First released in 2004, The Incredibles remains a Pixar classic. It starts off like a lot of superhero movies. Oh, look: Here’s a superhero, super-strong and super-set on doing good things galore. Here’s a villain—oops, what a surprise, he got away. And here’s our potential love interest. But then…what’s this?
Our superhero and his love interest get married not 10 minutes into the film. And then (cue a surprisingly realistic and cynical society…) things fall apart for superheroes in general, in a string of lawsuits. And then we fast-forward more than a decade to find our superhero trapped in permanent undercover, as a very frustrated insurance claims adjuster on the bleeding edge of losing his job again. And, from there, The Incredibles takes off.
I like the story because it works well on several levels. It’s a fun tale of escapism, with a middle-aged guy given a second chance to become the hero of his youth. It works well as family drama, with all the family members learning to use their own strengths, rely on each other’s strengths, and work together. It’s a fine comedy, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. It even manages to convey some good messages (perhaps most notably, not taking those around us for granted), without beating the audience over the head with them.
Characters shine, as well. Not literally (one has to specify that, with a superhero movie). All the main characters were (in)credible and sympathetic. Edna is one of my favorite characters, ever. As a costumer, I adore her and wish I had access to her fabric stash. The main villain was…not the greatest Pixar has ever made, but they did a great job of giving him credible motivations, and a villain who’s convinced he’s not the bad guy at all can be pretty darn creepy.
The animation in The Incredibles is more than a decade old, so one might look at it now and think of how subsequent films have done a better job with fill-in-the-effect. But, at the time, Pixar was (as usual) leading the pack, for animation quality and technology. And I still admire how well they created the classic-super-hero vibe, not just in the film’s visuals but also in the soundtrack.
Be sure to watch the extras. The included short films are gems.
I’m excited for The Incredibles’ sequel (due out in 2019). Given how the superhero movies genre has kind of exploded in the intervening years, it will be very interesting to see a new Pixar take on it.
Release Date: November 5, 2004 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (very brief social)
Sexuality: 1 (some intense but tasteful kissing between Bob and Helen (a.k.a., the married parents))
Violence: 2 (lots of fighting, animated peril, offscreen deaths of other superheroes, nothing graphic)