Last Friday afternoon, as a way to escape the oppressive heat and lift all our spirits a bit after the demise of our poor, elderly cat (more to lift Alastair’s and my spirits’ as the girls were pretty nonplussed by the whole thing), we decided to see the new Pixar flick, Brave.
It was a total spur of the moment decision, and the girls — Elsa in particular — were excited beyond belief. She was practically leaping through the lobby of the theater, chattering on and on about how happy she was, and look! There’s a poster of the movie! And look, there’s a picture of those little red-headed triplets! I saw them on a commercial for this movie when we went to another movie! And can we get popcorn? And guess how excited I am? (Me: really, really excited?) No, super-duper really REALLY excited infinity!!
Spontaneous as the choice was, I had read this excellent review of the movie on HuffPo parents to make sure it would be appropriate for our girls. Elsa is a wee bit sensitive when it comes to scary parts of movies. According tho the review, it seemed like the only parts of the movie that might be tough would be the parts with the predatory bear(s). (Bears in Scotland. Who knew?) But the fact that the author of the review had taken her five-year-olds and even a three-year-old was reassuring.
So we gave the girls a pep talk in the car on the way about how there might be some scary / stressful parts, so they’d have to be brave. (Just like the heroine! Maybe?) But they could hack it. They were almost big ole kindergarteners now.
Things started off well. After, like, endless previews — and a lovely Pixar short called La Luna — the movie got rolling, and it was gorgeous and funny and well-written. The princess at the center of the story, Merida, (oddly close to mierda, no?) was smart and feisty and flawed, and she’s got fantastic hair.
Except for a brief bear incident right at the beginning of the movie (which was over quickly) all was well. We were having a rollicking good time.
But then…well. Then there were more bears.
First, it was a somewhat non-scary bear thing — it would be a spoiler to elaborate — but this was too much for her to handle. So Alastair took her out of the theater for a bit. Which meant, of course, that Clio felt like leaving, too. (I don’t think she was that scared, but the power of suggestion is strong…) We were able to bring them back in for a little while. (See? That part is over. It’s not so bad, right? Subtext: Mommy and Daddy are enjoying this, AND we just dropped 40 bucks on tickets.)
But then, not too much later, there was some seriously scary shit with a bear happening. I mean, this was one mean mofo of a bear. And Elsa started sobbing hysterically and yelling “I want to go home! I want to go home!”
So we left the theater. (Once Elsa had calmed down a bit she said, “I don’t want to see that movie until I’m a teenager or a grown-up!”)
Now. Does this mean that Brave isn’t appropriate for your preschool-aged kids? Not necessarily. Like I said, Elsa has always been very sensitive when it comes to scary or even stressful parts of movies. Which means that the grand majority of Disney / Pixar movies — hell, all kids movies — are a gamble for us. Even the new Winnie The Pooh was too scary for her.
But she doesn’t usually start sobbing hysterically. I think part of the issue, in addition to the scariness of bears as a species (like Elsa and Stephen Colbert, I also find bears rather terrifying) was how loud the sound was in the theater, which made everything that much more intense. In fact, even during the previews and the non-scary parts of the movie the girls had their hands over their ears for much of the time. I would have asked the management to turn the sound down, but I assume everything’s pretty much automated now, right?
Regardless of sound levels, though, I’d say if you’ve got kids who are sensitive to scary stuff — particularly of the monster/carnivorous beast variety — you might want to at least wait until the movie’s out on DVD, for the small screen, less intense, no chance of wasting money on tickets experience.
Although, on that last score, we actually did have a happy, Disney-worthy ending: On our way out of the theater, Alastair — holding a red-faced, blankie-clutching Elsa — went to the customer service desk and told them that we hadn’t made it through the movie. He knew it was a long-shot that they’d give us a rain check or a refund, but figured what the hell. And I’m so glad he did: without him having to even ask, the girl behind the counter said she’d be glad to give us a full refund. No questions asked.
And we all lived happily ever after. (Unlike our cat.)
P.S. If you go see it, don’t tell me how it ends. I want to watch it with Elsa when she’s a teenager.