The Incredibles

written and directed by Brad Bird

starring Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sam Jackson and Jason Lee


review by Stephen Notley


Yow! Zam! Whoof! I love this movie!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I was pretty down last week; for a while there it seemed there could never be anything good again. Then, Incredibly, came The Incredibles. Good things exist!

And The Incredibles is very good indeed. It's the perfect fusion of Pixar's well-known awesomeness with the genius of Brad Bird. Who's Brad Bird? Well, he was the guy responsible for 1999's The Iron Giant, a hilariously brilliantly beautiful movie. Haven't seen it? Get on it. It'll break your heart. And even if Bird hadn't made The Iron Giant he'd still be one of the greats for his work back in the early years of the Simpsons designing their animation style. So we're talking a real talent here, somebody in Hollywood who actually knows how to tell a story and kick your ass while doing it.

As is obvious from the commercials and posters, The Incredibles is about a superhero family and poof! just like that it's one of the best superhero movies ever made. The great thing about animation is that there's no reason to be stingy about showing superpowers, so every moment, every beat can be a gag. Bird's got excellent timing and his jokes are good; two minutes in we're laughing happily at Mr. Incredible trying to shake a cat off a tree and we're off to the races. The Incredibles simply throws stuff at you, cool jokes, wild designs, funny people, all in bright warm colors that stream in like sunshine,

Take Elastigirl. The moment she shows up she's excellent, oiling around Mr. Incredible, slinkying over the rooftops, an audible "whoa" from the audience. And Elastigirl as Mom is even better: I guarantee Moms all over North America will soon be frustratedly wishing they had Elastigirl's powers as their kids sit by the TV watching the Incredibles DVD for the 28th time. Voiced by Holly Hunter, indefatigable, Elastigirl one of the best characters I've seen in a movie all year.

But let's not forget Mr. Incredible, voiced by Craig T. Nelson of Coach and Poltergeist. He's real as a superhero, unironic, particularly in the early stages where he's chafing against his secret identity, getting visibly angry at his boss holding him in a meeting while a guy's getting mugged in the alley below. He's a hero, but he can be beaten. He can be worn down.

Now let's veer off and look at how awesome the designs are, oblate sphere-cars on tracks, rotorific descent podules, flying saucerblades, and Jesus, the robot, the Giant Robot, the Omnidroid megatentacle robor who ups the ante on Dr. Octopus by about a million.

And the action. My God the action. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the final battle, such an orgy of superheroic show-offery it literally boggles the mind. But it's more than just the big scenes, it's the cumulative effect of all the little cool imaginative bits and moments. Come to think of it, there really isn't any person or part of this movie that *isn't* a cool imaginative bit or moment, far too many for me to even scratch the surface or "spoil" in the space of a review.

And, like all excellent movies, The Incredibles has something to say. Of course it speaks highly of family, but the bigger theme is simpler, more childlike, the sheer joy of *doing*. This film is about amazement and ability, strength and courage, the possibility of shrugging off the things that hold you down from being the thing you were born to be. It's about being incredible. I'm happy this movie exists. This is not a "family" movie; this is an "everybody" movie. Go. Go twice.

Vue Pick, yo!