**** The Incredibles (2004)
Directed by Brad Bird
Brad Bird directed the best giant robot movie of all time (1999's
The Iron Giant). Is it now possible that he has also directed
the best superhero movie of all time?
With the possible exception of this year's Spider-Man
2 (which was also a four-star movie), I'd say yes.
The movie takes place in a world where the ever-increasing
frequency of lawsuits forces superheroes to go underground and try
to make their secret identities their only identities. Mr Incredible,
aka Bob Parr, and his wife Elastagirl, aka Helen Parr, have been
forced to live this life of mediocrity for fifteen years. Bob and
his friend Frozone, aka Lucius, sneak out at nights under the pretense
of bowling, when in reality they sit in a car, listening to a police
radio and remembering the good ol' days. They do covert superwork
whenever possible, but it just doesn't have the thrill of putting
on tights and being in the spotlight.
These retired superheroes are like drug addicts.
Their drug is the superhero lifestyle. Now that they can't have
it, they crave it more than ever.
When Mr. Incredible is offered a chance to don
the tights one more time, he of course jumps headfirst without thinking.
And without telling his wife and kids.
This film, like all Pixar movies, is filled to
the brim with almost irrational exuberance and deep, devotional
love for its subject matter. This isn't a superhero spoof. This
is a superhero movie that just happens to be more of a comedy than
most. But also like all good Pixar movies, the true center of the
movie is the emotional bonds between the characters. Bob's resentment
at being forced into mediocrity spills over onto his family. Helen
feels neglected and frustrated at having to keep her gifted children
from being, well, gifted.
In a way, that's what this movie is really about.
These characters live in a world where their extraordinary gifts
are looked upon with resentment and jealousy by all who don't possess
similar gifts. They're forced to do only a fraction of what they're
capable, all the while knowing that they could do more.
But if people around them are jealous, whose fault is that? Theirs?
For simply living up to their full potentials? Or is it the regular
people, who perhaps aren't being all they can be and are resentful
of being constantly reminded of that fact?
Everyone wants to be the best. But in a world where
you have to dumb down in order to fit in with everybody else, after
you've walked with gods, how do you cope?
"Everyone is special," Helen tells her
"Which is another way of saying that no
one is special," Dash sullenly replies.