Basically it’s like that often-giffed scene of Thor where he slams the coffee cup on the ground emphatically. “I want another!”
Yes, world, I want more movies like this. Animated movies, kids’ movies, not animated, not kids’ movies, whatever. Any movie like this. Please. By “like this,” I of course mean “about female characters and yet 100% sans romance.” (Because while there aren’t a lot of movies completely sans romance, even about guys, a lot of predominantly guy-starring movies do have the one token woman popping up in the background to appear as a love interest. Which is a whole other kind of sigh.)
I’ve read a lot of the internet commentary on this film, and it got me pretty cranky even before seeing the film. Really? Really, just because she doesn’t want to get married and she likes archery, she’s a lesbian? Wow, that is the most ridiculous convoluted logic. That’s like Betty Draper in season three, episode one of Mad Men observing Sally: “she’s taken to your tools like a little lesbian.” I’m sure there are still people who think like that, but it’s alarming how many of them seem to be journalists writing about this movie.
Let me just say that honestly, I loved this damn movie. It warmed my heart in many ways, actually not unlike how My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic sort of warms my heart by now. This was a nice story about women, about mothers and daughters and how sometimes people think tradition is best and then they learn otherwise because of reasons and how you find strength in yourself and sometimes doing the right thing is just talking to people and opening up about your feelings and that is strong too.
This was not a movie devoid of men. There were plenty of male characters. Sure, a lot of them were occasionally bumbling in and largely served the purpose of moving the plot along. Hey, but guess who was actually sort of cool sometimes? King Fergus, Merida’s dad. He was pretty cool. He did the badass king thing, but pfft, you know that Queen Elinor helped run that show totally. He was like “hey, Merida, you want to have bows and arrows and stuff? Here, have some.” He cracked jokes with her while her suitors tried to suit.
And yes, at first Queen Elinor was all “hey, Merida, get married kthnx.” But you know what, I don’t fault her for that. Because not everyone inherently challenges the way things are done, and you know what, she just wasn’t that person. That was how things were done, so of course she was doing it, and she wanted Merida to do it too, because that’s how it was. But as the film progressed, she learned that hey, you know what, not everyone likes to do things in the same way. Traditions aren’t always good for everyone. Individuals are different and have individual opinions about things, and “what is best for someone” is subjective!
I am just so freaking happy that they didn’t shoehorn Merida into some halfassed romance. There were so many chances to turn it into “I said I didn’t want to get married, but loljk” and, like, Katniss Everdeen her. (Yes, I just turned that into a verb.) And they took none of them. Merida is a smart girl. The speech she gave to her horse about how she just wasn’t ready to get married and maybe she never would be and so what, that was beautiful. I mean, not all princesslikecharacters with romances are tiresome. I’m totally okay with, for example, the awkward romance in Mulan, because it’s got sort of an As You Like It/Twelfth Night/”even when I thought you were a dude” quality to it. Anastasia loved Dimitri, but she still saved her own damn day. Belle only started to feel for the Beast once he stopped being a d-bag and made efforts to behave politely toward her. Etcetera. But Merida didn’t need a romance, and Merida didn’t have a romance, and that’s okay. That’s more than okay. That’s awesome and rare, not just in princess movies, in movies a lot of the time, or TV, or literature, or theatre.
And it was just because she wasn’t ready. She wasn’t up for marriage yet. Not because she hated all men (sure, she made snarky comments about the suitors and rolled her eyes, but she rolled her eyes at other people too and I get the feeling she’s the type to roll her eyes at people in general). Not because of any reason other than a personal knowledge that this just wasn’t for her yet or maybe ever. Which is a good thing to know, because knowing yourself is important and good! And that, that is a good moral message for the kids and for everyone.
Also I love Kelly Macdonald always. And Emma Thompson, and surprise Craig Ferguson, and surprise Kevin McKidd.
–your fangirl heroine.