Welcome to Part 6 of Pixar-thon, my 13 part mission to review all the Disney Pixar movies. Suit up and prepare for battle, today we’re looking at The Incredibles!
There was a time when superheroes fought crime and kept the people safe from evildoers, but collateral damage caused by various good deeds led the government to create the “Supers Relocation Act”, which forces all super-powered beings to hang up their capes and blend in with society. Not everyone is happy with this act, least of all Bob Parr, formally known as Mr. Incredible. Forced to work a desk job at an insurance agency to support his wife Helen and their children Dash, Violet and Jack Jack (all of which have powers of their own), he spends his weekends reliving his glory days with his old partner Lucius by doing undercover hero work. One day, Bob gets a call from a mysterious woman to come perform some hero work on a secluded island where a rogue robot has run rampant, but it all turns out to be a trap set by Syndrome, a new villain with a very personal grudge against Mr. Incredible. When he finds out that his new nemesis has been killing off heroes and conspires to use one of his robots on a city so he can become one himself, the retired super and his family must race against time to stop Syndrome’s sinister plan.
The Incredibles is an oddity in the Pixar roster in a lot of ways. It’s their first movie to feature an all human cast, it’s their first to get a PG rating, and it’s also their first to invite a director from outside of their inner circle. The director in question is former Simpsons writer Brad Bird. Before this, Brad had only one other film directing credit to his name: The Iron Giant, an incredibly underrated piece about a boy and his robot. There are a few similarities between this and The Incredibles, mostly a late 50’s-early 60’s-esque setting and a minor theme of government cover-ups, but that’s another discussion for another day.
However, this does segue into the art design, which, like I said before, has a late 50’s-early 60’s feel to it, recalling the golden age of comics in the same era. The character models are a lot more angular and refined, more akin to Warner Bros. than their Disney parent. This may be due to the fact that The Incredibles was originally supposed to be done by Warner Bros,’ film animation department, which was shut down after Looney Tunes: Back In Action bombed at the box office. Looking at it, the film does indeed have a very 2-D feel, but made the transition to 3-D flawlessly. This was quite a challenge since Pixar had never done a film with a full human cast, and they had to create new animation technology to do it successfully. What really caught my eye was the way they animated everyone’s hair. It’s like they went out of their way to move every single individual strand, and make sure they used some kind of ultra conditioner. Needless to say, another flawless effort from the Pixar staff, but especially impressive considering the challenges they faced.
Much like Finding Nemo, if you took the fantasy elements out of the picture, what you get is a story about a man doing what he thinks is best for his family. The writing is especially relatable and authentic because this is a family that we can believe would exist in real life. Bob and Helen act like a real married couple. Dash and Violet act like actual siblings, and all of them act like parents and children. They argue, they fight, they have secrets, but they still love each other and look out for each other. The only major difference is that they have super powers, which makes the things a bit more interesting. Even the relationship between Mr. Incredible and Syndrome is believable considering that Syndrome is a former fan who became disenchanted when he finds out his hero isn’t all he thought he was. I especially love Syndrome as a villain, although sometimes he takes his grudge a bit too far. While doing research for this review, I came upon a rather negative review of this movie on YouTube by a popular critic whose name I will not say, but while I disagreed with almost everything he said about the movie, I do agree that his cruelty and meanness were really off-putting. But then again, it works to his advantage because he’s the villain, and I did enjoy his presence and I felt like he was a legitimate threat that provided conflict for out protagonists.
As such, the genuine sense of danger allows for some really off the wall action scenes. Throughout the film, they’re mainly fighting these giant robots which are virtually indestructible and too intelligent for their own good, and they provide a real challenge. Not only that, but they really get to play around with their powers in creative ways, from using Elastigirl’s stretching powers as she sneaks around the enemy base, to Dash’s super speed in the chase scene, to the reveal of the baby’s powers toward the end, none of it is ever gone to waste.
So what it all comes down to is that The Incredibles is a double whammy of a great action flick with actual substance, and a heartwarming family movie with actual risks. It strikes a good balance, knowing when to let loose or hold back. It can be enjoyed by youself or with the whole family, either way it really packs a punch.
I give The Incredibles 9/10.
Also, Edna Mode is one of the greatest characters ever. No exceptions (or capes).