← Back to Reviews

The Incredibles

by mark f
posted on 1/09/08
11. The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004)

I love everything about this movie. I realize that, first off, most people think of it as just a Pixar film or an animated film or a super hero film, but I think those tags for it miss the point of what I believe the film to be. It certainly tells a good story, not only in the context of a "family film" or the greatest James Bond film never made, but also in its overall creative presentation. The Incredibles displays sparkling wit and invention on almost every level: character animation, vocal expression, art direction/set design, the yummy musical score which sounds like it's from a '60s spy movie, only much cooler, and the use of both old-style "newsreels" and modern technology to make the plot more-complex and put the entire thing into larger satirical focus. This doesn't even mention the incredibly fast pace of both the editing and the verbal/visual humor.

A normal movie about super heroes wouldn't dig this deep into all the hassles inherent in being a super hero inside when the world won't allow you to express it on the outside. It also presents a family dynamic which is realistic in that it is so full of contradictions. The males in the Incredible family really want to express their super powers, while mom (Holly Hunter) knows it's better for the family (in more ways than one) to stifle them, just as the legal system and government have deemed necessary. The daughter is at the age where she's getting interested in boys but is very shy about this normal process and is able to use her power to help her get through it. The son just wants to be able to show off in sports once in awhile. The baby, well, we don't know about the baby...

Before I start sounding too serious and pompous about what I consider one of the most exhilaratingly FUN movies ever made, let me mention the "Incredible" supporting characters. Mr. Incredible's (Craig T. Nelson's) best friend Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) is one bad mutha, Jason Lee is a riot as a science/tech geek who wants to be Mr. Incredible's sidekick, and perhaps best of all, director/screenwriter Brad Bird plays Edna E. Mode, the costime designer to the super heroes, as a sort of cross between Edith Head and Linda Hunt.

All the gibberish above can just be ignored if you like, while I cut to the heart and soul of how I feel when watching The Incredibles. I feel like the giddy kid I was in the 1960s who fell in love with movies and cartoons. The main difference today is that I can love this film because it reminds me of so many other terrific films which are a part of me, yet it feels newer and more intense than almost all of them. Another thing I think about when I'm watching this movie is that it's a great FILM. I certainly don't think I'm watching a cartoon because these characters are real to me. I'm just glad that the technology is available so that a film classicist of the stature of Brad Bird can share this story with all of us.