Ages 11 and under
Male and Female
Animated Family Film
After all the mass reboots and cinematic universes created around our favorite superheroes, it is no surprise that 12 years later, The Incredibles remains the most realistic movie about supers ever put to film or print.
In the city of Metroville, three of the world’s most respected superheroes: Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone, are interviewed by the press about their secret identities. These supers right from the introduction appear like humans with personal hopes and feelings to share. Mr. Incredible shares his ambition to retire hero work and start a family someday, but Elastigirl sees herself at the top of her game. What’s brilliant about this intro is that the opinions of these two leads are about to reverse.
As all the action starts for these crime fighters, Mr. Incredible gets caught up in the superhero work, despite the fact that he and Elastigirl are about to get married on a relatively crime-heavy night. He feels that he’s at the top of his game right now, gaining success and attention from the world, until he gets pummeled by lawsuits from a saved suicidal citizen and a following of more injured civilians “rescued” from a fatal train disaster. Next thing he knows, superheroes are forced into the Superhero Relocation Program, preventing their public use of superpowers. Now there’s something Captain America won’t have to worry about!
Fifteen years pass, and Mr. Incredible, now living under secret identity Bob Parr, is fighting the crimes of mid-life crisis with his insurance career. When not at work, his responsibility is to support his wife Elastigirl (or Helen Parr) and three kids: Dash, Violet, and Jack-Jack. To escape his mundane sham of a life, he is left to do just one thing: force his old pal Frozone (or Luscious) to sneak out of the house with him every Wednesday night to listen over police scanners, hoping for opportunities to save the day.
Each family member’s superpower complements their individual inner crisis to a dime. Bob has super strength because he has the burden of holding up the family, Helen has elasticity because she has to stretch past her limit to keep all plates in the house spinning, 10-year-old Dash has super speed because his hyper-energy prevents him from wanting to rest, 14-year-old Violet has invisibility with force fields because that is how she sees herself, and little baby Jack-Jack has no apparent superpowers… yet. On top of all the conflicts that a super family like this would have, you could easily imagine the hilariously relatable family issues that would erupt, as if watching a sitcom.
Sure enough, their closeness as a family is put to the test after Mr. Incredible joins a top-secret mission with an undercover governmental branch. Turns out this “mission” is set up as bait to bring him to an old fanboy who wants revenge on him for not accepting him as a sidekick. It forces Helen to resume hero work to rescue her husband, the kids joining in on the mission.
The story itself feels grand, but what feels even grander is the setup of the world. It starts with a nostalgic 1940’s feel complete with the classical superhero scenario of rescuing a cat from a tree. After jumping over fifteen years, Bob’s insurance office takes on a pale and boxy look where everything is perfectly symmetrical with no imperfections. Outside this dull prison is a world that reminisces retro art styles of the1950’s. When the story goes from the suburbs to the villain’s castaway, everything jumps 100 years into the future, exploding with creativity. Every set piece and choice of color in this feature ought to be studied in animation courses thanks to its powerful contrast with nostalgic callbacks against aiming toward the future.
It disheartens me though to say that this probably is not Pixar’s best. It’s not nearly as saddening as the other classics such as Finding Nemo or Up, and the entertainment value simply is not for everyone. But for the common everyday family, young, old, in between, The Incredibles saves the day and then some.
There are two different messages communicated in The Incredibles: remain in what’s happening now, and everyone should use their unique abilities. Together, they generate the essence of what makes a family great. One thing that I love about this movie is how the two leads, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, each value one of the two things while giving no care to the other. In the end, they each get what they want, but not without learning from the other, just as a marriage in real life works.
Mr. Incredible, or Bob Parr, is like any other man facing a mid-life crisis; he wishes to go back to the old days, and eventually finds a way to escape and live like the old days. It may be paradise to him, but it costs him a tremendous deal: his high-paying job, the trust of his wife, and the safety of everybody he loves. Elastigirl, or Helen Parr, likewise resembles any woman in that same stage of life; she is so worked up by the rules that she won’t even let her kids feel special in their abilities.
Many people can relate to Mr. Incredible in the struggle to remain in the present moment, or Elastigirl in the struggle to encourage kids to be special. It truly requires a mastery of knowing how to relate to the other family members by meeting their needs. If somebody has autism, even finding the desire to meet the needs of the family can almost feel impossible.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #94: Relationships Are Not Always a Priority.
It’s not that people on the spectrum don’t want a relationship with their families, but rather that it’s difficult for them to express the desire of forming connections with others. For myself, I grew up always wanting time to myself. I would spend hours drawing or playing with my Lego sets, and I never took action to form real friendships until I was in high school. Again, it wasn’t that I had no desire for relationships, in fact I occasionally found myself enjoying the time taken to talk to someone when the subject flew around my line of interest. It’s just that forming relationships with people was never my ultimate priority.
You could argue that a lot of people are like that, especially when they’re still kids. What makes it different with autism is that their inability to understand social cues blocks the capacity to even know how standard relationships work.
Six-Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome, Lesson #34: We are Socially Clumsy and Unaware.
If you come from a family that has people on the spectrum, then it is almost a guarantee that these types of issues are all too well known. You may have heard plenty of stories about kids who can’t stand to be touched, or get overwhelmed by the constant noise outside the home, or create all sorts of fights with siblings, the number of family issues surrounding autistic needs could go on and on, and the cases are different for every family.
Relating back to The Incredibles, someone with autism could be like Mr. Incredible, where he is always trapped in another reality rather than the here and now. For me, this was undeniably true, as even when on family vacation my mind would wander into some sort of fantasy where cartoon characters from my favorite TV shows would follow me everywhere. Likewise, a family with autism could be like Elastigirl, where they try to make the autistic child fit with the rules and perfections of the world around him, erasing what makes him or her special.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Lesson #35: One Wants to Make Him Normal.
Here is what I most want to stress: every member of the family is an important cog to the clock. While my Dad is an expert with business and technology, my Mom is an expert with writing and editing, my sister is an expert at medical care, and I am an expert at storytelling and philosophy, we all benefit from one another. In that same way, your family members need one another too, no matter your mental capacities.
- Every family has their own unique abilities to contribute and create your family’s unique genetic makeup. Similar to how the team of Incredibles in this movie use their powers as one, how can your family’s unique traits benefit one another?
- If you have autism and are struggling to find the desire to form relationships with your family, start by talking about stuff with them that you know you both have in common. With my dad, we both love certain movies like Men in Black or Terminator 2: Judgment Day. With my mom, we both love going to art museums. Everything else from there just comes naturally.
- If you are a parent of a child with autism, think of unique ways to include him or her in family activities. An example could be playing board games together that don’t require speaking if your child is nonverbal.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
9 Life Lessons from The Incredibles. Digital image. Oh My Disney. Disney. Web. <https://ohmy.disney.com/movies/2015/11/05/9-life-lessons-from-the-incredibles/>.
The Incredibles. Disney. Web. <http://movies.disney.com/the-incredibles>.