Just as WALL-E (2008) told a moving tale of a young, isolated robot discovering love, and as Up (2009) allowed the viewer to be awed at the sight of a widower rediscovering the meaning of life, this is a film that will likely cause every mother and daughter to go to sleep at night with smiles on their faces.

BraveWhile Brave is not the best animated film to be created by Pixar’s talented crew, it has a provocative quality that cannot be denied. In particular, all mothers should take their daughters to see it, as the central story surrounds a young, inventive daughter who is fighting to establish her own way in life without losing the love of her mother.

The story takes place in Scotland against a backdrop of Norsemen at sometime in the Middle Ages. A young girl with a slab of red hair, named Princess Merida, is the only child of the King and Queen. In order to keep a divided country under control, the parents decide to hold an archery contest to see who will win the hand of the rebelling young princess.

The problem is that our young princess is not only an archery expert, but not about to be picked by anyone that she doesn’t first choose. While this both hurts and offends her loving mother, her father remains clueless. It seems he has lost his foot in a fight with a bear years earlier, and he remains far more devoted to getting loaded with a group of his mindless, male colleagues than moping over the concerns of his daughter.

While many of you have probably seen this fine film, what follows is the daughter’s quest for help that results in an unfortunate spell being put on her mother by a rather reckless witch. With her mother’s life in danger, what unfolds is a poignant tale of a conflicted mother rediscovering her lost feelings from youth and a young girl’s realization that she owes her very existence to the sacrifices of her mother. This movie may have a few slow moments, but it never loses its heart.

Before closing I should also note that this film contains some extraordinary music. There are a number of tremendous songs that will clearly fight for consideration at Oscar time. Patrick Neil Doyle is responsible for the entire soundtrack, including the Gaelic lyrics for the lovely “Noble Maiden Fair”.

Regardless, while I haven’t seen all of the animated films released this year, the two best so far are Brave and The Secret World of Arrietty. See them both and remember the foolish joy of being young.