Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Incredibles

I happened to catch part of the Incredibles on TV the other day and that made me realize two things: I hadn’t watched the film in quite a while and I really, really enjoy the movie. So, whilst out running errands today, I bought a copy and watched it again.

It was everything I remembered and with the special features, a bit more. The short ‘Jack-Jack Attacks’ is almost worth buying the DVD on its own. It details what actually happened between the babysitter’s frantic calls to Helen.

Anyhow, one thing that I really like about the movie is that both Bob and Helen (Mr. Incredible and Elasti-Girl, respectively) are extremely good at what they do. They were professional super heroes and as such can think on their feet as well as beat the snot out of people.

All too often in comedies, heroes (and dads, especially) are presented as blundering incompetents who win either by sheer luck or the intercession of another person. This is what I refer to as the ‘Hong-Kong Fooie Effect.’ This is when the hero is basically clueless and a long-suffering companion actually does all the work, but allows the hero to take the credit.

Pixar, instead, gave us two extremely capable, strong characters that complement each other very well.

My one complaint about the film is that I wish Violet had different powers. Force fields and invisibility are fine, but they’re rather passive. They’re very ‘old-school’ powers for a female character. Men were the powerhouses and women played the support role. Yes, the Incredibles mimic the Fantastic Four, but I never liked Sue’s power for those reasons.

Personally, I would have given Violet a much more aggressive power, but that’s just me.

Still, I love the film and will probably watch it a couple more times in the coming weeks. Kudos to Pixar for yet another fantastic film.



xy said...

I have to agree with you completely. The Incredibles show an astereotypical "father" figure we have seen far too much of in sitcoms. I have never appreciated the stupid, fat father who has the really hot wife , the smart daughter who is smarter than her father and the wisecracking younger son. Which is probably why I never watch sitcoms I suppose.

I just rewatched that movie the other day too and it is just fantastic.

Jason Janicki said...

Yeah, I hate that stereotype as well. The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, and to a certain extent, the Jetsons and the Flintstones.

I think it all goes back to the Honeymooners (on which the Flintstones was modeled).

I still haven't watched all the Incredibles special features yet, but I did enjoy the deleted scenes and outtakes. I'm wondering if there were any 'bloopers' like they did with Monsters, Inc.? I haven't seen any on the disk yet.

Jason said...

Pixar has made its fortune breaking the formulaic mold Disney laid out decades before - the plucky young hero/heroine, the wisecracking sidekick, the sinister villain, cloying musical numbers, etc. It makes sense that, in a situation where it would be all too easy to fall back on formula again (the sitcom family), Brad Bird and company again defied expectations - to refreshing results.

It will be interesting to see what will result from the matter-antimatter mixture of Disney and Pixar - whether the thesis of Disney and its antithesis will cancel each other out, or meld to form a creative unit capable of using Disney's marketing power and Pixar's creative ingenuity to take this new golden age of animation to even greater heights.

(ps - great comic!)

Anonymous said...

We spend a good chunk of family Christmas this year trying to come up with ANY MOVIE AT ALL with a good female heroine. I'm pushing Nausicaa and the rest of the Miyazaki brood. Probably I cut them some slack for cultural differences (Chihiro's ability to take shit in Spirited Away is a little worrisome, for instance), but these characters triumph without having to become guys. Contrast with GI Jane (who doesn't know when to make it look easy) or the Disney Mulan (who is embarrassing and THEN fulfils the Disney stereotypes). I like Elastigirl quite a lot... but I like Edna better.

"You are Elastigirl! My God...Pull-yourself-together! .... Fight! Win!

PS if anyone has a better idea than protective spheres, you might be able to get it into our strategy game.

-- eliz at galactic village

Anonymous said...

and... while I'm at it I should say that of course I really appreciate the Wayfarers Moon characters. I do hope they won't be put into any more of those holiday outfits, though. It breaks the spell, shall we say. Can we have easter bunnies with armor, instead? Even polar bears.


Jason Janicki said...

I'm really trying to come up with some good, strong female characters that are family-appropriate. You mentioned Miyazaki, and he has some good ones in Kiki's Delivery Service and the one with the two girls in the country and there's the cat that turns into the bus . . . (cannot think of the name).

Monster House has a good female character, who's name I can't recall.

And there's always the Justice League series. Lots of well-balanced, realistic female heroines.

I'll mention the holiday outfits to Leigh :)

Good powers besides protective spheres? Well, if you made the spheres malleable(sp?), in that they could be shaped and used both offensively and defensively. A shield one second and a spear projectile or force bolt the next, I think that would be cool (or spinning blades?)

I've also always liked the idea of a super-speed character that had normal endurance. He/she couldn't run any further than a normal person, but could just do it really fast. A character like that would be cool if they used swords or knives. They would dash in, cut you a couple dozen times, and the dash back out. Hellishly effective.

Anonymous said...

Will have to check out Kiki. The catbus and girls are from Totoro; isn't their dynamic great???.

I really liked the ensemble effect of the X-men movies, and Storm sticks in my mind. (But as a kind of baddie.) Jane doesn't somehow although her powers are effective. Then there are true baddies like (the Batman) Poison Ivy. She had worthwhile powers.

Over here we had a powwow and decided that Violet's powers are underutilized; should be more like the Invisible Woman or your (Jason's) suggestions for sharper applications of force fields.

Anonymous said...

ps if necessary you can tell Leigh that those holiday muggings are running down the brand. Alternatively, you could tell him that the in-story images are classy and have plenty of sizzle.