Something obviously went very wrong @ Pixar on this one; and it went wrong at conception. You can feel all those creative minds (and multiple directors) trying to coax it to life, but the narrative stubbornly plays out like a series of second-guesses that could improve, but never quite fix the basic problem. Our lead, Princess Merida, a modern-thinking tomboy rebel type (a concept that must seem tired even to pre-teens), refuses to choose from three possible suitors. Instead, she finds a witch, buys a potion, and winds up turning Mom into a monstrous bear, just like the one who cost Dad his leg back in the day. This isn’t a story; it’s a Freudian castration substitution nightmare! Dark as this is, the film fights off all implications with modestly successful comic busyness, but the underdeveloped characters and unwieldy animation designs are equally problematic. Only the impeccable background design team lives up to expectations. (Along with Merida’s springy red tresses.)
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: That’s Kelly Macdonald, the gangster’s wife from BOARDWALK EMPIRE, behind the vocals for Princess Merida. But she also might be behind the visuals for Queen Elinor. Emma Thompson does the voice, but the face is all Macdonald.