Tzaph Likes… Animated Films, Part 4

The Incredibles (2004) 1

 

There was obviously going to be at least one Pixar film on this list, and, once again, the decision was incredibly difficult, since Pixar are apparently unable to make a bad film. I think we can all agree that the Toy Story trilogy, Up, Wall-E, Brave, and all the others are incredibly good when it comes to the quality of animation and story-telling. However the Pixar film that I love the most is The Incredibles. So sue me, I like superhero flicks, and Incredibles is a great superhero flick. You could say that it’s incredi –

NO.
NO.

As always, plot synopsis. In a world populated by superheroes, Mr Incredible is one of the best during a golden age of superheroes. However, due to various incidents resulting in collateral damage from their “heroics”, the supers are forced to give up their powers and identities, and live like normal citizens. Years later, Mr Incredible, aka Bob Parr, is now married to ex-super Helen, and has kids and a job he hates. His two kids, Violet and Dash, also have powers, but are forbidden to use them. Although stuck in a rut and experiencing a midlife crisis, Bob still occasionally teams up with best friend Lucius, another super, to fight crime as secret vigilantes.

Eventually, Bob snaps and punches his boss through several walls. While trying to break the news to Helen, Bob receives a mysterious message from a woman named Mirage, who requests his help to stop a rogue killer robot on a tropical island. Bob accepts, and manages to defeat the robot. Encouraged by this success, he gets back in shape and accepts more and more contracts from Mirage, until finally he meets his match against an upgraded version of the robot. He finds out that the robot’s creator is the villain Syndrome, who Bob recognises from years ago as a young fan who he constantly shunned.

Bob manages to escape, and finds out that dozens of other superheroes have been killed in Syndrome’s tests to build the perfect killer robot, which will be sent into the city to wreck shit up. Meanwhile Helen, suspicious of her husband’s long absences, manages to find out where Bob is. She takes a jet to the island, but Violet and Dash sneak aboard. The jet is shot down, though the family eventually reunite, return to the city, and make a heroic attack against the robot, destroying it.

That’s the absolute bare minimum I can do on the plot, and it barely scratches the surface of the themes and that Incredibles touches on. It’s a very rare “kid’s film” that deals with issues like midlife crises, the everyday stresses and pressures in the suburban family, segregation and oppression, child mortality, and feelings of impotence, and Incredibles tackles all these and more.

 

Also, the practicality of capes.
It also explores the dilemma of wearing capes while in the vicinity of deadly whirlwinds. This is deep stuff people.

Incredibles contains – as you may expect – a lot of homages or just plain outright similarities to other super hero series. The Parr family themselves are essentially the Fantastic Four (Bob as The Thing, Helen as Mr Fantastic, Violet as Invisible Woman, and Dash as Human Torch, at least in terms of personality), the government act at the film’s start that monitors super heroes is reminiscent of X-Men or the Marvel Civil War storyline, and there’s a few nods to existing super heroes, the most obvious being Gazerbeam, who is the film’s Cyclops proxy.

The film is wonderfully genre-savvy (the aforementioned “cape dilemma” forms a hilarious montage early on, and ends up being a big plot point), and verges on being a parody of the superhero genre without being derisive of it; rather, it embraces the silly elements and still manages to be a “genuine” super hero film, much like live-action films like SuperKickAss and Mystery Men (all of which I love) where the inherent silliness of the superhero fascination is explored while still telling a story about courage, sacrifice, and dedication.

I absolutely love The Incredibles, and this brief gush is seriously making me reconsider moving it to the number three spot, but I just can’t bring myself to do that. Why? You’ll find out tomorrow.

Stay super.

 

– Tzaph

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