If I were the filmmakers of the upcoming Fantastic Four movie, I would be really upset about The Incredibles. The powers of the Thing, Invisible Girl, and Mr. Fantastic are showcased nicely (albeit switched around somewhat). Add in a speedster a la Quicksilver and a cold-themed guy who moves using ice bridges a la Iceman and Marvel comics lawsuit come on down!
The Incredibles simply takes the FF formula, swishes it around a bit, throws in some ideas ripped off from a couple of other places and mixes it all into the movie experience currently number one at the box office. When the FF movie does hit, I’m guessing every reviewer will call it a live action Incredibles.
Nothing in this movie is original to anyone who has been reading comics for as long as I have. However, put it all together and you have a fairly original concept in the same vein that Tarentino takes ideas from Japanese cinema and makes it palatable for American audiences.
The Incredibles begins with an idea that while superheroes as figures of idolization and admiration is what audiences expect, a more modern and sophisticated populace would surely get caught up in the chinks in their armor. Acts of bravery and preservation, in the real world, would definitely begat litigation. The same public that cheered their exploits, now would just as passionate to tear them down. Human nature applied to comic book super heroes. Great shades of Dark Night Returns and Watchmen!
From that set up, we focus on the Parr family trying its best to emulate the Cleavers, except their superpowers are bulging at the seams. The film does an outstanding job of bringing all the characteristics and components of family life, into the picture — bickering siblings, arguing spouses, the ridiculous boss, the split level ranch in suburbia. These aspects of the film is what gives it its depth and sets it apart from Shrek-style animated movies. The audience sees many things they can related to: a mother’s love for her children, a father’s love for his wife. It may just be a cartoon, but writer/director Brad Bird cared enough about these characters to showcase “real family interactions” and that makes all the difference. I will admit there is a hint of it in Finding Nemo, but it is really apparent here and it will resonate with children and adults.
This is easily the first Pixar film that actually could have worked as live action; the sophistication of its script makes this a joy for young and young at heart alike. Plus, the film makes fun of everything from superhero (and James Bond) cliches, such as a villain “monologuing,” to educational cliches, such as when Mom, the former Elastigirl, tells her educationally-challenged son, “Every child is special,” to which Dash sardonically but correctly replies, “If everyone is special, then NO ONE is special.” A biting comment on the vanilla-izing of America in which mediocrity can reap great rewards while quality withers on the vine.
A veteran of both The Simpsons and King of the Hill, Writer/Director Brad Bird was also responsible for one of my favorite movies and possibly one of the best animated feature that nobody has seen, The Iron Giant. Everyone go out and rent it today.
Overall, this movie works on several levels. My daughter immediately wanted to play the Incredibles and was making a list of powers she would have. I was thinking more about the “no one is special” line.
I hope the FF movie will be just as good. It has pretty hefty competition.