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The Incredibles

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Incredibles

Starring: Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Brad Bird
Rated: PG
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: November 2004
Genres: Animation, Action, Family, Kids

*Also starring: Jason Lee, Craig T. Nelson, John Ratzenberger, Brad Bird, Elizabeth Pena, Wallace Shawn, Sarah Vowell

Review by Harvey Karten
3½ stars out of 4

You expect quality from the director of "The Iron Giant"–Brad Bird's 1999 animated feature that pokes fun at 1950s paranoia and sci-fi movies. Five years ago, Bird introduced us to a boy who befriends a huge robotic creature from outer space that was as misunderstood as the Frankenstein monster. This time the satire is not as sharp, though a sendup of 1950s conformity could serve as a tagline.

"The Incredibles," arguably the most technologically advanced feature of Pixar Animation Studios, take place on two planes. In one, the superhero known as Mr. Incredible demonstrates how no good deed goes unpunished. The second aspect of the film deals with Mr. Incredible's miserable life where, having retired from the job of saving people from villainous elements becomes an insurance adjuster, barely fitting his now overnourished frame into a cubicle where he tries against company policy to help little old ladies win their claims.

Mr. Incredible (voice of Craig T. Nelson) has been put into a Superhero Relocation Program because of growing lawsuits against him for helping people who have neither asked for assistance nor welcomed his meddling. He believes that with three kids; Violet (Sarah Vowell); Dashiell (Spencer Fox) and Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile and Maeve Andrews); it's only fair to move to the suburbs where every ticky-tacky house so looks much alike that the scene could motivate a Pete Seeger song in the soundtrack. He's under pressure from his wife, Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) to continue with his drab job and to stop thinking of returning to his life as a superhero.

The members of this super family each have a special gift. Dash runs so fast that he's coached to slow down lest the judges in a race think he never moved from the finish line. Violet can make herself invisible and generate bubbles that cannot be penetrated. Elastigirl, like her name, is the female form of the comic book hero, Plastic Man, able to stretch her arms and legs about a block long. Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), who lives next door, can freeze his enemies in much the way that the villain in "SpongeBobSquarePants" is able to ice Mr. Krab.

Much of the story revolves around efforts of this super family to fight against two basic enemies. One is a giant robot–a choice you might expect from the creator of "Iron Giant"–that can crush everything in its path. Two is the creator of the robot, Syndrome (Jason Lee), humiliated when Mr. Incredible refuses to take him on a his mentor and now, given Mr. Incredible's disappearance into the government protection program seeks to usurp the hero's former role albeit for evil purposes.

There is much in the movie that reminds us at once of 007, Indiana Jones, and the cast of "Mission Impossible," particularly Michael Giacchino's powerful and pervasive, jazzy music. The jungle island where Syndrome has his weapons of mass destruction is protected by a vast security device as in "Dr. No."

But "The Incredibles" at 115 minutes outlasts its welcome and becomes involved in repetitious adventures, making the satiric look at 1950s suburban conformity not only the best part of the movie but the one segment that could over the heads of the eight-year-olds in the audience. In short, not as much of a breakthrough as "The Polar Express," which uses real actors to go through the motions taken up by the animation characters, but filled with action, suspense, and parody.

Copyright © 2004 Harvey Karten

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