXAR has made its name by focusing first and foremost on story. Before special effects or animation or anything else, a movie (like a book) must tell a rousing good story. This is where PIXAR consistently excels. Consider that they have yet to produce a flop. Yeah, C.J. has some serious writer envy going on.
Years ago I read a wonderful article about PIXAR's company culture that places story above all else. (I'd link to it, but it was so long ago, I'm not sure it exists on the Internet.) When PIXAR writers turned in the first version of Toy Story 3, the company head honcho tossed out the script. Completely. The story wasn't strong enough. (When PIXAR finally made a third installment of their Toy Story franchise, it became the highest grossing animated film in history and only the third animated film nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. Coincidence? Um, probably not.)
PIXAR produced Brave in partnership with Disney. While Brave is appropriate for children (note: very young may find the fight scene at the end intense), the moral aims straight at teenagers and their parents.
Princess Merida's mother, the queen, harbors definite ideas about how a princess should look and behave. But Merida, as is often typical of young people, has her own ideas of what she wants for her future. The two talk past each other but never listen to each other.
The widening rift leads Merida to run away to the forest where she encounters a witch. Witches cast spells, right? Merida purchases a spell to change her mother.
But she gets more than she expected. (Note to teenagers, if you want your parents to change, be specific.) Now Merida and her mother must find a way to change Mom back before the spell becomes permanent. The witch provides a single clue:
Fate be changed
Mend the bond
Torn by pride
Brave has a fabulous score of Celtic themed music (yes, including bagpipes) by Patrick Doyle. Doyle has been a favorite of mine since his 1989 collaboration with Kenneth Branagh in Henry V. The movie also has numerous laugh-out-loud jokes poking gentle fun at haggis, kilts, and all things Scottish.
I took a poll in the car on the way home, and the Chase family consensus was 4.5 stars. We all agreed that it was a bit predictable and lacked the emotional punch of Up and Toy Story 3. But it's a PIXAR production and still better than most movies out there.
After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her next book, The Reluctant Earl, will be available in February of 2013. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at www.cjchasebooks.com