Jane Roper

Writer. Blogger. Hater of Olives.

Not so Brave

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.




  1. I’m SO glad I read this post, Jane. My seven-year-old daughter is more than a wee bit sensitive about scary parts of movies (or books, or pictures, or anything else…). Much of the Disney/Pixar library still presents a challenge for her. I was hopeful about Brave, but there’s no way she could take those bears, especially in a movie theater.

    Interestingly, when she met her second-grade teacher for next fall, the teacher informed her new class that they will be reading Harry Potter in the coming year. I can’t wait to see how that goes.

  2. I still think we’ll give this one a try in the theater with my kids, even though they are sensitive and the youngest is five. I’ll just warn them ahead of time about the scary bears and give my son permission to hide in my lap and see how we do.

    I’m still kind of amazed, though, when I think back to my dad reading us Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the like when I was a kid, and how unthinkable that would be for mine. I think kids in general are more sensitive on a lot of levels today, and I’m of two minds about that.

  3. If you go to a theater and the sound is too loud, find a manager or someone at the box office (NOT the concession stand, they can’t do anything about anything). It may be they turned the volume up, or have it set up higher expecting more people. Even in a quiet theater, people make noises, shifting and getting up and down. Especially in a family/kids movie. But if it is too loud, then ask them to turn it down. My husband and I both have worked in movie theaters (my husband use to open and run them) so we know if there is an issue that can be solved, we say something. And the movie is rated PG, which means generally even with positive reviews that it probably isn’t best for the under six sect. And another tip: Any Disney movie (and some others, but ALWAYS) Disney produced kid-film will be at least a little dark. Walt Disney wanted to portray the darker side of life and show that the lighter side can win. It’s a statement on real life, to give kids hope that the bad things/times will pass and everyone goes through rough things; but that makes the endings…”happily ever after”. Look back on their earliest films. Most kids think Sleeping Beauty is more scary than “Beauty & The Beast”, which depicts a horrifically violent fight where both characters are shown bleeding.

    But if Elsa is so sensitive, as my oldest use to be (she’s now almost ten); then I say wait six months for the DVD. With a Summer release, it’s a sure bet the DVD will be out in time to fill Christmas stockings. And it saves you a lot more money, as store-bought microwave popcorn is super cheap compared to concession stands nowaways!

  4. oh dear, this would be my kids too. Molly insisted we leave the muppet movie five minutes before the ending as she got freaked out by something. Kids are so sensitive & so much in kids’ movies is way too much for them to process…
    sorry about your cat and happy about your cash back– also so sorry I didn’t see you in NYC last week. Babysitting was just not happening at all.
    I hope I get another chance; still thinking and writing about your great book.
    take care!

  5. Whoodoggies. Heed the call of Ms. Roper, parents of the U-7 crowd. I brought my munchkin this evening and 75% of the evening was spent pooping our Pixar pants. Why the bears? Why not unicorns?! WHYYYY?!?

  6. My brother worked on the sound for Brave. Apparently Skywalker Ranch used some crazy cool new technology which is why the sound is so “pure” according to my bro, and loud As f@#$ for everyone else.

  7. The chain cinemas are cranking the volume – and everything that comes before the movie is even LOUDER than the feature. I wonder if these higher levels are because so many people have blown their ears w/ iPods.
    The networks do it, too – commercials are louder than the programs. YUCK!
    ps: I loved La Luna.

  8. Lucia Duquette-Holmes

    July 2, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    We saw it opening weekend and all four of mine LOVED it. The scary bear stuff wasn’t so bad I thought, but it is rated PG and it’s not just because of the Kilt Humor. Course my twins are selectively scared of stuff like that. Heros fighting bears and huns and dragons, bring it. Volcanos erupting, nightmares for weeks.

  9. So, I had read this wonderful post, but failed to share it with my wife (silly me). We brought our 6.5 and 3.9 year old girls, who are TOTALLY obsessed with Merida, and everything was going fine – until the super scary shit with the Big Bad Bear. They were fine with the Queen. Mama managed to peel the 3yo off the ceiling, and they went out for a couple of minutes and came back and sat in a different row. The 6 yo cut off the circulation in my right arm during the Big Finale (which I will not reveal) but all’s well that ends well. It is Pixar/Disney after all.

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