Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell, Spencer Fox, Jason Lee, Elizabeth Pena
Plot: After several lawsuits, the government silently initiates a relocation program, which forces superheroes to permanently adhere to their secret identities.
Where do you go when you are one of the most exciting animation studios around with five – let’s not beat it around the bush – incredible animated features to your name? Toy Story changed the game in the animation world, a high concept idea (toys coming to life), that showed Disney studios that the animation business was a big enough field for more than one player. The rest of Pixar’s filmography consisted of stories that picked a subject and showed the world through the eyes of something alien to us. The world through the eyes of bugs, fish and the monsters that hide in the closet. What was next for a studio that was nervously raising the bar far too high? The answer was, of course, superheroes…
Looking back from the bloated superhero era of 2018, costumed crusaders seem fairly old-hat. The same could arguably be said for 2004 when Incredibles came onto the scene. Batman movies were rampant, Spiderman was smashing the box office and Marvel were beginning to churn out films at a scary rate – although no universe-building was present at this phase. If anyone else threw their hat into the ring, they would be laughed out of the room. But Pixar had already proven that they could take on Disney at their own game? Why not tangle with the superhero world in the process? Pixar tackle the busy genre, as they usually do, from an angle no one had thought of yet. They ask the question of who are superheroes when no one is looking. After a neat prologue set-up, where the public turn against the city-destroying heroes and the government are forced to relocate them. The action re-opens with ex-heroes Mr. Incredible, married to Elastigirl, living a domestic life, raising three kids, each showing early signs of superpowers. Mr. Incredible works in a heartless bank. Their son, gifted with superspeed, has to learn to hold back on Sports Day. And their eldest, Violet Parr, struggles with the issues of being invisible in high school, a problem accentuated by the fact she is prone to actually becoming invisible. The story, in itself, is just as cliched as the usual superhero film with a mysterious call to arms, paired with the disappearance of ex-heroes across the map, resulting in a megalomaniac villain trying to take over the world. But the superhero side of the film is strangely not quite important. It is the gaps between the action where Pixar plant their flag. They examine the heroes in such fine detail that they celebrate the ordinariness of them all. Mr. Incredible can punch a bad guy across a room while Elastigirl holds off a horde of villains, as the pair of them have a domestic dispute. There is petty sibling rivalry thrown into a dash through a forest from armed guards. The best gag of the entire movie sees Samuel L. Jackson trying to race into rescue mode, but he cannot find where his wife left his costume. It is brilliantly Pixar, the kind of material that only this production company can come up with. The entire film rests upon the charm that you truly are watching something that screams Pixar’s unique blend of originality and creativity. Throw in heart-warming family morals and some solid voice performances – I could listen to Holly Hunter all day – and you have yet another winning Pixar product. Is there anything this movie cannot do?
Besides, who doesn’t love Edna Mode, the eccentric fashion designer for the superhero world that has a single scene in the movie, but leaves as the best character in the whole thing?
Final Verdict: The Incredibles is so uniquely Pixar that its charm and originality breaks through a busy genre and holds its own. In a word, incredible.