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The Incredibles (2004)

10 November 2004 by Baldy 2 Comments

THE INCREDIBLES


2004, dir. Brad Bird
115 min. Rated PG.
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee, Brad Bird, John Ratzenberger, and A Mushroom Cloud-Layin’ Motherfucker.

Review by Baldy

For those of you who don’t know me, I recently inherited three kids. They’re good kids and I like them, but the whole thing takes a little getting used to. One definite upside to the whole thing is that I now have a perfectly legitimate excuse to go to see kid movies on opening night! Yesss, we all went out last week to check out Pixar’s new offering, The Incredibles.

Okay, I have to give you a little preamble. I don’t like Disney. Period. I think they’re pretty freaking warped and really like to mess with little kids. I also don’t like the recent trend of other, better entities being brought under the Disney umbrella. Pooh is NOT Disney. Disney bought the rights. That’s all. In Pixar’s case, Disney was rich and Pixar was brilliant and creative. Disney knows that rich doesn’t always mean brilliant and creative, so Disney bought brilliant and creative. Saying this was a Disney film is like saying CLERKS was a Disney film, just because of the Miramax thing. I freakin’ hate Disney.

Previews: nothing too notable. I’m sure there was something in there that was memorable, but I must have been doing my hair at the time.

The animated short film preceding the feature was very. . . off. It’s this thing about a dancing sheep who is proud of his wool, up until the point that he is sheared. Then, he’s ashamed and doesn’t want to walk or dance in front of the other animals. A jackalope comes along and teaches him to hop, and that makes it all better. The short sucked. It had only three redeeming qualities. One: the movie that follows is a welcome change, especially in the charged and volatile environment of an opening night audience. Two: It’s so surreally bad that it’s over before it sinks in just how badly it sucked. Three: it gives those wafflers out there a reason to get down off of that fence and start smoking the reefer. (Littering AND. . . littering AND?) At some point during the feature, I think that the short tied in. I just can’t remember how. No, I wasn’t smoking.

THE INCREDIBLES rocked. It should, since it’s been floating out there in people’s heads since before FINDING NEMO. Did you see that one? Look for a little boy in the dentist’s office, holding on to an Incredibles comic. Unlike a lot of other film projects that had a lot of forethought but fell really short (EYES WIDE SHUT, A.I., ISHTAR), this one really reflects the amount of effort that was put into it. Any movie with the stones to put all of the credits at the end of the film deserves a little respect, in my book.

The basic plot is something straight out of Kingdom Come. Mr. Incredible is a superhero. He and a bunch of assorted costumed do-gooders run around their fair city (Hub City, Gotham, Metropolis, whatever) saving lives and righting wrongs. When heroes begin to be persecuted for their perceived wrongdoing (preventing suicides and the like), they are forced to go to ground and stay hidden. Jump to ten years later, and we find that Mr. Incredible has set up housekeeping with Elastigirl (as would most men, if they could). Brodie Bruce’s conversation about Reed Richards with Stan Lee comes to mind. They have three children. Violet, the eldest, can create force fields and turn invisible. Dash likes to run faster than most cars can travel. Jack Jack, the baby, appears to be completely normal. Nobody’s allowed to use their powers, though Mr. Incredible and his friend Frozone (Samuel M.F. Jackson) yearn for the days when their lives were important.

Mr. Incredible gets gradually sucked back into the crime-fighting life by a sultry vixen named Mirage (Elizabeth Pena), not knowing that she’s working for his new arch-nemesis! You see, there was someone a long time ago who wanted to be a superhero but didn’t have any powers. He devoted his life to science and worked to create powers like those with which our heroes had been born. He then stages a series of events which will allow him to LOOK like the hero, which should then follow with adoring adulation. His name is Syndrome (Jason Lee), and he never got the basic message that heroes generally tend to be good. He kidnaps Mr. Incredible, forcing the rest of the family to cast aside their alter egos and come to the rescue. The end.

Like most Pixar flicks, this one was full of all kinds of clever little things. The FINDING NEMO tie-in is one. Early on in the film, Mr. Incredible “accidentally” refers to Syndrome as Brody. Think MALLRATS. One of the trailers touted one of the film’s storyboard artists as the “First Artist On the Moon.” Even the reel markers (cigarette burns – thanks, Tyler Durden!) are the Incredibles logo. Tributes are paid aplenty to both James Bond and to the Star Wars films. As this CGI film did not feature any stupid live-action puppets, we can only assume that the director was NOT paying homage to the recently-released DVD version.

This movie is fun. It’s technically well-made, as you might expect from Pixar. The plot is just what it needed to be: part comic book, part Saturday morning cartoons, part Batman serials. The performances, though, are where the film really shines. There are so many good performances that it would detract from the movie, except for the fact that the performances all seem to complement each other. Casting Coach as Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible worked out very well. He’s no Patrick Warburton, but he gets the hero voice thing well. There are a couple of tender and difficult moments, as well, and Coach comes through with flying colors. Holly Hunter is great. No surprise there. Jason Lee as Syndrome was an interesting choice, but one that worked out for the film. It just felt like it took a little while to settle in, is all. Sam Jackson continues to be the greatest graduate of Clark-Atlanta University ever. Spencer Fox as Dash was a perfect casting, and this kid has voice talent to spare (until his voice changes). John Ratzenberger sneaks into the film in order to preserve his current streak with Pixar. He plays The Underminer, a fellow who will presumably get his butt whipped in a possible sequel.

The greatest surprise performance came from Brad Bird. The man who directed the film also spent some time behind the mic as Edna Mode, the woman without whom all superheroes would be flying around with capes and bad outfits. Supposedly basing his performance on a woman who did costume design in Hollywood for over 50 years, he naturally steals the show in his very few scenes. It’s obvious from his portrayal that this character is near and dear to his heart, and she adds a nice bit of flavor to the film.

This is a good film. I would be wary about bringing the younger kids, since the death threats and the kidnapping seemed to really mess with the Munchkins in the theater. Instead, I would recommend it to about anyone from eight up. Younger kids can hack it, but there’s just no telling. I had a good time, loved the movie and will undoubtedly see it again.

Unfortunately, this is the first Pixar film to end on one particular down note: no outtakes.

Related Links:
FINDING NEMO
THE POWERPUFF GIRLS MOVIE
TOXIC CRUSADERS: THE MOVIE

2 Comments »

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  • Susu.ro said:

    This is one of the finest animated films I have ever seen. Not only is it a fine animated film, it is a great film period. The film obviously takes its cue from several real life super hero comic books, especially The Fantastic Four and the Justice Society of America. The Fantastic Four comparison is obvious due to the fact that Elatigirl and Violet were obviously inspired by Mr. Fantastic (aka. Reed Richards) and the Invisible Woman (aka. Sue Storm Richards) respectively. The J.S.A. influence is a little more obscure. Several years ago, DC Comics issued a mini-series that attempted to explain the demise of the Justice Society by claiming that the group was forced to disband after their loyalty to America was questioned during the 1950’s. In this film, all the heroes were forced into hiding after the government refused to pay for wrongful legal claims brought against the super heroes of this film. Also, there are many in jokes that the casual viewer might not get, but that made it enjoyable for comic book fans. This the island scenes look as if they could have been inspired by many of the series produced by Gerry Anderson of the 1960’s (eg. the Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet).

    Another thing that made this film unique was its look. If you notice, the city where the story takes place looks like a fairly modern metropolis. However, if you look at the cars in the film, most of them look as if they would have been more at home in the mid to late 1960’s. Also, the way that many of the characters were dressed also could have put them in that time.

    However, the thing that I really loved about this film was the fact that even though it was geared primarily to children, it was dark enough in theme to appeal to adults. In fact, there are a couple of scenes that you wouldn’t normally associate with a film geared towards children.

    This film is definitely a classic of animation and once again Pixar shows why they are the masters of computer animation.

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