Brad Bird's THE INCREDIBLES
Review by Dennis D. McDonald
My son was home from college for the weekend. I packed him and his high school sister into the family chariot and we saw THE INCREDIBLES at the 10:30pm showing at the local multiplex.
The house was packed. The movie was terrific. We had a great time. Another Pixar triumph.
So what is so great about this movie? It’s funny, the action is nonstop, the characters are memorable, the animation excellent, the dialog is witty, the satire is clever.
And it’s fun. Viewed from the perspective of a parent in suburban America, a lot things true in a reflected-in-sitcom way. But it’s not cruel or backstabbing the way so many sitcoms are.
The direct and indirect references to Bond films and Bond-wannebees are rife in this film, down to the rocket inside the volcano in a lush tropical island with egg shaped elevated people movers.
Some action sequences stand out, chiefly the island chase and the finalcity robot showdown. Vehicle and machine design are a retro mix of cartoon and 50’s modern. But voice work, characters, and dialog dominate, with clothing designer Edna Mode’s diminutive Edith Head takeoff at the top, followed closely by Wallace Shawn’s Evil Insurance Company Boss.
There are no out-takes at the end even though we waited. I suppose they’ll release some in a few weeks to help get us back in the theaters for a second viewing.
A couple of other items. The sound design in the theater is spectacular with surround effects and sub rumbling constantly swirling around.
And, wow, a lot of babies were born during the making of this film! What’s Pixar doing - growing its own audience?
The movie gets better with repeat viewings. There’s so much creativity and fun on view here you can’t possibly see it all the first time.
The DVD’s wide screen image is gorgeous, and the surround sound is totally, um, surrounding. The details of character and dialog make this a pinnacle of modern movie animation.
The extras are very informative and instructive. We get to hear a lot from Brad Bird, the mastermind behind The Incredibles. He doesn’t just talk, we get to see him in snippets of video taken on a day to day basis — we actually get some sense of what it’s like to work at Pixar, warts and all.
There are a few humorous extras that stand out. The first is the commentary by Craig T. Nelson and Samuel L. Jackson that accompanies a faux late 50’s/early 60’s animated show featuring Mr. Incredible and Frozone. It’s a hoot - especially when Jackson/Frozone notices that Frozone looks white in the old animated version!
Another humorous item is a menu that provides more information about many of the retired (or deceased) “Supers,” including snippets of voice recordings. As an example of artificially detailed “back story” it is truly amazing.
Finally, check out the segment featuring Sarah Vowell who is the voice of teenage Violet —- this is really wild and funny stuff!
But my favorite thing about the extras, rather, my overall major impression, is that many of the folks who talk about this project talk bout the art, not the science. And it’s not just the story they are talking about here. They have used art to create an artificial alternate reality that is poised somewhere between here and ToonTown. In may ways the world that is created here is just as fantastic as what we see in Dark City, Sky Captain, and Sin City, channeled through the world of “cartoons.”
The Incredibles is an amalgamation of wild imagination and down to earth family issues, filtered through the art work of a group of visual, audio, technology, and multimedia professionals who, for some lucky reason, just have gotten the whole thing right. And how much of this was Brad Bird, how much was it getting the right mix of people, how much of it was having sufficient budget, technology, and other resources? That’s hard to say, but whatever they did, Pixar will have a very, very hard time topping The Incredibles.
Review copyright (c) 2010 by Dennis D. McDonald