A Princess Even a Boy Can Love

My 4-year-old son has pretty good taste in movies, except for his inexplicable fondness for the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” films. He’s lucky he gets to grow up in the Pixar Age, when a surprisingly large number of the films marketed to kids are not awful.

He’s used to movies he enjoys actually being objectively good, and by “objectively” I mean “according to me” (“Chipmunks” aside). Which is why I really hope “Brave,” out Friday, is as good as Pixar’s best. For one thing, it’s the studio’s first movie with a female protagonist.

My son doesn’t have any aversion to female characters, but he does have an aversion to princesses, who usually do not carry weaponry. But he seems intrigued by the commercials for “Brave.” It helps that Merida, the redheaded princess, carries a bow and arrow (“Like Hawkeye!”).

The conventional wisdom holds that girls will watch movies that feature boys, but boys won’t watch “girl movies.” That is, in my anecdotal experience, becoming less true. It may have been the case when boy characters were the only ones being written with any depth. But in animation, there’s a clear evolution of female characters getting stronger and more developed:

The strides made from Snow White to Ariel to Jessie to EVE have clearly outpaced any progress in live-action cinema. Kids today are used to women being fully realized characters, and I’m hopeful Merida continues the trend.

Kristen Page-Kirby covers film, arts and events for Express.

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Kristen Page-Kirby · June 22, 2012