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Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Incredibles review

The Incredibles is Alan Moore’s Watchmen as conceived by Ben Edlund (creator of The Tick comic and cartoon). Too bad next year’s Cars will be the last project Disney and Pixar Animation collaborate on, ‘cuz the House that Mickey Built has NEVER before released an animated feature with so much mindless death and violence. I hope they do it again.

Leave it to Pixar to shed the light on the dark side of superhero life: a torrent of lawsuits from the very people saved from a trainwreck, government regulation and an obsessed fanboy who just won’t take “no” to being a sidekick for an answer. The only way out is a fate worse than death: consigned behind a desk as an insurance claims adjuster, damned to watch muggings and bank robberies from an office window but forbidden by law to use superpowers to make a difference in the world. The only thing allowed to be fought now is an ever-bulging waistline.

Welcome to the existence of Bob Parr (voice of Craig T. Nelson). Once the zenith of heroic fortitude as Mr. Incredible, he was forced to hang up his tights after the people he rescued from various disasters turn over-litigious and start costing the government millions of dollars in settlements. When superheroes are outlawed as a result his family gets relocated. He comes home every day to his beautiful wife Helen (Holly Hunter), the former Elastigirl (think Plastic Man doing Mr. Mom) and their three children: fast-as-Flash Dash (Spencer Fox), Violet (Sarah Vowell) - who closes herself off from the world behind a force-field almost as much as she hides from it by turning invisible - and baby Jack-Jack, who hasn’t developed superpowers… well, not yet.

You’d think that kind of homelife would be excitement to no end, but Bob is bored out of his skull. Enough so that after work while Helen thinks he’s gone bowling he’s really sneaking out with fellow former hero Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) to don ski masks and fight crimes. But then a mysterious offer comes to Bob, which happens to coincide with the disappearance of several other retired heroes. Before you can say “Shazam!” Bob is back in the saddle again… or at least the tight spandex. What happens after that becomes a threat not just to the safety of the entire world, but his marriage also.

My wife and I caught The Incredibles yesterday and after seeing all the other Pixar flicks, we thought this might be the funniest thing they’ve done yet. The appeal for me was that the movie taps into that same off-kilter humor that The Tick was known for: superhero action-comedy that’s NOT played for in-your-face gags. Think of the funniest moments in the two Spider-Man movies and make a full-length feature like that. If that’s the kind of thing that makes you laugh, plus if you want to see SERIOUS kick-butt computer animation and one of the most refreshing American-produced cartoons to ever hit theaters, go see The Incredibles this weekend. If you’ve seen it already, see it again. Then, see it a zillion more times. Or perish in flames. It’s your choice, but not really.