‘Brave’ more magical than ‘Magic Mike’

I spent a couple hours at the movie theater yesterday seeing two movies I’ve waited a while to see. One was excellent, the other a disappointment. First, the bad.

“Magic Mike” – Like many ladies (and a few gentlemen) out there, I’ve eagerly awaited the release of “Magic Mike” for a while now. Hot actors like Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello (my favorite!), Alex Pettyfer, Adam Rodriguez and Matt Bomer star as strippers? Yes, please, and can it be in 3D IMAX?

Trust me, ladies and gents, save your money and just watch the trailers, which are infinitely more entertaining. In between the stripping scenes (ALL of which you’ve already seen in trailers and commercials), there’s a story of stripper Mike (Tatum), who takes a young stripper called The Kid (Pettyfer) under his wing, all the while hoping for a better life for himself. But The Kid gets caught up in the stripping lifestyle and… well… you can probably guess the rest. The story was predictable. And the story got pretty serious, which felt really weird when cut against silly stripping sequences. The whole movie felt unbalanced. You never knew if you should laugh at something or take it seriously, which meant a lot of awkward laughter from the audience.

I was one in a group of six women who went together to see the movie and we all had our favorite actors picked from the start. But some of us were disappointed that our favorite actors barely had a line of dialogue. Tatum and Pettyfer said everything; I’m not exaggerating to say I think Bomer and Manganiello were given about one line each, and I’m not sure Rodriguez had any. Why let such talent go to waste?

I think the worst part of the movie, though, was this one terrible scene that included a fat joke. It was just plain cruel. In an audience full of mostly women, not a single one of us laughed. Most of us actually gasped in horror. It was humiliating. And when the scene cut to the victim of the joke, you could hear most of the audience say, “aww,” because the look on her face just broke your heart. I was ticked off, and I wonder if other women were, too.

The best parts of the film were Tatum’s dancing sequences, but if you’ve seen “Step Up,” then you’ve seen that.

This, for me, was kind of like “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” I knew I was going into a movie called “Magic Mike” about a stripper called, well, “Magic Mike.” My expectations weren’t necessarily high, but I certainly expected to have a better time. Save your $8.50.

Now, the good:

“Brave” – FINALLY. A princess movie with a Happily Ever After that doesn’t include a Prince Charming, but a Princess living the life of her dreams.

You’ve seen the trailers, I’m sure, so you know the basic story: Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) loves archery and riding her horse, Angus. Her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), tries to prepare Merida for her impending queendom, and tells her it’s time to choose a husband. The princess isn’t ready to be a wife or a queen, so she rebels, with the help of a witch.

It all resolves itself beautifully in the end, and if you’re close with your mother, you’ll at least tear up. It is a sweet movie with messages of compromise and being yourself. Merida gets herself into her own troubles and gets herself right back out of them, with no help from anyone else. It’s empowering and refreshing.

“Brave” is a Pixar movie, so it is gorgeous, and there’s tons of adorable humor throughout. Merida’s little brothers are a highlight.

If ever I had a child, especially a daughter, I’m not sure I’d ever waste time showing her most of the other princess movies. This one sends the best message, that it’s perfectly OK to be yourself and you can be the hero of your own story.

“Brave” is definitely worth your while.

ps. Hey movie-goers: I don’t care if this is a children’s movie and the kids are probably louder than the movie. TURN THE RINGER OFF YOUR PHONE AND DON’T TEXT. Seriously, people, is that too much to ask?

OK, those are my complaints and compliments. What movies did you see this weekend?

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