Animated film (2004). Disney/Pixar Animation Studios. Written and directed by Brad Bird. 120 minutes. Cast includes Maeve Andrews, Bird, Spencer Fox, Eli Fucile, Holly Hunter, Samuel L Jackson, Jason Lee, Craig T Nelson and Sarah Vowell. Colour.
Superhero Bob Parr (Nelson), known as Mr Incredible, is forced into early retirement – along with his colleagues – by lawsuits over the collateral damage of his crime-fighting heroics. Fifteen years later, Parr is disgruntled, overweight and middle-aged, working as an insurance adjuster to support his variously Superpowered wife Helen (Hunter), alias Elastigirl, teenage daughter Violet (Vowell), son Dash (Fox) and baby Jack Jack (Fucile/Andrews). Under pressure to conform, the Parr family keep their powers a secret, although the effort to be unexceptional frustrates them all. However, when a disgruntled fan turned super-Villain as Syndrome (Lee) threatens the Parrs it provides the impetus to bring the family together. Working as a team, with help from Mr Incredible's old buddy Lucius Best alias Frozone (Jackson), the Incredibles not only save the City from Syndrome's out-of-control demolition Robot but win enough popular support to prompt a resurgence of superheroes.
The Incredibles effortlessly mixes comedy, action and heartfelt familial bonding. Although primarily a children's film, it proved popular with all age groups, in large part due to its sympathetic middle-aged characters and witty lampooning of comic-book clichés. A particularly delightful cameo is fashion designer Edna Mode (Bird), who specializes in superhero costumes and knows all the pitfalls: "No capes!" Elements of The Incredibles owe a heavy debt to such Comics touchstones as The Fantastic Four (family powers include Bob's super-strength, Helen's elasticity, Violet's Invisibility and Force Fields, and Dash's super-speed) and Alan Moore's Watchmen, but the resulting mix is fresh and funny. The film was a resounding success and won the Hugo for best dramatic presentation (long form), the Academy Award (Oscar) for best animated feature, and numerous other honours.
Brad Bird's experience both as director and screenwriter of animated movies and television episodes is considerable. Earlier genre work included the screenplay for *batteries not included (1987) and directing The Iron Giant (1999). [JN/DRL]
Previous versions of this entry