‘The Incredibles’: A reminder of Pixar’s peak


The Incredibles (2004)

Directed by Brad Bird

8.5/10  PG

Some animated movies get better with age. Ten years ago, “The Incredibles” (from writer/director Brad Bird, “Ratatouille”) became one of Pixar’s smartest, most mature, and most respectable feature films. It has remained so for the past decade, as Pixar has seen its ups and downs. “Cars 2”? Really? Fun and meaningful for the whole family, “The Incredibles” shows relationships tested, family bonds strengthened, and cities united for the common good. It flips superhero movie clichés on their back, dissecting the universal stories for something worth watching.

Craig T. Nelson and Brad Bird in The Incredibles (2004)

When Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) got married, they had no intentions of hanging up their supersuits. But when they had kids and saw their heroics were no longer needed, they put that life behind them for good. They became Bob and Helen Parr. But when a plot to destroy their city puts Bob in danger, Helen will introduce her kids (played by Spencer Fox and Sarah Vowell), who also have super powers, to the life she once lived. And they’ll all have to work as a family to stop the evil (mainly a jealous super-wannabe named Syndrome, voiced by Jason Lee) threatening to destroy their livelihood.

Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Vowell, and Spencer Fox in The Incredibles (2004)

But Helen isn’t excited. She retired from superhero work! Her marriage is threatened in a very real way when she finds out Bob has been lying to her. The kids are hurt. Relationships are not as close as they once were. These aren’t PG emotions. But the family that fights together stays together, they’ll discover. This is an atypical family with typical family problems. Strength doesn’t always refer to physical ability. The Oscar-nominated super-script is unlike most animated films. And with phenomenal voice-acting from all involved, these complex emotions are spoken with live-action clarity and meaning. But also insane humor! Samuel L. Jackson, as family friend and former superhero Frozone, is the most insanely awesome and funniest minor character in animated movie history! Challenge me on that. Director Bird throws his own voice in the mix as supersuit designer E, a squatty old woman with immense attitude. Bird is hysterical. Along with “Monsters Inc.” and “Toy Story 3,” “The Incredibles” remains one of Pixar’s funniest.

Jason Lee and Craig T. Nelson in The Incredibles (2004)

A jazzy score from Oscar-winner Michael Giacchino (“Up”) is an homage to the film’s superhero serial roots. But “The Incredibles” takes the super-standard and turns it around. Vibrant, fluid animation incites the same excitement, and you’ll find yourself cheering as you see these superheroes showing off their super-skills.

You won’t find many animated films quite so maturely meaningful and immaturely hysterical as “The Incredibles.” Suit up and revisit an instant animated classic.

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