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In a comic book world full of heroes and powers,
Which nonetheless isn’t too different from ours,
Strong Mr. Incredible uses his skills
To stop evil, you know, just everyday thrills.
The day that he marries Elastigirl, though,
Is one he’ll regret, for in fighting a foe,
He makes one, and supers are forced to lie low.
Years later, he’s stuck in a job that he hates,
With kids and a wife who’s content with their fates.
In trying to relive his old glory days,
He captures a secretive agency’s gaze.
Things start looking up when he stops a robot,
Until he’s betrayed by his sponsor and caught.
A fan has become the new villain Syndrome,
Who plans to wreak havoc and falsehoods back home.
When Helen goes searching for him high and low,
With speed demon Dash and shy Violet in tow,
They’re threatened as well, but when family fights,
They do so together…and in matching tights.
They race to the city to stop Syndrome’s plot
And take out his deadlier rampaging bot.
When Syndrome is vanquished and peace is renewed,
These heroes defend when new villains intrude.

While The Avengers is a better movie strictly in the superhero genre, The Incredibles offers even more: a believable family dynamic, an insightful comparison of talent versus fitting in, and yet another example of Pixar’s groundbreaking animation. Released during Pixar’s golden years, The Incredibles didn’t quite please me upon my first viewing for some reason; perhaps it was because I had already seen two other films in the theater that day. Future watchings have only improved my opinion of this exciting family favorite.

The world full of supers depicted at the beginning is practically a comic book come to life, full of routine heroics, gleeful admirers, fancy tech, and “playful banter”; from what we’ve seen, it’s not surprising that Mr. Incredible thinks they’re untouchable. Yet the story takes an unforeseen realistic turn, with lawsuits and accusations and an eventual suburban nightmare in which Bob Parr, like Jack Campbell in The Family Man, finds no satisfaction. (The only major plot hole I can see is that of supervillains, which I assume existed in the world at the beginning. It seems to me that the main reason for the existence of superheroes is to combat supervillainy, which wouldn’t obey some government sanction anyway. With all the heroes off-duty, who’s to stop the likes of Bomb Voyage or worse?)

Craig T. Nelson is ideal for Mr. Incredible, able to vocalize both oppressive boredom and heroic spirit, while Holly Hunter brings feminine resilience to his wife Helen/Elastigirl. Their son Dash (Spencer Fox) fits perfectly into the mischievous son archetype, while Sarah Vowell as daughter Violet is a bit annoying until she gets into costume. Indeed, all of the Incredibles look better with their black masks; perhaps it was intentional in the character design, but they all seem lacking without their matching red super suits. Other great voice performances come from a pre-Nick Fury Samuel L. Jackson as Bob’s pal Lucius/Frozone and director Brad Bird himself as snooty fashion designer Edna Mode.

As with so many of Pixar’s Oscar-winning features, The Incredibles combines a number of outstanding elements to perfection. Michael Giacchino’s suave yet bombastic score blends with the stylish gadgetry to create a distinctly James Bond feel, while the familiar superpowers (borrowed from the properties like Mr. Fantastic, the Flash, and the Invisible Woman) are used to ingenious effect, particularly Elastigirl’s elongated scuffle with guards and Dash’s thrilling jungle chase with those awesome bladed hovercraft. Not to mention the costume lesson that caused us to never look at capes the same way.

One of the few great superhero films to not possess a comic source material, The Incredibles won Academy Awards for both Best Animated Feature and Best Sound Editing. Mature enough to take seriously matters of marital infidelity and superhero genocide, yet lightweight and comedic enough for repeated family viewing, The Incredibles continues to be one of Pixar’s best. While most of Pixar’s films don’t need sequels (though that hasn’t stopped them), The Incredibles is one that could certainly deserve one, which is in the works, last I heard. I only hope it can compare to the original.

Best line: (Lucius) “Honey?”
(Honey) “What?”
(Lucius) “Where’s my super suit?”
(Honey) “What?”
(Lucius) “Where – is – my – super – suit?”
(Honey) “I, uh, put it away.”
(Lucius, after an explosion) “Where?”
(Honey) Why do you need to know?”
(Lucius) “I need it!”
(Honey) “Uh-uh! Don’t you think about running off doing no derring-do. We’ve been planning this dinner for two months!”
(Lucius) “The public is in danger!”
(Honey) “My evening’s in danger!”
(Lucius) “You tell me where my suit is, woman! We are talking about the greater good!”
(Honey) “’Greater good?’ I am your wife! I’m the greatest good you are ever gonna get!”
Rank: 59 out of 60

© 2015 S. G. Liput

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