favourite bit? You know, the bit when she gets stuck in
three doors? The bit when the baby's taken into the air!
The bit when he loses his temper with his boss, oh, and
the car? The bit when the missiles hit? The bit where the
boy comes second? The bit when… I could go on all
day. I just wished the movie had too. Watching The Incredibles was like opening Christmas
presents, the next sequence more grand than the one before.
well known by now that Pixar, the most successful movie
company in history (on the number of movies made, amount
of money made basis) has knocked another one out of the
park (to use an American baseball metaphor). There was one
whinge from Newsweek (over a line of dialogue that
warns children that in today’s climate they too are
targets and after Beslan, that really hit home) but from
the rest of the press, praise and hosannas. I can only add
to the tidal wave of biased journalism, another water droplet
in a wall of water. Pixar are as gods - but (a big but,
a little like Elastogirl’s) I am not praising the
obvious. The medium of CGI has been well lambasted not least
by your humble narrator on this site. But the brilliance
of the animation, the clarity of pixel power, the dizzyingly
colourful milieu doesn’t hold a candle to what Pixar
does best, what is so lacking in Hollywood's output in recent
and all of its super-human parts are primarily STORY-TELLERS.
They tell stories like no other company out there right
now. And they presume intelligence and acute observational
powers from an audience. They reward us with detail undreamt
of in any blockbuster screenplay meeting. I can't imagine
having a conversation with any of these storytellers without
there being a camp fire burning. They signpost and pay off
like no one else and just when you know (you are certain)
the story is going either down road one or two or…
all the way to nine hundred and ninety nine, they shift
gears and warp factor down road one thousand. Flying. Supersonic.
With knobs, bells and whistles on. It's joyous.
and director, Brad Bird, is something of a hero himself
to those who love outsiders. Despite his enormous popularity,
Homer Simpson can be regarded as such for the simple cumulative
mass of quality ideas and laughs that oafish idiot has generated.
Bird was on The Simpsons for ten years,
He also adapted Ted Hughes' The Iron Giant for traditional cell animation (I believe the giant was
CG). That movie was a marvel and critically lauded but for
some reason, it made little impact on the box office. Its
similarities to the essential ambience of The Incredibles are marked. Bird seems to riff off the cosy Tupperwarean
idyll that America believed it was in the fifties. It's
a rich vein. I would argue that if Disney is to be saved,
then it's the sequel rights it has on Pixar's movies that
will be the rescuer - as long as they can get Pixar to make
the sequels but alas. Steve Jobs (Pixar) and Michael Eisner
(Disney) do not see eye to eye (I think Steve's taller)
and Pixar are now looking for potential suitors. I can't
imagine a dearth of offers, can you? Disney's cell animation
is first rate. Its storytelling blows goats. "Hey!"
exhorts a Disney executive creative consulting associate
producer at a power lunch. "Let's tell the story of
the three bovines in western times and a rustler who yodels!" Home on the Range anyone? Holy cow.
you locked Marvel’s Stan Lee and Watchmen’s
Alan Moore in a phone booth, you might just end up with
the storyline of The Incredibles. It's
The Fantastic Four, nudged to the side, living in the world
of super heroes gone civilian. This is to take nothing from
Bird's achievement. But it's important to note that the
elements Bird is juggling are well known. Perhaps that makes
his movie more laudable. So, in brief; a super strong Mr.
Incredible and his buddy Frozone are keeping the city safe
until a suicidal swan diver accuses the big lug of 'ruining
his death'. Lawsuits pile up like chins on Uncle Monty.
Mr. Incredible (or Bob Parr) and his family have to go undercover
and disavow their super-past. A super villain tempts Bob
out of retirement, his aim to slaughter all super heroes
so he alone can save the city from robotic dreadnoughts
of his own making.
guess what? The movie is not about super heroes, super feats
and super powers. It's about family. It's about being true
to yourself within the confines of a compromise (that's
another word for marriage). Yes, the humour runs through
it like Dash over the ocean but the warmth of the relationship
between the married couple is what gives the film bite,
poignancy and caritas. You care big time. When the husband
and wife kiss (I mean it’s CG!) it's really touching
even though they are not (to be literal for just a moment).
voice talent is pitch perfect, with Bird himself taking
on Edna, an Edina Monsoon-like, and shrew costume designer
with a voice that is a subtle reworking of Rosa Klebb from From Russia With Love. Craig T. Nelson
(the patriarch of the Poltergeist movies)
gives Bob dignity and at one point, his delivery of "I'm
not strong enough," roused a mega-lump in the throat.
I could happily listen to Holly Hunter until Disney's cows
came home. Her barks as a lowly police officer in Raising
Arizona, "Turn to the right…" still
make me smile. She makes Elastogirl the central core of
the family. That honey-rich southern accent (I dumbly thought
in my youth) should surely have been a stumbling block to
an actor but someone with this much talent? You write a
southern character to have her in your movie! Presto. Frozone,
the freeze-powered super hero, is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson.
I could not help but think of his turn in Deep Blue
Sea ("You should see ice!") and there's
a direct scene quote from Die Hard With a Vengeance.
Brad is obviously a fan. Who wouldn't be but I do wish Sam
wouldn't do adverts for banks… That’s not cool
even though the money 'earned' would probably pay for his
an aside - and I may have misread this as I’ve seen
it only the once. There is a moment when Mr. Incredible
as Bob Parr returns to his house and outside the kitchen
(coming in through the back door) he waits before coming
in. He waits. In a movie that moves faster than technology
itself, he waits. I wondered for a while thinking this a
small detail, or a glitch that could have easily been excised.
Then it hit me (as I say I may have misread this). He was
looking for his keys. You have to love him for that, a CG
character more human than human.
running time was also a jaw dropper. That movie was two
hours long? Most animated movies struggle to reach the ninety
minute mark but The Incredibles could have
sailed past two hours and I honestly (a) wouldn't have noticed
and (b) wouldn't have cared. I'm off to see it again in
four days and as odd as this sounds I'm really looking forward
to it. Again. And on DVD? Again and again and again.