Pixar animated feature puts a spotlight on a superhero family in crisis
In the middle of the 20th century, when every respectable metropolis has its own in-house superhero, Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) reigns supreme. However, after a series of spurious lawsuits ruin his reputation (some folks just don’t want to be saved, see?) and threaten to bankrupt the government, he, then-fiancée Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and good bud Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) are forced into the retirement home of the Superhero Relocation Program, consigned to the inglorious routine of regular citizens.
Fifteen years later we catch up with Bob Parr, the domesticated Mr. Incredible, as he shuffles paperwork at an everyman job. While the depressed superhero watches his gut grow, his wife Helen stretches herself thin shuffling around their three kids, the proto-Goth Violet, the aptly named Dash and the ambiguously talented Jack-Jack, while maintaining a period tract suburban home à la Leave it to Beaver.
With mid-life crisis sinking in, Mr. Incredible surreptitiously sneaks off with Frozone one evening to listen in on a police scanner, aching to join the action once again and save the day. And lo, with the disappearance of an undercover superhero advocate, the services of Mr. Incredible are once again required….
…and unfortunately, what had been up until this point an engagingly spot-on meditation on family life and the routine of the Average Joe as perceived from the outside weakens as it ventures into the territory of its own premise. When the Parr family kicks down with the action moves, the narrative begins to feel routine. Average, if you will.
A garden-variety Bond scenario kicks in as the superhero family-that-fights-together-stays-tight-together joins talents to stop the diabolical plans of a supervillain plotting to knock off all the superheroes.
Still, this obvious homage to The Fantastic Four still visually delights throughout. Written and directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant) with a retro style and an insane attention to detail (even going as far as to use the team’s logo for the cigarette burn), The Incredibles for the most part lives up to its name. It’s equally amusing for children and adults (of course, for different reasons), and the writing deftly matches the lush Pixar imagery.
However, one should be warned that The Incredibles features a fair amount of gunplay and children-in-peril situations. It’s rated PG for a reason, and the MPAA tends to be lenient with the ratings when it comes to the major movie manufacturers. And another word of advice: Don’t be late, or you’ll miss the engaging "The Incredits."