This is a top class, incredibly great fun computer animated story that spoofs comic book heroes and Bondian adventure stories, in the guise of a look at a "typical" American suburban family.
Think the premise of the LOST IN SPACE movie where a sci-fi-ish type story acts as the basis for character conflicts of a small family group. Now think of the THUNDERBIRDS movie where those conflicts are played out on a large action-packed stage in a faraway tropical island. Now ... imagine a film where those ideas was played in such a creative way that they actually ***worked***!!! Then you have THE INCREDIBLES.
The set-up is brilliant; starting off with a TRUMAN SHOW type idea of superheroes being interviewed about their work, and their reaction to their lifestyle. Then we have a set-up which demonstrates our main heroic lead, Mr Incredible, saving the day with bank robbers and a cat - all while on the way to his wedding with another superhero - Elastagirl. Then the complications set in; some unscrupulous lawyers are taking advantage of the consequences of our hero's good deeds, and superheroes fall out of favor with the general public. They all go into hiding.
Cut to several years later where the ex-Mr Incredible and Elastagirl, aka The Parrs, are trying to live "normal" lives as a suburban family; with their children - a angsty teenage daughter, a hyperactive young son and a baby. Mr Parr has a dead-end job at an insurance company with a midget of a boss; the two eldest children are having difficulties coping with the pressure of school life, and the tension is starting to cause things to break - literally. Then, suddenly, Mr Incredible is secretly called away to a dangerous mission requiring the work of a superhero again. But everything isn't as cosy as it seems...
In the style of playing a typical sitcom-type domestic drama up against the shenanigans of comic book escapist fantasy and James Bond type adventure, Brad Bird has managed to hit a winning combination that plays to the strengths of both genres without falling for the pitfalls of either mostly. Craig Nelson and Holly Hunter as the voices of the two leads manage a good balance of warmth and strength to their performances. In addition to writing and directing, Brad Bird does additional duties as the voice of the hilarious fashion Meister Edna Mode, with some of the best one-line throw-away situations in the story; and Bird's son Nicholas (who played Squirt in FINDING NEMO) gets to play a young boy watching on the sidelines who acts as a Greek chorus to the domestic situation. And Kevin Smith stalwart Jason Lee has a great role in the obsessed fan who becomes the prime antagonist.
The computer animation has again moved ahead with this film, the water effects (especially with the wet hair) was particularly impressive. I always thought that computer-drawn humans in the past have tended to look very anorexic; but finally they had some muscle added to their figures. And the set detail on the island, which is the stage for most of the action sequences, is very rich and colorful; it seems to be a homage to my fav Bond movie YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE with a bit of the THUNDERBIRDS, FANTASY ISLAND and THE PRISONER thrown into the mix. Plus the comic timing and panache of the whole story really holds the whole thing together - making for one helluva tight movie!
Great fun story, that should hold up for quite a few years. My biggest regret is that the brilliant scene in the initial trailer wasn't included. Oh well, can't win 'em all now - can we?
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