Watched Jun 28, 2012
Marcin Wichary’s review:
To me, a big part of the experience of moviegoing is coming to the theatre early. Talking to your friends about your expectations, or sitting by yourself, knowing absolutely nothing about the movie. Watching the audience trickle in. The inane on-screen quizzes. The more and more surreal “turn off your phones” videos. The distributor logos you know by heart. The movie trailers. And, in the case of Pixar, the short before the movie.
The warning signs about Cars 2 were there early, in form of the mediocre Toy Story short, just as generic of a cash-in as the feature film that followed it. “Don’t judge a Pixar movie by its opening short,” said a stranger in the movie theatre that day, and not so long ago we didn’t have to – both the movies and their five-minute companions were universally terrific.
This is now the thing of the past. My expectations for Brave were rather low, since the previous movie was awful, and the trailers looked bad. But even though the short was good (very good), the newest production is not quite Pixar’s return to its former glory.
No, it’s not an unmitigated disaster either and there are things to love about the movie. The protagonist is wonderful and believable, and the story more inventive than you might want to give it credit for. Brave is rarely not breathtaking visually (except for shoddily rendered water), consistently full of energy, and you grow to genuinely care about the characters the same way you cared about Woody or Nemo. And the hair, that hair! Did you imagine ever loving someone’s hair in a movie? Brave might surprise you.
So might something else, though – but let’s rewind one more time. Part of an experience of watching a Pixar movie is enduring half a dozen trailers for animated features from competing studios. They’re almost always just wannabes, cargo cults, copying the superficial from Pixar without understanding the heart of its movies. But this time around, Brave seems to be among those too: I was amazed at how full it was of unnecessary slapstick moments, crude humour and cheap physical comedy.
None of these seemed necessary and the more I think about them, the sadder I become. Another trailer before Brave was for Monsters University – a seemingly American Pie-tinged sequel to Monsters, Inc. – and it worried me for the exact same reasons. I’m hoping it’s just a phase. Brave was still fun to watch, but this is not Pixar I grew to love.