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The Incredibles

November 7, 2004

Director –
Brad Bird

Major Actors –
Craig T. Nelson …. Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voice)
Holly Hunter …. Helen Parr/Elastigirl (voice)
Sarah Vowell …. Violet Parr (voice)
Spencer Fox …. Dashiell ‘Dash’ Parr (voice)
Samuel L. Jackson …. Lucius Best/Frozone (voice)
Jason Lee …. Buddy Pine/Syndrome (voice)
Elizabeth Peña …. Mirage (voice)
Brad Bird …. Edna ‘E’ Mode (voice)
IMDB Information

Analysis –
Pixar is a new measuring stick for story, humor, and visual presentation. Their first movie with a PG rating proves that the quality of their work continues to shine despite more serious topics and slightly darker material. The Incredibles is a sad, happy, touching, hilarious, and outright gripping movie. Anyone who misses the chance to see this action movie cum-family drama is doing themselves a disservice.

Voice Acting :
As the animated and cg movie portions of the industry have increased in size and popularity, the number of people who have voiced a role in such a film has increased. The capability to grasp part of the actor’s performance has improved as well, resulting in dramatic performances that lead into the animation of a character and not the other way around. Therefore, the complex displays of emotion that the voice actors manage to get across via their vocal performances become that much more evocative because there are visual cues for the audience to grasp as well. Everyone in the film did excellent and competent jobs of carrying their characters through the story. A few folks really jumped out at me. The pater familias, Mr. Incredible, is voiced by Craig “Coach” Nelson. If you’d told me that the guy making dumb sports jokes on a sitcom would give the kind of performance he did, I would have been mighty surprised. One of the underlying themes of the film is the inherent humanity in the capes and cowls set, and Nelson does a fantastic job of laying that out for us. Jason Lee plays the antagonist in this film and my heart literally leapt with joy to see him taking on an interesting role in a film that is going to make more than a penny. While I greatly enjoyed his work in Kevin Smith’s films, my hope is that this outing can get him out from under the shadow of Brodie and Banky. The third performance that really stood out for me, and the one I watched most closely during the movie was that of Sarah Vowell’s, a Salon contributor, writer, and NPR commentator. Her portrayal of Violet was the most subtle and interesting one in the entire movie. I hope she found voice work agreeable so I’ll have more on-screen work to enjoy alongside her written contributions to our species.

Writing & Directing:
Pixar films are fascinating, in that the writing and directing are often done by the same person (for obvious reasons). The Incredibles is no exception to this formulae, and Writer/Director Brad Bird gets to add a third title to his work on this film, that of voice actor. He fills in the pumps of Edna Mode, designer to supermodels and superheroes alike. While I enjoyed some of the other performances better, he did a fine job and got some of the biggest laughs in the movie with her quirkily helpful zeal. Beyond his voice work, the thought of his impact on animation is pretty staggering. His work on this film is a testament to animation as a whole This film together with his The Iron Giant speaks to the power that story and style can create in the animated format. His writing is smart and witty without being egotistically clever (a problem Simpsons and Buffy sometime fell into), and his action sequences are stylistic and fast while still being completely understandable. He’s obviously a talented man, and I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.

Animation:
Pixar did an exercise during the animation process of Finding Nemo to see what level of realism they could achieve in their work. The crispness and detail of the resulting animation was so hyper realistic that they had to cartoon the animation process up a bit to ensure that there wouldn’t be a disconnect for audiences. The slight bit of cartoonishness carries into The Incredibles, and for good reason. A realistic supers movie might have been hard to take. Even with that self-made handicap, the level of detail the Pixar animators have achieved in this film is nothing short of breathtaking. I was watching at several points and literally caught my breath because of the beauty of a scene, or the crispness of a visual, or the speed of an action sequence. At one point several of the family members take a dip into the ocean, and I grabbed my fiancee’s arm and whispered “Look at the hair!” because it shone and clung and clumped and hung just like human hair. Another moment in the film finds Mr. Incredible setting down a woman onto the ground and his hand passes right through her long hair in a completely natural way, the individual hairs parting like a curtain of rainwater. If for no other reason than that it’s a wonderful technical feat, this movie demands to be seen.

Movie Overall :
Here’s how you make a perfect film: Write a story that has humor, wit, action, and a natural dialogue. Fill the film with wonderfully human moments while allowing the audience a brush with the fantastic. Combine crystal clear and beautifully crafted visuals with excellent vocal performances and a stellar cast. Then line the whole thing with a bend that allows the audience to see that the film has a message, and never ever refer to the message in the film. Let the audience infer what it will without ramming anything down the onlooker’s throat. The Incredibles is nigh onto a perfect film, and is a work that anyone of any age could sit down and watch with anyone else. As long as everyone in the room grew up human, they’ll have a good time.

Personal Rating
This movie is worth buying.

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