It's crazy looking back at the streak of fantastic animated movies Pixar was putting out in the early 2000s. Once they hit the scene with "Toy Story" in 1995, they quickly won over the hearts of audiences and critics alike with their groundbreaking computer animation, complex and deep stories, and fun memorable characters. They were the undisputed kings of animation during that time and "The Incredibles" is certainly proof that showed it. Directed by Brad Bird who had come to Pixar after his beautiful film "The Iron Giant" badly bombed at the box office, this animated superhero flick really cemented his status as a fantastic filmmaker as this is easily one of the best-animated action films ever made and one that certainly has gotten better with age. This is a superb animated flick.
In the city of Metroville, superheroes were known for saving lives, stopping crimes, and helping innocent people in need. However, that all changed when lawsuits started to pour in from people suing for damages, personal trauma, and ridiculous matters. Pretty soon due to public demand, the government decides to start a superhero relocation program that puts superheroes into hiding and has them return to the world as their anonymous alter egos if they don't come back as superheroes. Fifteen years go by and one of these superheroes, now known as Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson) begins to have a midlife crisis. Despite now being married to another superhero named Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) who now goes under the name Helen, having three kids named Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Spencer Fox), and Jack-Jack and also working for an insurance company, he feels unhappy with his life and misses fighting crime and saving the day and mostly spends his nights with his best friend Lucius, formerly known as Frozone (Samual L. Jackson) listening to police scanners and secretly stopping crimes at night. One day though, Bob is fired from his insurance job and gets a job from a woman named Mirage (Elizabeth Pena) who offers a job to him to resume superhero activity on a remote island. Little does he know that this is part of a big conspiracy revolving around a former fan from him who now goes under the name Syndrome (Jason Lee). That's all I'll say about the film.
Whenever I go back and rewatch this film, I'm always struck by just how smart and well-crafted everything is. This was the most complex and mature animated film Pixar had put out at that point taking everything they had learned on their previous animated movies and stepping up the bar even further and I still believe it still stands strong all these years later. This is one of the smartest animated movies ever written as it not only answers the questions on problems with the superhero genre like why superheroes get off scot-free after all the damage they and the villain cause, what would happen if they were forced to stop fighting crime and just be normal people, and even why their capes don't cause problems even though they seem so hazardous and a deadly part of their costume. Not only that, but it also gave us hilarious comedy, and fantastic action to back it up. Though as awesome and cool as the superhero moments are, Bird's focus on the midlife crisis is what always drives me back. There's a great scene where Helen and Bob have an argument about Bob missing the glory days and not being there for his family and the dialogue is so sharp and tense that I love rewatching it every time. Every part of this story and screenplay works and it even resulted in the film getting a well-deserved Best Original Screenplay nomination at the Academy Awards. It's easily one of the best screenplays written for an animated movie and I love it so much. As far as the animation goes, it really is highly impressive to this day. This film broke a lot of grounds when it came to computer animation and a lot of elements in the film seemed so complex to make that it was debated whether or not Pixar could actually pull off the film. Many elements that were so hard to emulate in a computer like human characters, fabric, and hair were all required for this film and all the hard work and challenges trying to get the computer to properly emulate paid off in the end. The film has a very nice stylized look similar to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Saul Bass with some fantastic character designs that result in a film that's eye-popping all the way through. While the quieter moments are nice to see, the animation really gets to shine in particular during the action. Every action scene is well made and easy to follow so the audience doesn't lose focus on what's happening while still being fast-paced and moves with rapid speed to keep up the energy. It's such amazing animation and it hasn't aged one bit since it came out. Then there are the characters who all have distinctive personalities and leave memorable impressions on everyone. The entire Parr family is fantastic. The growth of Bob as a character is something I always love looking back on. You really sympathize with him missing the glory days and the trouble of being a superhero forced into hiding and the way he grows and comes to realize that his family is more important than his old job is really heartwarming to see. I really love Helen as a character too. She's not only a sweet and supportive wife, but she's also a character that will step in if there's trouble and has a no-nonsense attitude if someone does something wrong. Violet and Dash are also very fun characters as well as they both feel like real children if they had superpowers while also trying their best with real-world situations. Even the side characters are great with both Lucius and superhero fashion designer Edna Mode (Brad Bird) having some hilarious lines and moments and the supervillain Syndrome being both a funny yet threatening villain. He's easily one of Pixar's best villains and the way Bird uses his character as metacommentary on both obsessive fans and supervillains was fantastic.
And fantastic is the best word I can use to describe "The Incredibles". The story was exceptionally well written and very clever, the animation was beautiful and stylish, and the characters were all relatable and distinctive. This is such a fantastic animated movie and I highly recommend you watch it if you haven't already. For the lack of a better word, this film really is incredible.