The Incredibles

Brad Bird, the director of the The Incredibles also directed The Iron Giant, a great pen and ink animated feature. Pixar is, of course, the computer animation company that is on an unprecedented run of quality hits, beginning with Toy Story. The mere prospect of these two forces coming together is enough to make a geek jump up and down with glee, which what they’ve been doing for the past several years since this project was announced.

It lives up to expectations.

Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) is a superhero. He has super strength and is indestructible. Mr. I is a good guy, outgoing, wants to do the right thing. He’s married to Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and they have three kids.

Several years back they had to give up the superhero racket because they were getting sued by the people they were trying to save. Now, all the superheroes are in a protection program run by the government that hides them from their plaintiffs. They must live as ordinary humans. They all find this difficult, but Mr.Incredible more than most. He has a desk job at an insurance agency, a sedan that’s too small for him, and an expanding waistline. His kids have superpowers and can’t help but use them, no matter how much their parents warn them not to. The mother is the main enforcer of the ban and looks to the father for back up, which comes reluctantly, since he’s actually very proud of them.

Also hanging around is Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson). One night a week, Mr. I and Frozone tell their wives they are going bowling, but they really go out to rescue people from fires, muggings and other perils.

When Mr. I is fired from his job, (he wants to help people too much) he accepts an offer to do some freelance superhero work for what he thinks is a secret government agency. This leads to trouble which eventually involves Elastigirl coming to rescue him. The kids tag along.

Bird effectively deals with some heavy issues, even while he’s lampooning them. In the first half, the family squabbles and troubles seem real. They may be talking about a boy with super speed putting tacks on a teacher’s chair, but they could easily be dealing with any kind of behavioral problem. The reactions are realistic, even if the situations are fantastic. Consequently, this is not the joyous romp that most Pixar films are. It’s a little slower paced (The running time is almost two hours) and it’s darker, earning it’s PG rating.

But what you get in trade for sheer fun is a greater depth of knowledge about the characters. You care about them more, which makes for greater suspense. You also get some great visuals, wonderful voice work, especially from Nelson, Hunter, and Jackson, and Pixar’s usual spectacular animation. They are way ahead of Dreamworks at this point.

There are some mighty happy geeks in the world today.


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November 2004
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