Daily Archives: March 26, 2022

The Incredibles (2004)

*. The Incredibles was a big hit for Pixar at a time when they were a studio that couldn’t go wrong. It spawned a sequel and is still fondly remembered by many. Looking at it with fresh eyes (I didn’t see it when it came out, so mine are virgin) was its success justified?
*. Basically Mr. Incredible is a Superman-type hero who marries Elastigirl, who is stretchy like Reed Richards. They have three kids who also have superpowers: Violet can turn invisible and generate a protective forcefield, Dash is the Flash, and there’s a baby with so-far untapped potential.
*. After a legal meltdown (something similar would be used for the Marvel Civil War plotline) The Incredibles, now known as the Parrs, take up new identities as suburban nobodies. But Mr. Incredible still wants to play the hero and soon finds himself enlisted by a mystery man to do various jobs. Until it turns out that the mystery man is actually a supervillain with a grudge against Mr. Incredible, leading to a climactic battle that draws in the whole family.
*. Acknowledging that this isn’t the kind of thing I’m interested in, I have to say that even so the story let me down. I didn’t find anything about it interesting. The villain is a Bond rip-off (his base is even in a volcano), and aside from one scene where Elastigirl got caught in a series of doorways I didn’t think any of the action was imaginative or new.
*. I also didn’t care much for the animation. Lots of big eyes and plastic-looking faces that double-down on making the characters look like dolls (or toys). I actually found myself enjoying the end credits the most, which were done in the more traditional cel-animation style.
*. But then all superhero movies today are basically CGI animation anyway. The battle with the deathbot at the end here looks nearly exactly the same as the fight with the giant starfish creature at the end of The Suicide Squad. A blockbuster movie today is CGI. It’s not just a tool but what the medium of film has become.
*. Of course there is the usual family-friendly message to it all. They even hit you over the head with it at the end as Dash exclaims “I love my family!” And that’s fine as far as it goes. But I thought there was a more annoying subtext.
*. The point I think they want to make is that being different is good. This is much the same idea you get in Marvel movies. The X-Men, for example, have to overcome society’s prejudice against mutants. But then there’s the extra turn of the screw that wrecks everything. The mutants are actually homo superior (as Magneto has it). Difference isn’t just to be celebrated; being normal has to be despised.
*. This is very much the point being made here. The Incredibles try to fit in but normal life is so boring and normal people so awful. I mean, they aren’t just losers, but they’re bitter about it. They’re like Mr. Huff at the insurance company, or Dash’s teacher. But most of all they’re like the villainous Syndrome: the wannabe superhero who turns heel. He has no actual superpowers so he invents his own. But nerds aren’t allowed to crash the superhero club. That’s a genetic lottery, and normies have to stay in their lane.
*. Is this the sort of message a kids’ movie should be presenting? As I say, it’s one thing to say it’s OK to be different, but quite another to slag someone who is only average as being behind a sinister conspiracy of mediocrity.
*. There were also some stereotypes thrown in that made me shake my head. Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) seems not far removed from old-school ethnic humour. And why is Elastigirl upset about what her middle-aged ass looks like in spandex? If she can stretch herself into any shape she wants, why doesn’t she give herself a butt lift?
*. I did like the voice work of Craig T. Nelson as Mr. Incredible and especially Holly Hunter as Elastigirl. And though I don’t care for the style of animation it’s certainly polished and easy to look at. So if it’s your thing then have it. But it’s not mine, and I’m not sure the messaging stands close examination.