The Incredibles
directed by Brad Bird
(Pixar, 2004)

You might feel hemmed in at work, misunderstood by your neighbors, but you've got nothing on Bob Parr.

He used to be broad of chest and muscular of bicep, a regular Mr. Incredible among superheroes. But then, what with lawsuits and court cases from the disgruntled folk saved by superheroes, the government has put Mr. Incredible and the rest of his kind in sort of a superhero protection program -- you know, kind of like capping those jury awards -- giving the former superheroes desk jobs and homes in suburbia.

By day, Bob Parr settles insurance claims, squeezed in a cubicle that hardly contains the girth he's adding like a faded athlete. By night, he mopes in his home office, surrounded by memorabilia of his glory days as Mr. Incredible. His wife, Helen - a.k.a. Elastigirl -- is limited to using her superpowers for things like stretching out her arms to separate their constantly bickering children.

It's Pixar's latest creation, The Incredibles, and it takes the crises and conflicts of life as an adult, and raises the ante -- because now, these characters aren't just mourning the loss of the power they had in their 20s, they're mourning the loss of their superpowers.

It's a great mix of the marvelous and the mundane, given a spur when the retired Mr. Incredible is contacted for his assistance. It's too much of a temptation for an ego that's been reduced to sneaking out on "bowling night" to follow police scanner calls with his buddy, the former Frozone.

Mr. Incredible's soon joined in action by his wife, who's furious he's not really at an insurance conference as he claimed, and their stowaway children, Violet (who can throw force fields) and Dash (whose nickname is self-explanatory). Together, they must battle the evildoer Syndrome, without letting their all-too-human foibles get in the way of their superhuman effort.

It's all Pixar at its best, with its usual mix of jaw-dropping animation and a quirky look at tiny details (when Mr. Incredible gets his top-secret, self-destructing instructions, the self-destruction feature sets off the smoke detector and sprinkler system in his home).

Plus, The Incredibles boasts some of the most imaginative action sequences in recent movies, with more than a nod to James Bond and the Pink Panther-esque scores of Henry Mancini.

- Rambles
written by Jen Kopf
published 23 April 2005

Buy it from