Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Movie Review: The Incredibles (2004)

A film by Brad Bird

Pixar's sixth animated feature is something of a departure for the company. It marks the first time they have brought in outside talent to direct a feature (Brad Bird, director of "The Iron Giant"). It marks the first time a Pixar film has been rated PG instead of G. It also is the first time a Pixar film is completely about human characters. Previously the humans in Pixar movies have been kept in supporting roles with the most prominent one being Boo in "Monsters Inc". This time around, the humans are everywhere, so this was a new test of Pixar's talent. Time will tell, but "The Incredibles" may just be Pixar's best movie.

Imagine a world where there are superheroes battling to save the day. They fight because they have superpowers and this is their job. Mr. Incredible (Craig T Nelson) is the best, and most famous, of all the superheroes. But when he is sued for saving the life of a man who didn't want to be saved, the floodgates of lawsuits opened up and the country decided that there is no need to have any more superheroes. All superheroes are placed into the "Superhero Relocation Program", are granted amnesty for their past deeds, and now work regular, normal jobs. Mr. Incredible and his wife Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) are now simply Bob and Helen Parr. They have two children, Violet (NPR's Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Spencer Fox) who have superpowers but are not permitted to use them in public. Bob Parr works in insurance while Helen is a stay at home mother. Their lives are mundane, but Bob cannot quite let go of the past. He goes out on Wednesday nights for "bowling night". But bowling night consists of him and his former superhero friend Frozone (Samuel L Jackson), think "Iceman", sitting in a parked car listening to the police scanner talking about the old days and waiting for a chance to illegally help someone.

Bob Parr is contacted by Mirage (Elizabeth Pena), a superhero still doing superwork and she has a job for Mr. Incredible, if he is willing. Dissatisfied with his life, Mr. Incredible comes out of retirement, but he doesn't tell his wife. Suddenly he is making three times the money he was in insurance (before being fired from that job) and he has motivation to get back into shape. Elastigirl suspects an affair, but it isn't long before Mr Incredible has disappeared, captured by super villain Syndrome (Jason Lee) who has had a long standing grudge with Mr. Incredible ever since he was a child. Elastigirl, along with her children who secretly come along, have to rescue Mr. Incredible.

This is a Pixar movie, so all of this is animated and since it is a Pixar movie, "The Icredibles" pushes the boundaries of what was thought possible in animation. Simply put: this is a beautiful movie. There is an exaggerated level of realism, but everything flows and moves perfectly. This is, in part, a children's movie so "The Incredibles" is a lot of fun to watch. There is fast paced action which will thrill the kids. The movie is funny and flashy and bright. At times it looks just like a Saturday morning cartoon, but if so, it is the best Saturday morning cartoon you are likely to ever see. There is so much for adults in this movie to enjoy. From the clever dialogue and discussion of superheroes and super-villains to jokes that will go over the head of children, "The Incredibles" has something for everyone. There is action, comedy, adventure, fun, thrills, suspense, and danger. The Pixar name (not to mention Brad Bird) has long been one for quality and Pixar does not disappoint with "The Incredibles". This is easily one of the best movies of the year.

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