Monday, June 28, 2010
I was a late Pixar convert; I still haven't seen any of the Toy Story movies. But I am a fan of animation done well, because if done well, anything thing is possible and plausible. I did somehow see A Bug's Life on accident or by some ancillary means (i.e. some girlfriend or something), and I did enjoy it. But The Incredibles was the first Pixar film I purposefully paid to see; in fact I saw it in theatres by myself back in '04 for the sole reason that it was about super-heroes, which I have a soft-spot and hard-on for. And only during the opening credits was I pleasantly surprised to find that it was written and directed by Brad Bird, who created one of my favorite films, if not my favorite animated film, The Iron Giant (actually, I'll have to revisit that thought later, but I fucking love that cartoon).
The aforementioned Brad Bird writes and directs. The voice talent is supplied by none other than "Coach", Craig T. Nelson, as Incredible patriarch, Mr. Incredible (super-strength, invulnerability), as well as Holly Hunter, Mr. Incredible's wife/baby mama, Elastigirl (super-stretchy). Samuel L. voices Frozone (subzero coolness), and Jason Lee does the super-villain voice of Syndrome.
Synopsis and Stuff
The story about a family of super-heroes. It's definitely been done before (the Commish has a new show about one, No Ordinary Family), but never with the power of Pixar.
The film begins in the past, where we're introduced to several super-heroes via old-timey, narrated news-reels. This world's "Superman" is a fellow by the name of Mr. Incredible, whose secret identity is Bob Parr. He enjoys the life of a care-free, bachelor superhero, occasionally teaming up with his buddy Frozone, but never taking on a sidekick. His biggest fan, teen-aged Buddy Pine, has trouble accepting this latter bit, and insists on assisting Mr. Incredible. With no powers of his own, Buddy uses an array of gadgets to try and stop Bomb Voyage from robbing a bank, but bungles the job and enables the villain to escape. Mr. Incredible and Frozone are forced to clean up the mess, humiliating and scolding Buddy in the process, and consequently making them late to Incredible's wedding to his new-found love, Elastigirl.
Shortly thereafter, a series of lawsuits from injured bystanders results in the government banning super-heroics. Cut to the present, where Bob and Helen Parr now live extremely boring lives in Municiberg, with their super-children Violet (invisibility/force fields), Dashiell (super-speed), and baby Jack-Jack (appears normal), all of them forced to suppress their powers in public. Bob, now an insurance agent, hates his job and secretly sneaks out with Frozone to fight crime. One day, Bob's fired for losing his temper towards his boss (voiced by Wallace Shawn, who's Vizzini from The Princess Bride (5 stars) and who I thought was dead), and is dreading telling his wife, when he finds a video message from the beautiful Mirage, who covertly hires him to take out the killer robot, Omnidroid 9000, on a remote island. Incredible handles the job with ease, and takes on more assignments for Mirage, making lots of money and keeping the loss of his real-life job a secret from his wife and family. Bob is eventually led back to the island, where he discovers that Mirage and the Omnidroid actually work for Mr. Incredible's would-be side-kick, Buddy Pine, who now goes by the super-villain moniker, Syndrome, and who traps the hero, forcing his family to attempt a rescue. Syndrome ultimately reveals his evil plan of luring the world's super-heroes to his island to fight the Omnidroid, improving the robot's weaknesses each time, and killing the do-gooders in the process. After seemingly destroying the Incredible family, Syndrome takes his robot to the city, and stages a fight with the monstrosity to win the hearts of the public. The animated shit hits the fan, and the Incredibles escape from the island to save the day, but not in the way you'd expect (hooray Jack-Jack!).
Brad Bird's stories are laced with the love and nostalgia of Golden Age comic-books and fantastic tales. But he doesn't alienate those of the audience who don't give two shits about any "Age" of comic-book by just telling damn good stories, with lovable characters, ingenious plot twists, and with the help of Pixar tech, seamless animation. So for 115 minutes, I forget that I'm an unemployed 30 year-old man watching cartoons. Not that that would stop me.