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The Incredibles Review

By Joe Lozito

Hero Worship

Pixar has a track record for quality that far surpasses any live-action studio (the "Toy Story" films, "Monsters, Inc", "Finding Nemo"). It is becoming cliché to say, "Pixar has raised the bar on digital animation" - which, I suppose, is the highest compliment they can be paid. With it's newest offering "The Incredibles", Pixar blows even "Nemo" out of the water.

Helmed by Brad Bird ("The Simpsons" and the widely underappreciated "Iron Giant"), the appropriately named "Incredibles" tells the story of a superhero, Mr. Incredible (a surprisingly perfect Craig T. Nelson), forced into a superhero's version of the witness protection program due to an overly litigious public. He lives as Bob Parr in an unnamed suburb with his wife, Helen, formerly Elastigirl (a sweetly maternal Holly Hunter), and their three kids, Dash (a Ritalin candidate with super speed), Violet (an awkward teen with powers of invisibility) and baby Jack Jack, whose powers are yet to manifest themselves.

As Bob, Mr. Incredible toils away in a 9-5 job as an insurance agent, but he finds it hard to suppress his calling: he is a superhero. So he moonlights with his friend and fellow superhero Frozone (a refreshingly jokey Samuel L. Jackson), listening to the police scanner and stopping petty crimes. Still, this is not enough for Bob and when he gets an invitation for some heroic deeds from a mysterious stranger, he can't resist.

Eventually, Bob uncovers a plot which mirrors Alan Moore's brilliant comic "The Watchmen". While Mr. Moore's world was bleak and without hope, Mr. Bird keeps the jokes flying and the mood light. Pixar's films have always been fun for children and adults, but the welcome adoption of Pixar's first PG rating ("Iron Giant" was PG, but not Pixar) allows Mr. Bird to put his characters in real peril, keeping the stakes high and propelling "The Incredibles" far out of the world of "children's movie".

The animation, of course, is stunning (witness the waterfall which works as an entrance to the villain's lair), adding a heretofore-unseen depth to digital animation. The production design is endlessly creative (note the architecture in the home of Edna Mode, the "Q" to Mr. I's James Bond - voiced by Mr. Bird himself) and the writing is witty without being condescending. More than raising the bar on digital animation, Mr. Bird may be ushering in a new age of animation with adult storylines. In a word: Incredible.

What did you think?

Movie title The Incredibles
Release year 2004
MPAA Rating PG
Our rating
Summary 'Iron Giant' creator Brad Bird somehow manages to raise the bar at Pixar yet again with his story of a retired superhero brought back into action with his equally super family in tow. Stunning production design, pitch-perfect writing and the by-now-requisite jaw-dropping animation make this one of the best animated films of all time.
View all articles by Joe Lozito
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