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  Incredibles, The More Power To ThemBuy this film here.
Year: 2004
Director: Brad Bird
Stars: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Spencer Fox, Sarah Vowell, Elizabeth Peña, Brad Bird, Wallace Shawn, Dominique Louis, Teddy Newton, Jean Sincere, Lou Romano, Wayne Canney, Bud Luckey, Kimberly Adair Clark, John Ratzenberger
Genre: Comedy, Animated, Science Fiction, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Fifteen years ago, superheroes battled crime and evildoing across the world, it was a golden age when ordinary citizens could sleep soundly in their beds knowing many powerful individuals were looking out for the safety of society. One of those heroes was Mr Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), who was blessed with humungous strength, and he would patrol in his specially designed car, always taking the time to break off from his day to day work to help and assist, whether that be rescuing a cat from a tree or stopping an armed bank robber in their tracks, but for every benefit that came with assisting humanity, there was a drawback, such as a hanger on like Buddy (Jason Lee) who wanted to be his sidekick. And soon the drawbacks outweighed the benefits...

Which took us up to the present day and a point where superheroes had been outlawed when they were seen to cause too much trouble - and damage - and Mr Incredible found he had to knuckle down in a boring desk job instead of smashing through walls. But this was a film about family, and that's what's supposed to make his life worth living, so why does he feel as if he is now missing out on life looking after his wife and children and providing for them like an ordinary person? In a story rich with themes, here was one that could have been contentious, that not everyone is special, some folks are deeply unspectacular, not hugely talented, will never amount to dizzy heights of success: the average person, basically. That writer and director Brad Bird got away with that was surprising.

And unfashionable in the usual climate of animated movies aimed at family audiences, but get away with it he did, and that was because most people who watched it identified with at least one of the Incredibles, therefore regarded themselves as that bit more important than their fellow public since they would have liked to be heroes too, hell, they could easily slip into that role given half the chance. Mr Incredible, or Bob Parr to give him his real name, is wed to Helen (Holly Hunter), aka Elastigirl in her previous life, and the kids Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Spencer Fox) and baby Jack Jack have inherited their parents' abilities in different ways. Not that this makes them a happy unit as fitting in has rendered them miserable, knowing they have these amazing qualities but forced to keep them secret, again, a very attractive plot point.

So when Bob has the chance to give up alleviating his heroism by listening to police radios with old colleague Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) and acting on what they hear to recapture the old days, he jumps at it when it means he can use his superpowers once again for a top secret mission or two. He has to keep it secret from his wife, so little wonder she starts to think he's having an affair, which brings in the other major theme: unforeseen consequences. Bird highlighted that even do-goodery of the highest intentions has results not as helpful as the do-gooder might have hoped, beginning with the original heroes getting sued by the public for the damage they cause trying to save their lives, which has led to the sorry state of affairs Bob is in now, fuming with unchannelled frustration those missions can finally allow him to get off his chest.

But each member of the Parrs has their issues, as Helen is intent on keeping things as everyday as possible which has led her joie de vivre to utterly escape her, and the children are either misbehaving out of boredom (Dash) or cowed and shy (Violet) to the extent that they're barely living at all. What they all need is to go on that mission dad has been enjoying, which is what happens when it has more of those unforeseen consequences, and oddly for a film billed as a superhero comedy perhaps it got those "modern life is rubbish" elements rather too acute in the first half to be quite as funny as you might have anticipated. Bird's best superhero movie remained The Iron Giant, which didn't do anything like the business The Incredibles did, but that could have been down to the latter production using a tried and true formula, or two in fact, mixing the characters of The Fantastic Four with the storyline of Alan Moore's Watchmen, and doing rather better than the official versions of both. But if it was derivative and heavy in some ways, it was designed superbly, another Pixar winner. Music by Michael Giacchino.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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