Monday, June 25, 2012

Suburbs of Our Discontent

I know that I dumped a little bit on Disney a few weeks ago for happy-ing up Shakespeare's Hamlet storyline with "The Lion King," but I'm going to give it a hand now for "Brave."

There's been a lot of talk in the news about how great it is that "Brave" empowers girls to do things like excel in archery and stand up for not being pawns in their culture's marriage games. And that is all fabulous (although after reading We Need to Talk About Kevin,  I'm not feeling so high on giving kids bows and arrows).

But nothing says, "I'm happy to shell out $20 for a kid's movie" like a good Love-And-Respect-Your-Mother moral to the story.  With "Brave," Disney has broken both its own and Shakespeare's trend of killing off mothers from the start, or blaming them for everything.

I won't spoil it for those of you who look forward to these things (and, look, there are a lot of long summer days ahead with the kids, so I'm not judging you)--let's just say that I'm glad moms are finally getting some respect. Elinor, the mom in the movie, is like a mix of  Lady Capulet (but with a three-dimensional, sympathetic makeover); Hermione (who's still in danger of being killed by her husband, but who doesn't have to wait 16 years before returning to her old self and reuniting with her daughter);  and Gertrude (now allowed to be attracted to her husband).

I'm not saying this movie is breaking new ground on all fronts.  Scottish stereotypes abound (naked male butts for the "Captain Underpants" boy crowd, just to name one example); and Princess Merida has a head of hair that would cripple any real girl. But nice job on giving us moms our day, Disney.

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