‘Brave’ Explained by a Six-Year-Old

I spend so much time watching and critiquing movies that sometimes I forget how innocent movie-going can be to a little kid. I took my nearly six-year-old niece to see ‘Brave’ recently. What follows is the actual conversation we had when we got in the car afterward and headed home.

My niece Emery is a precocious youngster. She always says what’s on her mind, like most kids do. I knew I was in for a treat when we watched the previews before ‘Brave’ and one was for the new ‘Ice Age’ movie. There’s a scene where Scrat jumps off an iceberg in a plane made from leaves and a giant shark pops out and promptly gobbles him up in one chomp. Right after that happened, Emery turned to me in the darkness, looked straight at me, extended her hand in the air, and snapped her fingers shut while making a chomping noise that could be heard throughout the sparsely-populated theater.

After the movie, we got back into my car and had the following conversation, which I recorded with an app on my phone. [Warning: Some plot spoilers follow.]

Me: So, what did you think of ‘Brave’?

Emery: I liked it.

Me: Yeah? What was your favorite part?

Emery: Mmm… [thinking]… [still thinking]… When… I’m thinking right now.

Me: OK.

Emery: When the mom turned back from the bear.

Me: So when she turned back from the bear at the end?

Emery: Yeah.

Me: How come you liked that part?

Emery: Because, she was first a bear then she came back as a queen.

Me: How would it make you feel if your mom was turned into a bear?

Emery: Sad.

Me: You would be sad?

Emery: Yeah, because I like my mom. [Changing subjects] You know when Merida, she was a person?

Me: [Confused] Uh huh.

Emery: That’s what I like.

Me: Yeah? You like your mom to be a person.

Emery: Mhmm. [Nods in agreement] Well, there’s no things of witches!

Me: There’s no witches now to turn your mom into a bear?

Emery: Uh, there’s none.

Me: That’s good, huh?

Emery: Uh huh. [Nods] She’ll never turn into a bear.

Me: What was the funniest part?

Emery: You know the little boys? And the girl got scared and afraid. That was funny!

Me: Which girl? The lady that helped the castle?

Emery: Yeah. She was scared and kept running into things.

Me: Oh yeah, that was funny huh?

Emery: Yeah. [Laughs] That was about the funniest part.

Me: And she just kept screaming.

Emery: Yeah. [Imitates crazed woman screaming as she’s running away from tiny bear cubs]

Me: Were there any other funny parts?

Emery: Yeah. You know… Okay, I don’t know… That’s the only funny part that I know.

Me: That was the only funny part? You didn’t think all the naked bums were funny?

Emery: Yeah, I thought they were.

Me: You thought those were funny too?

Emery: [Seeming bored] Yeah.

Me: What was the scariest part?

Emery: When the mom turned into a bear.

Me: Why was that scary?

Emery: Because she turned into a bear, duh.

Me: That’s it? That’s the only thing that was scary? Not even the other big scary bear?

Emery: Yeah. He was trying to kill the Mary-belle. [She means Merida, but after a while kept saying Mary-belle. I thought it was adorable.] And he had red eyes. And he’s a bad bear.

Me: So if someone said to you, “Explain what ‘Brave’ is about,” what would you say?

Emery: I would say [pauses] stuff about ‘Brave’.

Me: [This caught me off guard and I laughed for a good 30 seconds] Like what?

Emery: The mom. Mary-belle. And the king.

Me: That’s it?

Emery: And those little boys.

Me: Okay. But what happens in ‘Brave’?

Emery: Mom turns into a bear. The little boys turn into bears…

Me: And then?

Emery: [Growing tired of my questions] They all turn back, duh.

Me: And then happily ever after?

Emery: The end.

Me: That’s it? What about the little glowing things?

Emery: The whisps?

Me: Yeah. Were they cool? Did you like those?

Emery: Yeah. The whisps!

Me: What if you saw a whisp in real life?

Emery: I’d follow, the trail. And see what it would lead me to.

Me: Did you think the witch was funny?

Emery: No [shakes her head]. I thought she was bad, bad, bad. Yeah. Every time she changes someone they turn into a bear.

Me: How come?

Emery: Because of the potion.

Me: But why would she turn everyone into a bear?

Emery: Because when somebody asks to change their moms.

Me: Why would someone ask to change their mom?

Emery: Just like Mery-belle did?

Me: Yeah. What would make someone want to change their mom?

Emery: If they don’t wanna do something.

Me: Is that your favorite Pixar movie or do you like other ones better?

Emery: That’s my favorite Pixar movie.

Me: Even more favorite than ‘Nemo’?

Emery: Yup.

Me: Even more favorite than ‘Wall-e’?

Emery: Yup.

Me: Even more favorite than ‘Toy Story’?

Emery: Yup.

Me: Wow. Why is it your favorite?

Emery: Because every time I first see a movie, then it becomes my favorite. Then when I see it over and over again, it’s still my favorite. ‘Brave’ is my favorite, favorite, favorite…wait…best, best, best, best, best, best, best, best, best, best, best, best, best, best, best, best movie.

Me: Wow that’s a very good movie. I’m glad you liked it so much.

Emery: Because it was funny.

Me: And had lots of action in it?

Emery: No. That’s not the reason why. That whole movie was OK! That was my best movie ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever.

Me: What did you think of her hair? Do you wish you had hair like that?

Emery: Yeah.

Me: Who has better hair, Merida or Rapunzel from ‘Tangled’?

Emery: Rapunzel. Because she has long hair and that’s what I have. I don’t want to get my hair cut. I want it to grow all the way like Rapunzel’s.

Me: So people can climb up it?

Emery: Yeah. Like all the way up to your apartment. I could reach my hair down and you could crawl up. Actually, I don’t think you can. You’re too big. Probably pull my hair out and I’d be bald forever.

Me: What do you think was in the potion that turned her mom into a bear?

Emery: Her hair. Remember the bird took her hair and put it in. Oh, and remember the broom that was sweeping by itself? Then the witch did this [clicks fingers] and it stopped.

Me: Yeah. Did you like that part?

Emery: Yeah.

Me: Have you seen ‘Sword in the Stone’?

Emery: What stone?

Me: ‘Sword in the Stone’. It’s a Disney movie. It has lots of brooms that sweep by themselves because of magic.

Emery: And do they do this. [Clicks fingers again]

Me: Yeah, Merlin does that because he’s magic.

Emery: [Off in her own world thinking about controlling brooms with magic finger clicks] [Clicks fingers] You’re done sweeping, we have a guest here! [Click]

Me: How many more times do you think you’ll see ‘Brave’?

Emery: A thousand billion. Actually, ten hundred.

Me: [Laughing] OK, that’s a more reasonable number. OK, last question: If you had to give ‘Brave’ a grade like you get in school, what grade would you give it?

Emery: Umm, preschool.

Me: I mean A through F. What would you give it? Like A-plus, B-minus…?

Emery: Six-plus!

Me: Six A-plusses?

Emery: Yeah. Six A-plusses!

Me: That’s a lot of A-plusses. Thanks for going with me Emery.

Emery: You’re welcome. Now let’s go get our swimming suits on! Yay!

As a movie critic, it’s sobering to go to a movie with a little kid and find out what they thought. The whole activity is so simple for them. They’re only looking to be entertained. She had fun and liked the movie, but you can see that, at the end, she’d forgotten about it and had moved onto more important activities like swimming. Oh, to be six again.


  1. William Henley

    You know, when I was six, the movie “Never-Ending Story” came out. It got great reviews, and about how much kids will love it. So my parents took me to see it. To this day, I still have nightmares from the movie, and absolutely HATE it.

    I guess point is, it doesn’t matter how well a movie is made, or what the critics say, in the end, it matters what the target audience thinks. And it sounds like the target audience of “Brave” really likes the movie.

    Sadly, that makes being a reviewer that much harder, because you are NOT a six-year-old girl.

  2. EM

    I read much of your interview to my co-workers. I think the consensus is that your niece is hilarious and adorable. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem anyone thought of you that way. 🙁 😀

    There are a lot of movies that many adults like, and there are a lot of movies that many kids like. The magic is in a movie with broad appeal for young and not-so-young alike. Feel free to continue critiquing “kids’ movies” from an adult perspective, Aaron. Grownups having to sit through the kids’ entertainment deserve to be entertained, too.

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