Merida is a raging badass.

In a day that was way more trouble than it was worth until the movie began, I went downtown and saw Brave.

First of all: fabulous movie. Totally worth the endless procession of ads and previews the theater made us sit through before they started the feature.

Second: surprisingly enough, I actually don’t mind the trope of the fierce redhead heroine. As a person who had to go through the hassle of growing up a red-haired child, I think there’s some truth to the idea of redhead girls as ferocious and independent. It’s not that we’re born that way, it’s that we develop that way as a survival mechanism. If you had to deal with the attention that I did growing up, you’d be fierce and stubborn, too.

It is a very thoughtful, nuanced study of a mother-daughter relationship, first and foremost. It wouldn’t be a kids’ movie if they did an honest exploration of the horrors of forced marriage, but they give the topic its due within the limits of the target audience by pointing out that actually, it is not in the interests of a couple of teenagers to be set up in a marriage for reasons other than that they have actually gotten to know each other and decided they want to marry. Most of all, it’s about the relationship between Merida and her mother, Elinor. If there’s a basic no-brainer life lesson, it is: when you purchase a magic spell to make your mom act differently, you need to be specific about the changes to be made. Otherwise you will end up turning your mom into a dangerous wild animal and plunging your kingdom into pandemonium. Just saying.