Published on November 8th, 2004 | by Erich Becker0
Review: The Incredibles
Computer animation has come a long way since the debut of Toy Story in 1995. Since then we have seen Pixar Animation Studios re-up itself four times, with each successive movie getting better and better. We have also seen DreamWorks emerge to try and steal Disney/Pixar’s crown of best in the business. While Shrek and Shrek 2 have the pop-culture references and one-liners to make them stand-out hits, Pixar’s films, like The Incredibles, have the ability to stand the test of time and are destined to be classics for generations to come. This isn’t to say anyone will forget the Shrek series of films, but where Pixar takes a different road and subject with each film, DreamWorks runs the risk of milking Shrek straight into mediocrity.
The Incredibles, from director Brad Bird, lives up to its name. Simply put, the movie is incredible to watch and gives us everything we expect from Pixar’s sixth full-length outing. Like the Toy Story series, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo, The Incredibles relies on a smart, witty script crafted for adults and children alike, although things are a bit different this time around. Pixar’s previous movies seemed to balance the jokes between adults and children, satisfying both groups adequately, but with The Incredibles, the scales seem to be tipped in favor of more adult oriented jokes that will fly right over the heads of children. One example of this is towards the climax of the film when a group of guards prepare to have a drinking game while watching monitors of Syndrome’s (Jason Lee) creation tear apart the city. I laughed, really loud, or so it seemed with no one else making a peep in the theater. Still, parents shouldn’t be hesitant to let their children view the movie, as most of the more “mature” jokes won’t even be noticed.
What will be noticed is the PG rating, and the amount of press it has received in the last couple of weeks. This marks a first for Pixar, who obtained G ratings for all of their previous releases, but it doesn’t hinder the movie in any way, simply because the animated violence, even as realistic as this, is still so cartoon-oriented that no-one will be taking it seriously. Although mostly taking place off-screen, this film has, by far, the highest body count for any animated Disney film.
As with any animated film, the quality of the animation is only one part of a complex puzzle, the other is excellent voice work, and The Incredibles excels just as we thought it would. The cast is headlined by Craig T. Nelson (Coach) as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible and Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl who do an excellent job playing husband and wife, superhero leads. In an underutilized supporting role is Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone. This is one of the parts of the movie that left me a bit disappointed, the lack of exploration of Jackson’s character. He was prominently featured in the trailer, but isn’t on screen for much of the movie. Stepping into the villain role of Buddy/Syndrome is Jason Lee who is his usual marvelous self.
The Incredibles really shows how Pixar has evolved, not only in story telling, but in animation as well. Seeing Toy Story, and then nearly ten years later seeing The Incredibles side by side is an eye candy treat. When I first saw Woody and Buzz hiding under a pick-up truck at the gas station in Toy Story I was amazed. Now I see realistic explosions and a robot tearing apart cities built in a retro-60’s style and my jaw still hits the floor. The animation shouldn’t overshadow the story (something Sky Captain couldn’t overcome) but with Pixar they are six for six when crafting intelligent stories and appeal to all ages.
There isn’t much else I can say about The Incredibles that hasn’t already been said here or on another site. The film is full of life, interesting characters, great animation, humor, action, violence, and pop-culture references. The film has the legs to stand the test of time, and while it may never be the box office success that Shrek 2 has become, the film stands, right now, as the finest film to come out of the uber-talented Pixar Animation Studios. With all the studio’s wrangling with Disney aside, this company can put out an excellent movie worth of the label “Ten Best of the Year.” If you love movies, it is your duty to see The Incredibles, as I’m sure you will be just as entertained as I was.