“What was your favorite part, Mama?” she said between mouthfuls of steamed dumpling and bites of broccoli.
We had just seen “Brave,” and were seated at a table in the restaurant next door to the theater, debriefing. I use the word “sitting” loosely. Neither Ittybit nor The Champ could contain themselves. Eyes flashing, mouth chirping, she was practically levitating off the seat. Swashbuckling with chopsticks, he was attacking his meal with the ferocity of a wee Scottish lord.
“I really liked the witch's workshop,” I said, explaining that I loved looking at all the animated carvings and listening to the way they clanked together as the hero of the story, Merida, blew in following the mysterious “wisps.”
“Oh, that was good!” she exclaims. “Yeah, that was good,” echoes her brother as he tries to spear his meal. Truth be told, however, more than the work of foley artists, the thing I loved most was that its hero is a girl.
I loved that “Brave” is all the things you could want in a lifetime let alone a movie, whether you are male or female. It has lush landscapes, a loving family, action, adventure, humor, ingenuity, failure and redemption. And it is as much about acknowledging duty as it is about breaking tradition.
Things we wrestle with for all our lives not just for 90 minutes in a darkened room filled with the rich smells of popcorn.
Most of all, though, I loved that girls as heros won't be as novel a concept to my children as it was to me when I was their age. And that girls don't have to become boys to find or measure their worth.
“What was your favorite part?” I say a little too loudly, drowning out the bagpipes in the soundtrack of my imagination.
“I liked when the free brovers ate all the cupcakes. They were like free little pigs. That was funny,” said The Champ, his own mouth full of dumpling.
“Oh … I liked it all, especially the part where she fixes the tapestry and everything goes back to being the same only better,” Ittybit says.
“But that's not … what happened … not exactly ...” I stammer.
“Sure it is. She didn't sew very well but it was good enough,” she says with conviction.
“It was more than just a ripped picture. It was the relationship between mother and daughter that had been damaged; the tear was just a symbol of that bond. They actually had to fix their relationship.”
“That's what I said.”
It's interesting to watch movies with my kids. To see the symbolism sail straight over their heads, where it will hang around (once the movie is released to DVD and I fall prey to little pestering) until one day they see it with more mature eyes. And something else clicks.
And as much as I want them to see what I've seen, I know we all experience the world a little differently. We come to our understanding with filters … some I've installed … some friends have installed … some they've discovered themselves.
“You know what I really frink the best part of the movie was?” says The Champ, moving on to the fortune cookie portion of the meal.
“Let me guess?” replies his sister. “The sword fighting? The horse? The boy who had a tattoo on his face?”
“Nope. I liked that the mom didn't die. … These movies always kill the mom.”
They both start to laugh, and it strikes me: The best part of any movie will always be talking about it afterward.