The Incredibles

This movie is amazing. Brad Bird (voice of Edna Mode/director of The Iron Giant) writes and directs this refreshing bit of superhero flick, infusing it with plenty of heart and tons of laughs. And he does it all while mocking the superhero culture founded in comic books. Like how villains will “monologue” about their greatness while the hero plots his escape. Or how capes on costumes are a BAD idea. But it takes it all a step further by beginning with the premise that all heroes have been relocated by the government because the people they rescued started suing them for medical damages. So now it’s government agent Rick Dicker’s job (voiced by Bud Luckey (more on him later)) to help manage their secret identities. Of course with superheroes out of a job, that puts their costumer, Edna Mode, out of a job. Naturally she switches to super models…but it’s not quite the same. So when Mr. Incredible shows up, she’s naturally dying to make a new suit for him. Inspired by costumer Edith Head*, this eccentric designer is arguably one of the funniest characters in the film. Especially her monologue against capes on costumes. “NO CAPES!”

The voice acting is top notch (par for a Pixar film) with Craig T. Nelson as patriarch Mr. Incredible, Holly Hunter as mother hen Elastigirl, and introducing brand new kid actors in the roles of the Incredible children. Samuel L. Jackson (in his animated feature debut) is wonderful as Incredible family friend Frozone, who has control over…you guessed it…ice. It was actually really impressive to watch his character in action, because he would turn the ground ahead of him into ice and then skate across it. Doing this continually, all you see is the forward motion of his hands as he “shoots” ice onto the ground ahead of him so he can keep in motion. It was just so freaking sweet that I could gush non-stop about it.

Pixar regulars Wallace Shawn (Rex the Green Dinosaur) and John Ratzenberger (Hamm the Piggy Bank, P.T. Flea, Yeti and School of Fish) both lend their incomparable talents: Shawn as Mr. Incredible’s diminutive boss and Ratzenberger as the super villain Underminer. And they also gave Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas (two of Walt Disney’s original animators and members of the elite Nine Old Men) cameos. That was really cool.

Oh yeah…you can’t forget Jason Lee as villain Syndrome. He plays the disgruntled sidekick role to perfection. And who can forget that little nod to Jason Lee’s past when Mr. Incredible (in trying to recall the kid’s name) calls him Brody. Chalk up another freaking sweet thing for this movie.

The character developments where nice too. I especially liked Violet’s story. She’s your stereotypical middle/high school girl, shy, awkward, with the ability to turn invisible and to generate force fields. She’s been taught all her life not to use her powers (because of the whole relocation program thing), and when she can’t help her mom, she feels guilty. Of course it all works out for the better, but it’s the fact that I actually cared/knew how she felt really touched me. The whole movie really touched me.

Then there’s Dash. I’m a huge fan of speedsters, and to see a child speedster in action is even better (think Impulse of DC Comics). The whole chase through the jungle was just fun. Especially where he grabs a vine and slides at super speed to the ground in what would have been burning agony (friction), but his suit can handle it. Reaching the bottom he screams “I’m alive!” which alerts other guards to his position. It was really funny.

Overall the movie kept me on the edge of my seat…when I wasn’t laughing my ass off. It really suspended disbelief for me, because I felt totally immersed in the story and in what was going on. I especially loved it when the family gelled as a team during the climatic battle scene in the jungle because it was just beautiful. Like how it would feel to watch…oh I don’t know, maybe a Fantastic Four movie?

There was (at least in my mind) a common thread/theme that ran through the movie similar to that in Spiderman-2, where a hero doesn’t believe he is strong enough to protect his loved ones and so pushes them away, denying them the right to take their own risk. The movie is really about the family ties that bind us, make us strong…but in turn are our weaknesses.

It surprised me that the emphasis (in the marketing campaign anyways) on Mr. Incredible’s weight was only a minor issue in the movie itself (the part where he’s being crammed into that tube and the soldier jams the button down?). I mean, it’s not the first time that a trailer hasn’t been the end-all-be-all of a movie, but everything that was Incredibles related joked about Mr. Incredible’s weight. No Gut, No Glory. Twice the Hero He Used To Be. The teaser trailer where he can’t buckle the belt. I laughed at all of these, but then it wasn’t a focus of the movie. Frankly, I don’t even know why I’m focusing on this aspect of it. I mean that concept couldn’t even fit into the movie except in the one little moment where it is. So I’m happy. I guess I’m just miffed at Disney’s PR department for misleading the focus of the movie. But then again I’m also miffed at Michael Eisner for mishandling the Pixar account…but that’s not what this movie review is about.

This movie review is about how wonderful the movie was.

It’s also about the Pixar short before the movie. I really enjoyed Boundin’ because a) it’s a hilarious premise (a sheep who is so self-conscious about his fleece that when he looses it, he is crushed) and b) I LOVE JACKELOPES! Ever since America’s Funniest People and Dave Coulier introduced me to the creature, I’ve loved them (“Fast as fast can be, you’ll never catch me, tee hee hee”). Also, the short drives home the fact that Pixar is a place where dreams come true. The short is entirely the brainchild of Bud Luckey who not only wrote and directed the short, but provided the voices for all the characters. It’s how Pixar works. You come up with a story idea, watch over it through the process of development and creation, then sit back and watch as people enjoy it (of course this is all based on what they’ve shown me through all the special feature tours they put on their DVD’s). Boundin’ is a touching story about how no matter what life throws at you, you can always bound back and it drives the point home thoroughly and enjoyably.

Oh yeah, it’s also about that freaking amazing Star Wars Trailer before it. Oh my God! Revenge of the Sith looks so cool. I mean you barely get a sense for what’s happening as you watch it, but I just had goose bumps all over watching it.

*Okay you got me. I didn’t know who Edith Head was the fist time I watched it. But one of my friends told me, so now I know. HA!

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