I haven’t gone out to the movies to see an animated feature since I was very young, although there have been some great ones in recent years.  This summer, previews for “Brave” came along and it looked like the most adorable animated movie.  I didn’t get to see it at my usual theater, so I was glad for the screening of the medieval Scottish animated story at my college campus.  It was part of a family weekend in which current students as well as alumni could come together as a larger community, sharing our Cabrini College spirit.

Clashing with her mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson), Merida (Kelly Macdonald) wants to live her own life with archery prowess.  Under a heap of fiery red spiraling tresses,  Merida is rebellious in nature and like a teenager in real life, feels the burden of her mother’s nagging spiel of proper behavior.  Running from her mother’s insistent plans for Merida to marry, only more trouble ensues after she returns from the forest with a witch’s spell.  Merida wanted her mother to change her mind about the marriage plans; the spell goes beyond and causes an unforeseen transformation.

Merida’s challenge, in helping to save her mother, inadvertently brings about a stronger sense of leadership as a princess.  Earlier on, Merida is coached by her mother in the ways of properly addressing a crowd as she’ll one day be expected to do.  As the story advances, Merida herself changes from wild and carefree, shrugging off royal responsibility, to a more humbled character.  She even has to defend her mother from her bear-hunting father, Fergus (Billy Connolly), until he realizes what has happened due to the spell.  By then, not only has Elinor been taken by the spell, but so have Merida’s mischievous younger triplet brothers.

There are so many things that audiences could connect with at any age.  Who hasn’t wanted their parents to hear them out and understand them?  Who hasn’t felt the need to live life on their terms or change something about their lives, just as Merida desires?  In reality, people also often wish for one thing or another, only for that wish to backfire or go too far.  The movie also has a message of making peace with someone, which many people wish to do after a falling out.  Merida thinks its too late for the spell to be broken; in real life, when people want to mend a relationship, it is often important to do so before it’s too late.

Along with those more dramatic message, the tale of Merida and her family is filled with many laughs.  Merida’s wide-eyed expressions and subtle moments of rebellion, her brothers’ crazy antics are just a few of the comedic elements in “Brave.”  In her own motherly way, Elinor brings laughs as she tries to keep Merida on a traditional path in life.  Fergus, as well as kilted warriors from various Scottish clans, also bring their share of great hilarity within the walls of Merida’s family castle.

The movie also features voices of Julie Walters, Craig Ferguson and John Ratzenberger, according to IMDB.  If you follow award season predictions, check out Gold Derby editors’ Oscar favorites among this year’s animated features to see where “Brave” stands.  I’m definitely rooting for this enchanting movie filled with beautiful animated Scottish scenery.  Such scenes of castles perched on rugged land, surrounded by forests hiding mysterious ruins and ancient stone sites inspires a trip to Scotland.