Reviews: The Incredibles

Not Pixar's best due to one element.

The Incredibles has a lot going for it. The animation is fantastic and still holds up almost a decade later (although this is Pixar, what else can you expect?), the vocal performances are good (Jason Lee as Syndrome was a good mixture of funny and evil) and its got quite a few very funny moments ("Honey, where's my supersuit?").

So why don't I consider it one of Pixar's best? It mostly comes down to one element - there was a strong stench of cynicism underneath the movie. The message of the movie seems to be "some people are just better than others and you have to put up with that." While there may be a grain of truth to that, that is not a good lesson to teach kids. And kids will watch this movie, despite what us adult nerds may think. Kids movies should teach children to enrich or try their best to better themselves as a person, not teach them to lie down and accept that there is always going to be someone better than you. It's horribly cynical and it just didn't sit right with me. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but its still a very unfortunate Accidental Aesop.

It's still a good movie but this one element somewhat spoiled it for me. Oh, and Edna Mode was awesome.

One of my personal favourites.

Oh boy, where to start. Well, I saw The Incredibles when it came out, when I was but a wee lass (har har)and I liked it. The jokes were funny, the action was awesome and it entertained me thoroughly.

Then I watched it again as a teen and this time...I LOVED it. Holy moley, did Brad Bird do well. The visuals are amazing each time I see them and watching the behind the scenes makes this movie seem all the more special to me. I could go on about the animation and music and style (and Samuel L. Jackson, squee!) but what caught my attention the most was the characters. In a family of five, we have middle-aged public servant Bob, his home-maker wife Helen who can hold her own and their three kids; the shrinking Violet (again, har har) the slightly obnoxious Dash and the baby, Jack Jack. At first glance, they're a family and I have to give kudos for how right and realistic they were made. Their problems were realistic, their bond and moments together were realistic. Every aspect of their relationship is done to perfection.

For example, Bob is a man (thirties, forties?) who is questioning his seemingly dull life. His job sucks and all he wants to do is go back to the glory days. Sure, not every man is a superhero but this is a very common situation in real life. And they don't just stop with Bob's character development, no, they go onto Helen's worries of a possible affair and keeping the family together. Young Violet is feeling invisible at school whilst having a crush on a boy. Dash wants to show off his talent and potential but is being held back by his parents (for good reason, but held back nonetheless). During the movie, all four of these colourful characters go through changes, some straight-forward and other more subtle moments. This is one of the movie's strongest points, in my opinion, because I bet in theaters families would see this movie with their children and relate. Except for the whole, ya know, powers thing.

I won't comment much on the moral of the movie as it's up for debate but in my opinion it's about family sticking together no matter what comes their way, to trust and love despite all doubt. And when I grow up and have my own family, this will definitely be one of the movies that I, along with my kids, will whole-heartedly enjoy.

An unfortunately frequently misinterpreted film

The moral of The Incredibles is NOT "some people are just better than others, deal with it". It's "don't throw away your life & family in pursuit of glory." Bob & Syndrome both exemplify this, one learning his lesson, the other ignoring it.

Bob is a former superhero, forced into retirement when the public outrage over supers becomes too much for the government to handle. He can't stand having to live a normal life, where he's backwards & levels below everyone else. He doesn't connect with his kids, is forced to answer the whims of his shifty boss, & often sneaks out with his fellow super buddy for late-night rescuing thrills. When he gets the chance to resume hero work for a mysterious organization, Bob jumps at the call & can't believe his luck. But he's forced to realize the consequences when he discovers he's been furthering a villain's plans, & in the process put his family in danger.

Bob's turning point manifests when they're all captured and he's confesses how he was too caught up in the past: "I've been a lousy father, blind to what I have. So obsessed with being undervalued that I undervalued all of you. You are my greatest adventure, and I almost missed it."

Compare Syndrome. He wants the same glory that Mr. Incredible had, cares nothing about civilians, & views hero work as a fame ticket. He's the one who's misinterpreted the message to be "deal with living with people who are better than you". He wants to overcome that, & could do so. But he would be a horrible hero if he succeeded (Just look at how he threw that truck in the city!) He threw his whole childhood away, his inventive genius, & even his perhaps girlfriend away just so he could be an idol. His motive is glory, not equality. The result? He underestimates those who are just pawns to him, so both Mirage & the Omnidroid take steps to lock his fall.

The film has multiple character development lines, Violet's shyness, Dash's vanity, etc, so it's easy to miss Bob's too. But so it's clear his arc is the true message of The Incredibles, since Brad Bird wrote it as a reflection of his own career. So if there's any moral it wanted to send it, it was that one about family & not that "the supers should rule us."