The Incredibles (2004)

100 Films’ 100 Favourites #44

Expect the incredible.

Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 115 minutes
BBFC: U
MPAA: PG

Original Release: 5th November 2004 (USA)
UK Release: 26th November 2004
First Seen: DVD, 2005

Stars
Craig T. Nelson (Poltergeist, Action Jackson)
Holly Hunter (Raising Arizona, The Piano)
Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Snakes on a Plane)
Jason Lee (Mallrats, Alvin and the Chipmunks)

Director
Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol)

Screenwriter
Brad Bird (*batteries not included, Ratatouille)
(I bet you could count on one hand the number of Western animated movies written by one person.)

The Story
After public opinion forced superheroes into a civilian relocation programme, Bob and Helen Parr — formerly Mr Incredible and Elastigirl — live a quiet domestic life with their three children. Bob is dissatisfied, however, and easily tempted back to heroic ways by a call to defeat an evil robot. When it emerges this is part of a plan to kill retired superheroes and give powers to everyone in the world, Bob’s wife and superpowered kids must enter the fray to save the world.

Our Heroes
The fantastic four titular heroes: Bob Parr, aka Mr Incredible, who has super strength and limited invulnerability; his wife Helen, aka Elastigirl, who can stretch her body like rubber; their daughter Violet, who can become invisible and generate a force shield; and her younger brother Dash, who has super-speed (name/power coincidencetastic!) There’s also their chum Lucius Best, aka Frozone, who can form ice from the air. He’s very cool, hence casting Samuel L. Jackson.

Our Villain
Disillusioned superhero fanboy Buddy Pine, who grew up and used technology to give himself powers, dubbing himself Syndrome. Wants to give everyone in the world powers, because when everyone’s super, no one will be.

Best Supporting Character
Fashion designer Edna Mode, who makes the superheroes’ costumes. Inspired by Hollywood costume designer Edith Head, Bird wanted Lily Tomlin to voice her, and provided an example of how she should sound. Tomlin thought it was perfect, so she instead persuaded Bird to play the role himself.

Memorable Quote
“No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid — ‘I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for ten minutes?!’” — Mr. Incredible

Memorable Scene
After tearing his old costume, Bob visits Edna for a new one. He wants a cape. Cue montage of why capes are a bad idea.

Technical Wizardry
The film presented a whole host of new technical challenges for Pixar, not least fully animating a whole cast of humans for the first time — they had to develop new technology to animate detailed anatomy, clothing, skin, and hair. The latter was a particular challenge. On Monsters, Inc., the animators persuaded director Pete Docter to give Boo pigtails to make her hair easier to animate, but Brad Bird accepted no such compromises, particularly as Violet’s long, face-covering hair was integral to her character — and it had to be depicted underwater and blowing in the wind, too. Ultimately, Violet’s hair was only successfully animated toward the end of production.

Next time…
One of the few Pixar sequels people actually wanted, The Incredibles 2 is in development for a 2019 release. That’s only a 15-year wait.

Awards
2 Oscars (Animated Film, Sound Editing)
2 Oscar nominations (Original Screenplay, Sound Mixing)
1 BAFTA Children’s Award (Best Film)
10 Annie Awards (Feature, Directing, Writing, Voice Acting (Brad Bird), Music, Production Design, Animated Effects, Character Animation, Character Design, Storyboarding)
6 Annie nominations (Voice Acting (Samuel L. Jackson), Character Animation (again, x3), Character Design (again), Storyboarding (again))
1 Saturn Award (Animated Film)
2 Saturn nominations (Writer, Music)
Won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form

What the Critics Said
“what really makes The Incredibles work is the wit of Bird [though] much of it will be over the heads of very young viewers who account for so much repeat business. Bird’s satiric take on suburbia, conformity and forced notions of equality is surprisingly sophisticated and biting for an animated feature, matched by a visual panache that is often breathtaking.” — Kevin Lally, Film Journal International

Score: 97%

What the Public Say
“Most Disney films are about people meeting and falling in love. Incredibles is one of the only ones I can think of about how important marriage is. It shows a couple fighting, getting along, and working together.” — Rachel Wagner, Reviewing All 54 Disney Animated Films and More!

Verdict

Even before the present glut of big-screen super-heroics, Pixar were in on the game with this affectionate genre entry. Writer-director Brad Bird mixes together classical superhero antics with elements of 1960s spy-fi to create a retro world of optimistic heroics and larger-than-life villainy — at odds with the dark-and-serious tone of so many superhero movies of the past 17+ years, but all the more memorable for it. It’s also great at the kinds of things Pixar is known for. The combination means it transcends both the kids’ animation and superhero subgenres.

#45 will be… keeping up with the Joneses.

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5 thoughts on “The Incredibles (2004)

  1. Can’t believe it’s taken so many years for the sequel to come out. I thought Hollywood was never bashful about milking success for all its worth? Mind you, we may still have cause to regret it- sequels can always be a case of Be Careful What You Wish For. The Incredibles is damn near perfect, and I’d hate a sequel to tarnish its name by being poor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m hoping they’re only doing it now because they’ve finally got a good story. Equally, I think that after they made Cars 2 and Toy Story 3 and neither brought about the end of the world, Pixar have gone a little sequel-happy. Conversely again, Brad Bird is coming back, so that must bode well.

      Like

  2. This is one of my fave Pixar movies. Great casting and such a clever script.

    I’m a bit nervous about a sequel, but as you pointed out in the comment above, not all sequels are horrible. The Toy Story sequels were really well done. Fingers crossed!

    Liked by 1 person

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