The Incredibles is a story about rediscovering who you are. About learning more about the people around you. It’s a tale about believing not only in yourself but others. It is universal. On so many levels this movie strips down,very simply, what it means to be alive. To be human. To have existed in this society and have said, “World I was here and I did my best.” There is no hidden agenda with this film. No politics. Just a tale of family and what it means to stick together when you love someone.
Other then Porco Rosso, I have never seen an animated character drawn like Bob Parr. It is as if Writer/Director Brad Bird has dug deep within himself, his life, his family...everything, and extrapolated a story of the modern working man. This is no small feat considering that he is making an animated movie that, lets be honest, HAS to appeal to a large audience. More to the point it has to appeal to kids. Children. Now, asking young kids to care about something like that, would be like asking me to sit through a documentary on the Sahara Desert. I would be asleep in minutes. Yet, Bird, Pixar and the entire animation team manage to pull all of this off without any sort of a hitch. In fact, it was as if they were completely undaunted by this task in front of them.
They did this by not having Bob Parr occupy every frame of the movie. The was where the magic of his family came in. Not only do we get the insight of seeing them act “as a family” but we also get the joy of seeing them re-embrace being a family of super heroes. From Bob, to Helen, to Dashiell, to Voilet to baby Jack-Jack...each of these characters gets the maximum amount of screen time to shine. To be developed to the point where it seems like an entire movie could have been made out of that character, without even discoursing on the others. Yet, this movie does it all. It handles all of their plights, all of their ups and downs and it never gets bogged down and comes in at a tight and lean 115 minutes.
This movie is an extraordinary visual achievement. It looks, sounds and feels perfect. I don’t remember the last time I walked out of an animated movie and felt the way I did. In weird way I remember thinking about, of all movies, Pulp Fiction. When I left that movie, when the credits started to roll, I didn’t want to leave the theater. I didn’t want it to end. I remember getting up, walking out of the movie, talking with my friends but not really thinking about anything they were saying. I was still thinking about the movie. About the scenes, the images, the dialogue. It seemed to flow effortlessly. It just seemed perfect.
I had this same feeling when I saw The Incredibles. In fact, we saw a bunch of other movies that day and I think that The Incredibles was the second one of the bunch, and I remember thinking, “I would have been happy having just seen The Incredibles.” That movie alone would have been enough to more then compensate for the 4 or 5 others I had seen. It is the ability of this movie to do that, to elevate storytelling and animation that I think is where the art of Pixar, Brad Bird and the entire animation team truly reveals itself. Even more so then the visuals.
Filmmakers Audio Commentaries
These commentaries are nothing short of a gold mine. As someone who is making a feature length animated movie in his spare time, (it’s titled 1985-1986) I could not get enough of this! Not only do we get to hear from Brad Bird but we get to hear from the animators on the project. This DVD box set becomes like a small animation school. It is worth every single penny that someone could pay because where else are you going to get this information? Where else are you going to hear about the filmmakers thoughts? Their ideas? Why certain scenes were drawn or created? I feel like someone who has unknowingly been given the golden key. Hearing about how scenes were lit, what the creators where trying to get across...I am almost beside myself with how thankful I am to be getting this insiders glimpse into The Incredibles. And it’s amazing how forthcoming they are, especially Brad Bird who it’s obvious has that special something that people like Spielberg and Lucas have.
I actually never thought about what was going with Jack-Jack during The Incredibles adventure but this short little movie answered all of non-thoughts.This little “made for DVD” gem is really fun to watch. The sitter who thinks she can handle everything Jack-Jack dishes out, quickly learns that she couldn’t be more wrong. I think Jack Jack ends up being the one who gives her more “neurological stimulation” then she could have ever imagined. And one gets the feeling that Jack-Jack’s super power’s are going to create many “fiery” situations for his family down the line. My only complaint is that I think this short film was a tad too short, but then again I guess I can always watch The Incredibles to get my fill again, right?
If I recall correctly this little gem screened before The Incredibles when I saw it in the theater. I remember watching it and being blown away. Sure it looked good, sounded great and was of complete Pixar quality, but I think I was even more amazed that the folks who had created this were able to get across so much information, so many ideas and so much story in such a short time span. Also, having something like this play before the movie is very smart, because for parents who are taking their children to see this movie, chances are things aren’t going to run smoothly and a lot of them will show up late. This short film represents the perfect buffer because it will immediately grab the kids attention, while letting them and their folks not miss a moment of what’s happening in the feature itself. I love this Lamb!
Okay, here’s the thing, these Pixar people are so talented, they are so good at what they do, that when they try and put together a gag reel of mistakes, I am trying to figure out where the mistakes are. I say this because even amongst all the “bad hair days”, “wardrobe malfunctions” and what not...ALL THIS STUFF STILL LOOKS REALLY GOOD. In my animated movie, I could only hope to have these kinds of problems. The sad thing was, I’m watching this and you get to hear an audience laughing, and I half think that this was put in here to help you realize what you are watching are mistakes, because I’m still trying to figure out what’s so funny. These “mistakes” look really good. Even in the scenes that aren’t 100% rendered...they look awesome. Oh well...I guess I’ll just have to become better at animation before I can appreciate this.
Deleted Scenes and Alternate Opening
I quickly went to the Alternate opening and was a tad disheartened to see that they hadn’t gone through the “Pixar Machine” of animation, but had been created as animated story boards. This isn’t bad, it’s just that after watching all the Pixar stuff I was sort of expecting it all to be animated in that brilliant fashion. Other deleted scenes include “Bob In Traffic”, “Helen Confronts Bob”, “Helen’s Nightmare”, etc. What I really found interesting was that amidst all these storyboard recreations of these scenes that didn’t make the cut, even their “throw away” drawings look way better then anything I could do!! I liked these deleted scenes but I guess I went in just expecting more. The Incredibles delivers so much on every level that when I come across something like this I feel a tad let down. That said, I am very happy that they included it because it gives us just that much more insight into what went into the creation.
Top Secret Files on All the Supers
This was a weird 2D rendering of Mr. Incredible, Frozone and a bunny named Mr. Skipperdo. It’s drawn in a very old style and the mouths look like something you might see on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien”, where they show a celebrities face and then have a mouth that’s obviously separate from the body talking. It looks really cool especially when it seems like the animators would really have to “simplify” their styles in order to pull this off. You can even watch this with a commentary by Frozone and Mr. Incredible. Along with this is an insane listing of all the super heroes in “Top Secret Files NSA Files”. You click on someone's face and then a screen comes up listing all their powers, their personality and then you can hear them talking over it. It’s all recorded in such a way that everything sounds top secret. The menus on this are amazing. The audio that you get is done of the character talking about what it’s like to be that character. There is so much here it’s as though these files could have been a DVD all by themselves.
Behind the Scenes “Making Of”
I want to work for Pixar. Probably not as an animator but in the story department or something. I say this because after watching this “behind the scenes” companion piece, as tough as it to actually complete one of these movies, it just seems like a great thing to be a part of. To be able to create the kinds of movies that these people create, to have place where this kind of creativity and thought is graciously cultivated would be like a dream come true. I mean how can you not like a place where Executive Producer John Lasseter has a bunch of toys from other Pixar movies packed into the shelves of his office?!? I think one of the most amazing things I gleaned from this was how Brad Bird was brought in so that Pixar would not become complacent. If this isn’t a company that is amazingly structured then I don’t know what is. All of this “behind the scenes” stuff just adds to what a spectacular DVD this is.
Theatrical Widescreen Viewing Presentation (2.39:1) - Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions. While I may think that Finding Nemo was a better movie, I loved the “look” of The Incredibles more. There was just something about it taking place in the cities and suburbs that really got to me. I remember sitting in the movie theater and literally having my breath taken away by how awesome everything was. Now, it was a bit different watching it on my TV/VCR/DVD setup but overall everything held up. When you have a TV that really wasn’t designed for DVDs of this nature, I am just happy that the darn thing played all the way through without being overwhelmed by what content that the DVD was spitting out. This movie looked really good. The transfer was completely sharp. In fact, in some ways I think it may have been sharper on my TV then it was when I saw it on the movies. What I lost in scope, I gained in my ability to be up close and personal with this movie. I also can appreciate the fact that it seems no stone was left unturned as far as production details went. Every aspect of the images, all the drawings whether in the foreground, middle ground or background all were deftly handled and distinguished in their own way.
English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX. THX-Certified, Including THX Optimizer. With all of that, how could these DVDs not just sound awesome? I felt bad that I wasn’t getting the full sound experience on my junky TV setup, so I actually went another way and tried to watch it on my parents surround sound setup. Well I tried to, anyway. It was configured all weird so I just went back and watched it on my familiar set up. Now, maybe I wasn’t “optimizing” my experience, but my feeling is that if things can sound as good as they did on this setup, then on an spectacular setup this movie must just be insane. In fact, I think I am going to re-screen this movie at a friend’s house(who has surround sound) so I can get the full treatment that I know these DVDs are capable of. I really think that the people that make these DVDs have to be given a lot of credit, because they do everything they can so that people can recreate the experience of what it was like to have seen The Incredibles in the movies. And the truthfully, even on my system I don’t think that that much was lost. It was more a case of me having to adjust myself because since I know what the theater experience is like, I knew that watching it at home might be a tad different. And it was, but not in any way that takes from what a treat it is to view this movie and the accompanying supplemental materials.
There is a simplicity to the packaging of The Incredibles that I don’t think in any way diminishes the movie that we are seeing. I am actually a big fan of the cardboard covering that mirrors the packaging in the plastic case simply because it helps preserve the original packaging. The cover features the Parr family(The Incredibles) as well as a couple of other characters from the movie. The back showcases some scenes from the movie, provides a nice description of what the movie is about and also lists out all the extra features that come with this two disk set. Inside are two discs(a great use of space) and a DVD booklet that walks you through the contents of the DVDs and how they are laid out. A film like The Incredibles is almost made for the DVD release. It is so ahead of it’s time yet grounded in the here and now. Okay, so the packaging isn’t exactly “incredible”, but for this widescreen special edition it more then does the job. Lets be honest, this probably will not be the first release of this movie. There are bound to be a few more “special editions” over the next 5-10 years, but for me, this is all I need. It’s bright, in your face but not too crazy. The animation isn’t daunting and I especially love the simple animation that adorns the cover of the DVD booklet.
Quite simply, The Incredibles is a great movie. It hits all the right notes, it keeps you interested, and most of all a person who is 80 can enjoy it just as much as someone who is 8. Now, I am sure there are jaded people out there who want more from their movies, but I have to admit, that a film like The Incredibles, has a lot more heart then many of the so-called, “deep” independent movies do. In fact, I will take a big budget movie like The Incredibles any day over a movie that purports to be some groundbreaking work, but is as accessible as a greased doorknob.
Buy this movie. And if you don’t want to buy then rent it. One way or another you should see it, because I truly feel that The Incredibles is not only an instant classic but an instant part of any DVD owner’s collection.
I think we have the first candidate for DVD of the year. In fact, of what I have reviewed so far, The Incredibles is the DVD of the year!!!
The Incredibles was released October 27, 2004.