The Incredibles Review
By Shawn McKenzie 07/10/2005
When The Incredibles first came to theaters last November, I didn’t get to see it, because I was not able to get a ride to the screening (I didn’t have a car at that time.) I knew that I was going to like it, because I have liked all of Pixar’s movies so far. The movie went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and several other industry awards. It wasn’t until I was set to see Fantastic Four that I decided to rent the DVD. I’m so glad that I did, because it deserved the Oscar, even more than Shrek 2, and definitely more than Shark Tale.
Bob Parr (voice of Craig T. Nelson) is a mild-mannered guy who is actually a superhero that goes by the name of Mr. Incredible. At the beginning of the movie, Bob is on his way to marry Helen, a.k.a. Elastigirl (voice of Holly Hunter), but he just can’t stop himself from helping people (one of his weaknesses in this movie is that he is easily distracted.) On the way to the church, he decides to stop some armed gunmen running from the cops. While getting ready to stop the gunmen, an old lady asks if Mr. Incredible will get her cat Squeakers out of a tree. Bob does this for her, and he uses the tree to knock out the gunmen at the same time. He then hears about a tour bus robbery taking place, but before he hops in his car, he is approached by a kid from his fan club, Buddy Pine (voice of Jason Lee.) Buddy wants to be Mr. Incredible’s sidekick, donning the alias lncrediBoy, because he is Mr. Incredible’s number one fan. Bob dismisses him and goes on to stop the thief (with a little help from Elastigirl.) He then tries to make it to the church, but is distracted by a suicidal jumper named Oliver Sansweet. Bob saves Oliver by crashing into an office building carrying him in tow, but once he does that, a French bad guy named Bomb Voyage (voice of Dominique Louis) attempts to rob the building’s vault. Buddy, using a pair of rocket boots that he invented, tries to help Mr. Incredible, but manages to let Bomb Voyage get away. The bad guy has put a bomb on Buddy’s cape, and Bob then needs to save Buddy, along with a train that almost wrecks when the bomb on Buddy’s cape goes off. He finally makes it to the church to marry Helen, with his best man, Lucius Best, a.k.a. Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson), by his side. The next day, Oliver, along with the passengers from the train, sues Bob for the pain and suffering caused by their rescues, forcing him and Helen to go into the Superhero Relocation Program, headed by the NSA (National Supers Agency), and supervised by Rick Dicker (voice of Bud Luckey.) Fifteen years later, Bob is now living in Metroville as an insurance adjuster for Insuricare, and his boss is named Gilbert Huph (voice of Wallace Shawn.) He hates his job, especially when he is forced to deny claims for nice old ladies like Mrs. Hogenson (voice of Jean Sincere), but secretly finds loopholes for them, angering Gilbert. Helen is a stay-at-home mom, raising their three kids, preteen Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), 10-year-old Dashiell, a.k.a. Dash (voice of Spencer Fox), and infant Jack Jack (Eli Fucile and Maeve Andrews.) Violet is a shy, goth-like teen who has a crush on Tony Rydinger (voice of Michael Bird), a popular boy at school. She has inherited the power of invisibility and can create force fields. Dash is an energetic kid who likes to play pranks on his teachers, like Bernie Kropp (voice of Lou Romano.) He has inherited the power of super-speed. Jack Jack apparently has no powers at the moment. Helen warns them that they aren’t allowed to use their powers, which frustrates them greatly. Bob longs for his old life, so he pretends to go bowling with Lucius, but instead, the two listen to the police scanner and do some moonlight people saving. What Bob doesn’t know is that his actions are being watched by a mysterious woman named Mirage (voice of Elizabeth Peña.) After a confrontation between Bob and Gilbert lands his boss in traction, Bob is fired. That night, Bob is given an electronic message, sent by Mirage, who offers him a job at three times his annual salary. She belongs to a secret organization who wants Bob to take out the Omnidroid 9000, a top-secret prototype battle robot that has gotten out of control. After stopping the droid, the organization hires him for more jobs, making him richer. He has to lie to his wife though, but she notices how happy he is now. Bob goes to his personal superhero costume designer Edna “E” Mode (voice of Brad Bird), who designs him a new suit to replace his old “hobo” suit, as she calls it. Edna has also installed a tracking device, unbeknownst to Bob, which Helen finds (through Edna’s assistance.) She flies to Nomanisan Island, the location of the secret organization, to find Bob. She had left a teenager named Kari (voice of Bret Parker) to babysit, but Violet and Dash have stowed away on the plane anyway. Meanwhile, Mirage’s “employer” turns out to be Syndrome (voice of Lee again), a super villain who is actually Buddy all grown up. He has a sinister plan to kill all other superheroes so that he can pretend to save the day. He captures Bob, and holds him hostage. Helen and the kids save Bob, and with the help of Lucius, who is fighting with his wife Honey (voice of Kimberly Adair Clark) over where his supersuit is stored, band together to battle Syndrome.
Bird, the voice of Edna, wrote and directed this highly entertaining film. He also wrote (with Tim McCanlies) and directed one of my favorite animated features, 1999’s The Iron Giant, along with one of my favorite episodes of NBC’s “Amazing Stories,” an animated episode called “The Family Dog” (which became a short-lived TV show on CBS in 1993.) He has figured out how to give the audience quality family entertainment without dumbing down his material. You don’t even have to be a kid to enjoy this movie. The thing that I loved about it was the fact that they made the characters real superheroes. The movie was obviously comedic, but unlike other superhero comedies, like 1994’s Blankman, 1999’s Mystery Men, 2000’s The Specials, the ABC TV series “The Greatest American Hero,” and the animated or the live action versions of the TV show “The Tick,” this movie took its superheroes seriously. Even though there is a part where Bob has let himself go physically and has developed a gut, he is still super strong. All of the characters know how to use their powers, and they use them effectively. There were no failings of their powers for comedic effect.
I loved that they didn’t use mega-huge stars to voice the characters. I like Nelson, but beyond heading the casts of ABC’s “Coach” and CBS’s “The District,” he hasn’t exactly become a movie marquee name. Since winning the Oscar for Best Actress in 1993’s The Piano, Hunter has done mostly indie movies. This is Lee’s second bad guy, behind his character in 1999’s Dogma, and he proves once again that he has a ton of range for a former skateboarding champion. Jackson is probably the most famous name in this movie, but I think that the fact that his character is so small doesn’t become a distraction. Vowell and Fox are both newcomers, and they did their parts well. We also got Pixar alums Shawn and John Ratzenberger (voicing a bad guy character named The Underminer near the end of the movie), and they are always a welcome addition.
Speaking of Fantastic Four, I’m surprised that no one considered this movie a rip-off. Mr. Incredible is obviously The Thing, Elastigirl is Mr. Fantastic, Violet is The Invisible Woman, and there is even a Human Torch character in the movie. I think that they did this as an homage to Marvel’s first family of superheroes, and in this case, they are actually a real family.
The only two criticisms I have heard from other critics is that it is the longest Pixar movie so far (at almost two hours long) and it is the first one to carry the PG rating. The action barely stops, so I seriously anyone will get bored by the length. As for the rating…it’s based on some stylized comic hero violence and some suggestive sexual situations. The movie isn’t bloody at all, but a few characters do get killed (off screen.) At one point, during the part where Bob is feeling good about life, Helen pulls him inside for some suggested afternoon delight. Also, when Syndrome finds out that Bob and Helen got married, he sees their kids and says, “You married Elastigirl? Whoa! And got busy!” These little things will go over most kids’ heads and won’t really offend any parents.
The Incredibles is the best animated flick of 2004, and one of the best movies of the past year. I’m just disappointed that I didn’t get to see it on the big screen originally. The 2-disc DVD is packed with tons of fun extras. It comes in widescreen or full screen (depending on which version you buy; I prefer widescreen), with commentary tracks by Bird and others. On disc two, it has two shorts. Jack Jack Attack is a short that shows Jack Jack displaying his powers and torturing his babysitter Kari with them. The other one is the 2003 Oscar nominated short Boundin’, where a sheep is embarrassed about being shorn, until a jackalope comes along and tells him how it is okay to be different. The second disc has other cool extras, like partially animated deleted scenes, bloopers, character bios for all of the characters in this universe (not just the main ones in the movie), and much more. If you didn’t get a chance to see the movie on the big screen, I highly recommend checking out the DVD. It is…well…incredible!
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