Turns out to be much less about the qualities that mark a heroine built to interest a 21st-century audience of girls, boys, and accompanying adults, and much more about the complexities of mother-daughter relations.
While the mother-daughter clashes may make the story "relatable," they drain it of its mythopoetic potential, turning what could have been a cool postmodern fairy tale into another family melodrama.
Youngsters with a taste for adventure will no doubt overlook the movie's workmanlike outlines and applaud its spirited, self-reliant heroine, who proves to be as appealingly unruly as her tumble of Titian curls.
We would expect this kind of overstuffed joyride from Dreamworks Animation or the folks at Fox or even Disney itself. But it's terribly ordinary for Pixar, and ordinary is no longer enough.
The animation studio's first film with a female protagonist, a defiant lass who acts as a much-welcome corrective to retrograde Disney heroines of the past and the company's unstoppable pink-princess merchandising.
While co-directors Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell have successfully made a family action fantasy featuring a girl hero - a long-overdue revolution - the story is not as special as the princess inside it.
"Brave" offers sweep, a few songs about touching the sky and following your dream and at heart a story of a daughter and a mother learning to cut through society's expectations.
The story for this revisionist fairy tale, which promotes contemporary attitudes about parenting and gender equality, is less inspired than usual for Pixar, but the movie upholds the studio's high standard of computer animation.
Although Brave is satisfying and spirited and laced with humor (haggis jokes, kilt jokes), it doesn't quite mark a return to form for Pixar following the digital house's disappointing 12th feature, Cars 2.
The standout characters, exciting set pieces and memorable songs that we've come to expect are absent. The truest advertising tagline would be, "From the studio that brought you 'Cars 2.'"
Adding a female director to its creative boys' club, the studio has fashioned a resonant tribute to mother-daughter relationships that packs a level of poignancy on par with such beloved male-bonding classics as Finding Nemo.