It could be argued that, when it comes to characters (and spin-off toys), Pixar has offered more to the lads than the lassies. But all that changes with Brave, a Highlands hullabaloo best suited to the mother-daughter demographic and which could lead to requests for a certain hairdo for Christmas.
Our hero is Princess Merida (Macdonald), the red-headed rebel daughter of King Fergus (Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Thompson). They're trying to find Merida a husband; she's using every trick in the book to wriggle out of wearing a wedding dress. The latest bunch of no-hoper suitors arrives for the annual Highland Games, where family tensions boil over and the adventure – and lesson – of Merida's life begins.
Directors Andrews and Chapman deserve their own kingdoms for what they've done here for Scottish tourism and brand recognition. Indeed, Brave's recreation of a magical and mystical land will make many Irish members of the audience wish that the duo had looked further to the west for inspiration. As always from the Pixar boffins, the visuals here are as lush as they are life-affirming, with the epic and the intimate receiving the same level of attention. The disappointment with Brave is that for all the, well, heart, the script isn't as sharp or bullseye-finding as one of Merida's arrows. There's plenty of wisdom here about family expectations, the courage to find your true path and parent-child role reversal, but the humour isn't as rich as it could've been and the supporting characters needed more of a look-in - if ever a trio deserved a spin-off movie it's Merida's baby brothers Hamish, Hubert and Harris.
Good fun, but young males might be a bit bored in places. Then again, what do boys know?