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.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!