A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 140 – The Incredibles

The Incredibles – July 18th, 2010

Andy suggested watching this tonight as a follow-up to our X-Men fest of the past few nights. Truth be told, we really should have done it after Fantastic Four, but we were in the middle of our Kevin Bacon thing and while Craig T. Nelson, Helen Hunt, Samuel L. Jackson and Jason Lee (not to mention Wallace Shawn) could have gotten us places, we already had a plan. So we didn’t. Which is a pity, as the parallels are pretty obvious. There’s one hero who’s all stretchy, one who can go invisible, one who’s super strong and okay, we’ve got a speedster instead of Johnny Storm, but there’s fire eventually. It’s pretty obvious that the Fantastic Four were an influence, but not so much that I think it runs the movie. It’s really more a homage type thing, and it borrows from all over the superhero genre.

We join the world of the Incredibles with disasters in progress. The basic introduction plot has a similar theme to Watchmen but without the nastiness and blood and all. It’s a cleaned up version. Despite the fact that superheroes do amazing things and save people they also cause problems. Hancock touched on this too, which is good, because I’m serious here. Meta-human insurance! So eventually the government makes all the superheroes go into hiding so they can stop paying out huge sums of money to people whose buildings get wrecked by them. And so we come to Mr. Incredible and his wife, the former Elastigirl, who are now married with three children and trying to live normal lives in a sort of superhero version of the witness protection program. Mr. Incredible’s not having too easy a time of it. He works for a nasty insurance company and hates his job. His wife’s doing okay as a stay at home mom, but is frustrated by her husband’s lack of dedication to keeping a low profile. Their daughter and elder son both have powers and are also frustrated, though they’re frustrated at having to hide what makes them special. It’s all a perfect set-up really. Of course it’s easy for the villain Syndrome to lure Mr. Incredible out of hiding, eventually drawing all four superpowered family members to his evil lair on Nomanisan Island before the real climactic battle back in Metroville, where Mr. Incredible’s old friend Frozone pitches in to stop Syndrome and save the day.

If I had to make one complaint about the movie it’s that it seems so clearly delineated into two parts. Ignoring the introduction, there’s the before and the after. There’s the boring regular life, and then the action. Sure, there’s a mid-point where Mr. Incredible’s going behind his wife’s back and doing what he thinks is hero stuff while she maintains their ordinary lives, but it doesn’t take long to go from ordinary to super. There’s a montage, for goodness sake. It’s a minor quibble, given that I enjoyed both parts, I just wish they’d been meshed a little bit better. But given that the movie is almost two hours long anyhow, I can see how that might have made for a time crunch.

It’s a fun movie, really. For a lot of reasons. The voice acting’s fun, and it’s great to see the two younger Incredibles come into their own with their powers. Dash’s wild-eyed enthusiasm and Violet’s growing self-confidence are really well-portrayed, both by the animators and the voice actors. Maybe a couple of the action scenes could have been shortened a tiny bit, but watching the animation of the various powers – especially Elastigirl’s – is definitely worth it. Edna Mode is a truly great minor part and I’m genuinely sad that there’s no real chance of a superhero costume challenge with Edna as a guest judge on Project Runway. But what really makes it for me is all the call-backs to various superhero tropes, like Edna’s No Capes montage (which makes me wish they’d worked in a Dollar Bill reference there) and the overall style of the world, which is a sort of retro 50s vibe that fits right into the classic superhero mood. It’s sort of a parody? But a loving one that wants to be part of it all at the same time and manages it just fine.

July 18, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , ,

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