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“Brave” an Instant Classic with a Timeless Message

Skip Sheffield

Though “Brave” is set in 10th century Scotland, it is dedicated to the contemporary memory of Apple innovator Steve Jobs, who bought the studio in 1986 and sold it to Disney in 2006. That alone should tell you this first Pixar-Disney CG 3-D animated fairy tale is no ordinary children’s story.

“Brave” is quite extraordinary as a matter of fact. For one thing it has a strong young female hero, Princess Merida, an expert archer voiced by Kelly Macdonald. For another, Merida is a defiant feminist, who does not want to follow the dictates of her tradition-bound mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). It comes as no surprise the story was written by a woman, Brenda Chapman, who originally was set to direct as well (Mark Andrews was ultimately tapped as director).

It was Merida’s genial father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) who unwittingly sowed the seeds of rebellion when Merida was a young girl by giving her a bow and arrows for her birthday.

When Merida defies her mother by declaring an archery competition to win her hand, then humiliates the young suitors, the family fabric is rent both physically and metaphorically.

“Brave” is much darker than typical children’s fare, and some parts of it toward the dramatic finale may frighten wee ones.

The violent action is lightened with much physical levity (love Merida’s three little red-headed brothers). The underlying message about the sanctity of family and the healing power of forgiveness add an almost biblical weight. “Legends are lessons,” we are told. Although this legend is brand new, it rings of eternal truth. Don’t miss the charming opening short, “La Luna.”

Four stars

“Safety Not Guaranteed”

in Time-Travel Romance

“Safety Not Guaranteed” may be the first time-travel romantic fantasy ever based on a newspaper want ad.

Derek Connolly won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance Film Festival for a story inspired by an actual ad: “Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid when we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed.”

Time-travel has been the stuff of fantasy even before H.G. Wells and Jules Verne in the 19th century. “Safety Not Guaranteed” is a modern hipster spinoff, set in scenic Ocean View, Washington.

Kenneth Calloway (Mark Duplass), an eccentric, somewhat paranoid, possibly brilliant young man, placed the ad. A young Seattle magazine reporter, Jeff (Jake M. Johnson) and two green interns Arnau (Karan Soni) and Darius (Aubrey Plaza) set out on a possible wild goose chase to see if Kenneth is for real.

Director Colin Trevorrow has a wonderfully light touch and balance between absurd comedy and touching, budding romance. It helps that Mark Duplass andAubrey Plaza are adorable together and we want to believe them.

Yes, ultimately “Safety Not Guaranteed” is an effective date flick. You may want to ponder what romance has ever been safe- or life itself for that matter.




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