The Incredibles (2004)

Rated PG. Our ratings: V-4 ; L- 1; S/N-1

But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
Matthew 25:18

The Incredibles

Unlike the fearful servant in Jesus’ parable, Bob and Helen Parr (a.k.a. Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, superheroes par excellence) do not want to bury their incredible talents. They are forced to do so when some of the ungrateful victims whom they rescue from injury and death slap them with lawsuits for injuries incurred during the rescue. For their own protection, they enter the Government Superhero Relocation Program, moving far away to the suburbs and assuming new identities. After several moves, necessitated by his blowing his cover to rescue someone in distress, Mr. Incredible submits to the dull routine of an insurance office ruled over by a tyrannical boss, whereas Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) tends to their house and supervising their three children. Young Dashiell Parr (Spencer Fox) lives up to his nickname of Dash, his superpower being the ability to run at the speed of light, which his mother forbids him to do, in order that they might continue their anonymous lives. His older sister Violet (Sarah Vowell), able to render herself invisible and to create a force bubble or shield around herself, lives in a teen funk because she also is forbidden to use her super power.

Mr. Incredible’s solace is his night out with fellow superhero Frozone, also a part of the Superhero Relocation Program and now known as Lucius Best (Samuel L. Jackson). As you might guess from his name, Frozone once used his ability to freeze water and other things quickly in the fight against criminals. Now the two can only reminisce about the good ole days and indulge in a few superpower antics that do not draw any attention, while their wives think they are out bowling. And then one day a woman named Mirage (Elizabeth Pina) comes to Bob with an offer he cannot refuse—accompany her to a distant island and battle a huge out of control robot called Omnidroid 7. Once again the world is threatened by an evil force that only a superhero can subdue.

A series of wild adventures ensue, but this all turns out to be a trap foisted by the wicked Buddy Pine, who calls himself Syndrome (Jason Lee). Over 14 years earlier we had seen Mr. Incredible turn down the little kid who desperately wanted to become his Boy Wonder. Instead, Mr. Incredible, regarding the costumed kid as a nuisance, had humiliated the boy and sent him home. Now the kid has grown up and wants his revenge. Will Elastigirl be able to find and come to her husband’s rescue? And will she allow their three children to come along? Silly questions.

The Pixar studios have another highly enjoyable film to add to their string of successes. More than just a spoof of superhero films, director/writer Brad Bird makes some wry comments on our sue-at-the-drop of-a-whatever society—advocates of torte reform take notice. The little details of a superhero trying to live a normal life are hilarious—such as Bob Parr’s having to squeeze into his old costume because he has gained so much weight (and barely being able to wriggle through various openings because of his enlarged midriff). The pain of giving up a life you loved is well depicted, along with that of the inability to exhibit your strengths to the fullest.

Like in the James Bond movies, there is a counterpart to gadget master Q, Edna “E” Mode (voiced by Brad Bird himself), whose lecture on why Mr. Incredible does not want a cape for his new uniform: capes, as Isadora Duncan learned the hard way, being far too dangerous an accouterment. Many will appreciate the way that the film shows a family coming together and using their talents to the full for the protection of one another. Give your funny bone a treat, and, if you do not have a full complement of a family, borrow one—this is too good of a film to watch alone. Don’t let anyone tell you a Brad Bird film is just for kids. Anyone who has seen his wonderful peace-affirming The Iron Giant knows better.