(2004)

Alan:+

Ebert:1/2 Rolling Stone:1/2 TV Guide:1/2


Warning, minor plot points revealed!

Let me start by simply saying, I LOVED THIS MOVIE!  I had high hopes for it and it still turned out to be about a zillion times better than I expected. At this point it is my second favorite movie of the year (behind Spiderman 2.) Itís definitely, far and away, the best animated film of the year. Shrek 2, the other big animated contender, is just a boring piece of junk by comparison.†

It is now apparent that Pixar studios (Monsters Inc., A Bug's Life, Toy Story 1 and 2, Finding Nemo) has made some sort of pact with a digital Satan (and I donít mean Disney, that relationship is almost over.) There is no other way to explain how each and every film they have ever produced is a Five Star Masterpiece that also significantly improves upon the one before it. The weird thing is how their secret formula for success has yet to be duplicated, no matter how hard Dreamworks (Shrek, Shark Tale, etc) tries. Itís not just an explosion of pop culture references that make a movie entertaining. The depth of the characters and tight, solid, fresh, storytelling is what sets Pixar apart from everyone else.

The Incredibles expertly tells the tale of how, after years of service, the superhero's of the world were forced to stop their super deeds when survivors of their heroics started to sue for damages.  The heroes were placed, by the government, into a witness protection-like program and given new identities to fit in with society.  The mighty Mr. Incredible is now an insurance adjuster named Bob Parr and his wife, the former Elastigirl, is now housewife Helen Parr.  As Bob toils away at his mundane cubicle farm, Helen cares for their three kids - Violet who has the power to become invisible and generate force fields, Dashiell (Dash) who can run really fast, and baby Jack Jack who has no apparent super powers, yet.  Pining for their old lives, Bob and his buddy Lucius Best (aka Frozone) sneak out once a week to listen to police scanners and do anonymous good deeds.  Eventually Bob is discovered by the mysterious Mirage who hires him for her unseen employer to field test some weapons that only a superhero like Mr. Incredible could handle.  Unfortunately, his new boss also turns out to be a familiar voice from his past and the greatest threat the planet has ever known, Syndrome.  

I was a little worried going into this movie because Pixar has never really done a major human form animation before.  There were humans in the Toy Story films but they were peripheral and not yet well defined.  I shouldn't have worried.  If Spiderman 2 and X-Men 2 represent the ultimate in bringing comic action to life, then The Incredibles represents the utmost in comic-style 3-D animation.  It is probably the best looking animated film I have ever seen. 

This is also the first PG rated Pixar film.  Not to say that the G rated audience will not enjoy it, they will.  The main reasons for the PG rating are whispers of infidelity, a suicide attempt, and the mortal danger that the heroes face.   At one point Helen pulls the kids aside to warn them that their enemies "will not show restraint" and we later see the corpse of a dead hero in the caves under Syndrome's lair.  This is all, however, presented in a way that is no more disturbing than the deaths in films like Star Wars

The fast paced action in this film is probably the best in any live or animated film to date.  Although the CGI effects of Spiderman allow for a quick seamless fluidity of movement in a static real life backdrop the fact that the Incredibles universe is all CG gives the characters a unique way to interact with an environment that can be manipulated as well.  

The voice actors all do a great job with their characters.  Craig T. Nelson is excellent as Mr. Incredible.  Holly Hunter does a fantastic job as Elastigirl /  Helen.  Her voice fits this character so perfectly.  Samuel L. Jackson is funny in a supporting role as Bob's buddy Lucius Best / Frozone.  Jason Lee, and actor who is criminally underused in films, is whiny and hilarious as super villain Buddy Pine / Syndrome.  Wallace Shawn has a funny guest spot as Bob's boss at the insurance company.  His voice is a little too recognizable though.  Perhaps they should have made the weasely character look a little more like him.  Elizabeth PeŮa is seductive as the henchwoman Mirage.  Sarah Vowell (one of the great voices of NPR) is super-cool as goth loner Violet Parr.  And Spencer Fox plays the hyper-speed velocity of Parr son Dashiell 'Dash' with the ideal intensity for the young character.  

Finally, director Brad Bird is hilarious as the voice of superhero couture madam and Q-like Bond scientist, Edna 'E' Mode.  Modeled after famed Hollywood costumer Edith Head, Bird provides one of the funniest moments of the film when Edna describes the mishaps associated with caped heroes.  Hopefully Bird will become a bit more recognized for his work after this.  His first film The Iron Giant was a brilliant classic animated tale that never got the credit it deserved.  Bird was also one of the directors on the greatest animated TV show in history, The Simpsons.  

I don't know anything else I can say to help make the point of how great this film is.  I can't wait to see it again and again and again on DVD and I may have to go see it a couple more times on the big screen too.  This is definitely one you wanna see in the theatre.  The small screen will slightly diminish the grand vision of the movie so see it now while it's still at the theatre.

The Incredibles is not just one of the best movies of the year, it's actually one of the best movies I have ever seen.  Do not be distracted by it's being animated.  Animation is just a medium.  Adults will love this film just as much as children. In fact, grown-ups will actually be able to enjoy it on far more levels than kids, so do not miss this one.