The Incredibles
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Brad Bird
voices Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L Jackson, Jason Lee, Elizabeth Peña, Brad Bird, Spencer Fox, Sarah Vowell, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger
release US 5.Nov.04, UK 19.Nov.04
04/US 1h50

A family affair: At home (above) and on the job (below)...

hunter lee jackson


24th Shadows Awards

The Incredibles Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
This magical collision between Brad Bird (The Iron Giant) and Pixar not only features mind-bogglingly inventive animation, as you'd expect, but the story is so full of heart and soul that you can actually feel it becoming a classic while you're watching it.

Bob Parr (Nelson) is the secret identity of Mr Incredible, one of many superheroes who save those in need. But lawsuits force the heroes underground, and 15 years later Bob and his fellow ex-hero wife Helen (Hunter) are living a "normal" suburban life with their three kids. Bob longs for the good old days and hangs out with his pal Lucius (Jackson), formerly Frozone, listening to the police scanner and helping people when they can. But it seems like a nefarious force might be at work.

Writer-director Bird knows that the most important elements are story and characters, and he never lets either get lost in the astonishing visual whizzery. The animation is spectacular--both characters and settings are created with wit and flair, echoing the sharp spirit of the script with a kind of retro-modern style. The attention to detail is brilliant. And when things get moving it's breathtaking; action sequences are thrilling, propelling the story and telling us about the characters, all of whom are expertly voiced.

These are extraordinary, well-defined people, and the vocal cast resist putting their own personalities into the roles--they're playing memorable characters here, not doing self-referential shtick. Even the kids have astute, sassy qualities that continually defy cliches. And there are lovely touches everywhere, most memorably in the hilarious Edna, an Edith Head-inspired seamstress voiced by Bird himself.

In his refusal to rely on hip cultural references, Bird creates a film that will easily stand the test of time. The only nods are to other classic genres--superheroes, alien invasions, James Bond--and there's not a pop single on the soundtrack! He also continually subverts the conventions of modern animated features, refusing to employ a rollercoaster structure and instead balancing the adrenaline-rush action with moments of genuine drama and sharp comedy that might leave small kids fidgeting in their seats. But that's unlikely with a story and characters this strong. Fantastic.

cert PG themes, action 17.Oct.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Incredibles Emil Smittenbumpinhumper, Berkeley CA: 5/5 "One of the greatest animated feature films of all time. The humor goes beyond oneliners and pop culture riffs. It is defined by its own content as opposed to the same rehashing of Matrix gags, mockery, pop culture and vain self-referencing (how many Hollywood gags are there in Shrek 2? Yawn..) you see in so many other films. It is too easy to contrast The Incredibles against other successful, yet forgettable, animated films. But it is not necessary to do this. The film really does stand on its own, and it truly is a classic. This film is like a potato chip. Once you get a taste, you just gotta have more." (23.Oct.04)

Donna Carter, Wisconsin: "I was surprised that several times when things were quite humorous, but M and I were the only ones laughing (were we the only ones who got it?). It's a great movie - entertaining and fun - a combination of superhero cartoons and James Bond-ish sci-fi (without the sex)." (26.Nov.04)

© 2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall