(alternative title: Disney Pixar’s Brave - review)
I’m a planner. Maybe I’m a control freak, but for now let’s stick with planner.
I’ve known my entire life that someday I would be a mom, and I knew exactly what kind of mom I would be: laid back, fun, free spirited, whimsical, hysterical. Yes, I fantasized that I would keep my future children in stitches.
In reality, I’m a complete nut job of a parent, and I don’t mean that in the delightfully charming way. I mean that in the I-already-know-my-children-will-need-therapy kind of way.
When the time was finally right to start a family, my husband and I planned the beginning of our journey so well that my due date actually fell during spring break, my maternity leave from teaching taking me exactly to the end of the school year. I daydreamed about how pleasant it would be to go for walks with my newborn in the perfect April weather and purchased 0 to 3 month clothes for the spring.
Then my daughter decided to commit her first act of defiance by arriving two months early. In February.
The clothes were wrong, the maternity leave was a nightmare, the production of Guys and Dolls that I was directing was in tech week and suddenly on hold, the plans were out the window. Gone.
And yet I didn’t learn my lesson. I read dozens of parenting books and drew conclusions about the Very Important Parenting Topics like how long my daughter would drink breast milk, when we would start solid foods, when we would allow her to watch television. These decisions became carved in stone and even as I drove my daughter to the geneticist and the cardiologist and watched as her little preemie body missed milestone after milestone in my Chart of Things Babies Do Correctly, I continued to try to plan and be a good mom. The right mom.
My daughter is now eight and in many ways my second child is saving us all by turning our world upside down with his energy and impulsivity. Yet I catch myself constantly trying to parent the way I believe I should, doing what is right and good and planned.
And I realize from time to time, in those moments when I catch a certain look on my daughter’s face or feel a stinging pang in my chest, that I am not the mom I planned to be. I have put living correctly over enjoying life.
I did not take my family to see a sneak peek of Disney Pixar’s new movie Brave expecting cathartic moments or mother-daughter bonding. Instead I expected to laugh at animated men in kilts and cheer for a princess whose crazy orange ringlets must be giving the Disney costume designers fits. And I did those things. I belly-laughed so hard at one point that the young reporter two seats over looked at me and feverishly took notes on his little pad of paper.
But I also caught him watching me as the tears rolled down my cheeks, soaking my chest as they flowed unfettered because my hands were clinging to my children on either side of me.
During one long scene near the end I found myself holding my daughter’s hand, wanting to jerk her out of her seat and away from danger, my chest tight with fear. I know I should assume that all will turn out fine in the end, but ever since Disney killed Raymond, I’m a bit less trusting. My daughter leaned over and let me know she was okay. I held her hand anyway. For me.
I will not be one of those bloggy spoilers and tell you anything more, but let me just say this. If you are a mother with a daughter – any age – go. Just go. You must see this movie.
And oh by the way, the rest of you should go, too, and here is why:
- Humor: While there are moments of cheap slapstick that sent my six year old son into fits of laughter and bawdy humor that played to my 12 year old boy sensibilities, there are also countless I’ve-been-there family situations that kept everyone in my family laughing.
- Beauty: I have been to Scotland numerous times, but the next time I go I want Disney to draw it. There is something absolutely magical about the way they capture the lush, green grass and the mysterious darkness of the forest. And Merida? Her hair alone should win the Disney Pixar team a shelf full of awards. Stunning. Absolutely stunning.
- Story-telling: As a former literature major, I’m a sucker for a good story, and Brave does not disappoint. I thought I knew what the movie was about before heading out to see it with my family, but there was so much more there, all of it woven together beautifully in a way that my children could follow and I could enjoy.
- Themes: Without giving too much away let me just say that the universal struggles captured inside the story of Merida’s quest to change her fate will speak to all of us.
- Adventure: Battles, magic, archery, racing horses, giant bears, angry Scotsman…enough adventure to get every heart racing.
Tickets for my family of four were provided. No other compensation was received. All opinions and parental mess-ups are my own.