Writer-director Brad Bird here has something that I was caught off-guard by just a bit. I always expect Pixar films to be above-par, family entertainment, the kinds of films that can have an appeal to adults on a satirical, jab-in-the-side effect by having the characters reacting to each other as they would on a film with a higher rating, whilst giving the bright colors, action, and silliness that appeals to kids. Watching The Incredibles, their sixth feature-length offering, I wasn't so entertained and amused since their 98 film A Bug's Life, and it almost brought me back to the emotional impact I felt when in the theater for the first time getting Toy Story into my system.
It's a film that takes on a type in society that we all know well (in the past they've done toys, bugs, monsters, undersea life, and now comic book archetypes) and transforms it superbly to the imaginative computer-animated landscape. This is also in credit due to Brad Bird, who proved five years ago with his sleeper The Iron Giant that he could transcend the genre and appeal with heart and vigor for almost every age bracket.
So what little touches make The Incredibles so appealing? How it starts to deconstruct the idea of a superhero, perhaps, as well as how the family unit is shown in the usual conventions under unusual and funny circumstances. As an example, one of our heroes Mr. Incredible, a.k.a. Bob Parr (voiced wonderfully by Craig T. Nelson), goes to visit a woman who fixes and creates the uniforms of superheroes. In one scene she explains why a cape is not a good idea. This is the kind of scene that might not make it into most Hollywood movies, and would sometimes if not often be discredited as being too 'smart' for kids to get. But by appealing to a kind of level late teens and adults can relate to, it reaches a higher, far more intelligent plane. In fact, many of the best scenes in the film take on what we all know in films displaying the 'family unit' and morph it with the power and imagination of superheroes.
I won't go too much into the plot as some may already have, except to say that what makes the story in and of itself appealing is how it is a fully formed story, and doesn't try and sell itself short like other animated films (i.e. Sharktale for example). It also uses it's PG-rating perimeter wisely, and Bird and company create action sequences that are as exciting, if not more so, than in the action films that have been released this year (in fact, some of the scenes in the climax, for my money, could rival a couple of those in Spider-Man 2). By setting up the right emotional bases with the characters- Bob, his wife Elasti-girl (Holly Hunter), their kids, and with supporting characters voiced finitely by the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Jason Lee, by the time the high-charged, internally fantasy scenes take off, they take off with great conviction and excitement.
Overall, The Incredibles is a film that is, in a way, what audiences wish they could get and rarely do- it's a film with wit and observance, a kind of video-game where the results are not as expectable as can be. Some kids may not get it as much as adults might, which is just as well, as it sometimes operates on a level like Antz did, only through the sphere of Disney. In other words, if you say the teaser trailer, which involved the out-of-shape Mr. Incredible trying with all his might to buckle his tights, you'll know what the film could bring. Personally, I can't wait to see it again.
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