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'Incredible' effort by Pixar

Nov. 9, 2004

By MATT MCDANIEL, contributor

As a general rule, a reviewer tries to be as objective as possible. However, there are expectations placed on certain films, and with The Incredibles there is a pedigree of success that one expects from Pixar, given its successes with Finding Nemo and Toy Story.

While more action-oriented than past Pixar efforts, The Incredibles is still comical, light and enjoyable enough to be considered a worthy member of the Pixar lineup.

The plot involves a story about superheroes forced to retire by government mandate and the difficulties that ensue. It's also a story about family life, marriage trouble, good intentions gone wrong and being OK with who you are. In other words, like other Pixar films, there's a solid overall story backing up solid themes with an element of the fantastic adding spark to the story.

The superhero aspect of the story is different from most movies featuring super powers in that no effort is made to give any background as to why these characters have such powers. Instead of spending (or wasting, depending on your view) time on explaining the powers they possess, the movie simply delves into the plot. Since there are no comic books that this movie is based on, non-comic book fans don't have to worry that they aren't getting a reference or missing a punchline.

Make no mistake, this movie is a comedy. But the jokes feel much less forced than say, Shrek 2. It's not so dependent on pop-culture and lowest common denominator puns as it is genuinely humorous in a more timeless way.

It should go without saying that The Incredibles is enjoyable to all ages, college students included -- but I'll say it anyway.

This is the first film by Pixar to focus exclusively on human characters. The animators are extremely detailed, while purposely holding back the film's aesthetics from photorealism to give it a stylistic beauty. The whole movie is artistically sound and well-directed, from the facial emotions to the climactic battle to the closing credit sequence (the best sequence since Catch Me if You Can, if not better).

Voice acting in the film is similarly solid with a few recognizable celebrities in the cast, like Samuel L. Jackson and Jason Lee; however, most roles are filled by actors with familiar voices, but whose name you may not be able to place. The film stands apart from its star power, unlike some other recent animated films, Shark's Tale for example.

Sound and orchestration in the film is sufficient, but you won't be humming any theme songs upon exiting the theater. In a nice turn from modern movies, it simply serves its function and is unobtrusive.

Even with Pixar's success of making a quality humanesque film, a few grumbles must be made. It seems the larger issue of "why" is neglected in a few instances, notably in the supporting character, Mirage, who seems to be underdeveloped in comparison to the rest of the cast. Also, the subplot with the daughter's powers seems to ring false given the ease with which she uses them in the beginning dinner scene seen in the previews.

Also, while it doesn't hurt the movie, remember that hilarious montage from as early as last year showing Mr. Incredible struggling to put on the uniform made famous from advertisements? It isn't in the movie for some reason or another.

I would recommend this movie to just about anyone because practically everyone can understand it. Go see what's likely the year's best all-ages movie. Only the most cynical film buff would not enjoy it, and considering that I am one and still endorse it, that's saying something.