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