Welcome to the Pixar Rewind! Over the next couple weeks, we at Rotoscopers will analyze every Pixar film ever, and what makes each one so great. At the end of the series, and after the release of ‘Inside Out,’ we will have a fan vote to determine which film is the best of them all!
Before I begin this article, let me mention a disclaimer. I LOVE The Incredibles. Not only is it my favorite Pixar film of all time, but it is one of my favorite movies, period. I’ve been obsessed with this movie for the past decade and, in a way, it’s one of the movies that made me fall in love with animation and its possibilities. So, yes, I admit that I am biased.
Finding Nemo broke a number of box office records, making Pixar the king of CG animated movies. By 2004, it was clear that Pixar was no one-hit wonder, and that with films like Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, and Finding Nemo this studio could do no wrong. Naturally, expectations were sky-high for Pixar’s next big film.
This time around, Pixar did something different: it brought in an ‘outside’ director. Brad Bird was, at the time, known for his work on The Simpsons and, of course, The Iron Giant. In fact, Bird pitched the idea for a superhero animated film back in the late 1990s, when The Iron Giant was a commercial disappointment. The Incredibles would become Bird’s second feature film, which he wrote as well as directed.
A note on Bird’s incredible work on this film: the idea for Bob and his family came from his personal family experiences and career goals at the time. He developed the concept of a superhero family that faced personal struggles at the same time. The entire film was developed from Bird’s fascination with the 1960s version of the ‘future.’ Finally, Edna Mode is voiced by Bird himself. This is proof that he is one of the greatest filmmakers of our time.
The Incredibles came at a time when there were very few superhero movies, let alone animated superhero movies. There was no Avengers, no Iron Man, no Dark Knight. Superhero films were more an exception than – as they are today – a rule (2015 alone has had a new Avengers, and will see an upcoming Ant-Man and a Fantastic Four reboot).
At the core of the film is a mundane family. Bob, formerly ‘Mr. Incredible,’ is done with his superhero days and spends his days at a dull 9 to 5 job. Helen, formerly ‘Elastigirl,’ is more focused on homemaking duties and taking care of the three kids (Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack). Bob craves a chance to relive the glory days, and he gets this very opportunity in the form of a top secret assignment. When this turns out to be a plot to take over the world, the entire family is called into action to save the day.
From the outset, it feels like a Saturday morning cartoon (which is actually referenced later in the film). It has the superhero, the bad guys, and the day-saving. However, things get real soon and the Saturday morning cartoon feel disappears instantly. Every few minutes, there is an action scene (I can recall at least eight), and each one is bigger and cooler than the last. This was the first time an animated feature had so many grand battles, explosions, and frenetic chase scenes. Albeit the most violent Pixar movie (warranting the PG rating), The Incredibles is worth watching for the dazzling eye candy alone. I could watch the Dash chase scene a million times and still marvel at it (“He runs on water!”).
The characters have powers that match their personalities: Bob is the strong foundation of the family, Helen attempts to be flexible to manage her home, Dash is hyperactive, Violet is an awkward teen who wants to disappear, and Jack-Jack… well.
Of note are the supporting characters, Frozone and Edna Mode. Both have memorable scenes and amazing lines which stay with us long after the movie is over. In Syndrome, we have a threatening nemesis, one who actually has a reason and a motive for his actions. He is a stereotypical cartoon supervillain though, but, then again, this is basically an homage to classic superhero cartoons.
The best part of the film isn’t just the action or how visually dazzling it is, but how quotable and witty it is. Gentle innuendos are mixed with puns and wordplay. Take, for example, the following scenes:
Back in eighth grade, I was the school’s Incredibles
I love Toy Story 3 or Up as much as the next person, but The Incredibles really means a lot to me. As a kid watching this movie I felt like, if I tried, I could be just as incredible. Today I realize that you don’t need superpowers to be great, just the right values. The themes of being true to yourself, believing in your family, and finding true strength within yourself are universal and eternal. This film is the closest to perfection that I have seen.
That’s why, in my opinion, The Incredibles is Pixar’s biggest, smartest, coolest, and best film.
What are your thoughts on ‘The Incredibles’? Do you think it’s Pixar’s best film?
More in the Pixar Rewind series:
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes