If you love James Bond and Jonny Quest, you will love “The Incredibles.” Brad Bird, who worked on “The Simpsons” and made one of the best sci-fi movies of all time, “The Iron Giant,” creates a universe where superheroes have real-world problems but out-of-this-world adventures.
Brad Bird, who worked on “The Simpsons” and made one of the best sci-fi movies of all time, “The Iron Giant,” creates a universe where superheroes have real-world problems but out-of-this-world adventures. He also manages to evoke the ’60s-era style that was Bond and Quest.
Superheroes generally come in two categories: those with and those without any special “powers.” Batman was an example of the latter; he was mainly an adventurer. Superman was the advent of the former.
Mr. Incredible has powers, too, and his give him super strength, which he uses to save fellow citizens from street-level crime. Things are great—until Mr. Incredible saves a person attempting suicide. The suicidal person gets whiplash while being saved, and Mr. Incredible gets sued.
The government relocates him and his family, and Mr. Incredible is no longer … Mr. Incredible. He’s just Bob Parr, a working-class stiff in an insurance firm. His wife was a hero named Elastigirl, but now she’s just Helen. Their three kids, possessing powers like invisibility and super speed, must act “normal.”
Bob hates his job. He really wants to put the suit back on and do what he does best: be a superhero. He and his buddy Lucius Best (a.k.a. Frozone) spend Wednesday evenings lying to their wives and listening to police scanners. They want action.
Bob gets his chance when he loses his job. A mysterious person named Syndrome hires him to save the world. But Syndrome has a secret of his own, and that secret threatens everyone’s safety. Will Mr. Incredible be able to save the day?
“The Incredibles” gets the superhero genre right. Brad Bird lets us see all the conventions of comics, without any of the hokeyness. POWs or BIFFs are replaced with pathos and genuine emotion.
We see a family, gory details and all: a father trying to make it for those he loves; a mother trying to hold everyone together; children not knowing their place in the world. Audiences care about these characters who find themselves in a cookie-cutter world.
Dr. John Carlton, a professor at Southeastern Seminary, once said that we would all die with half of our music still in us. “The Incredibles” speaks to that truth. Living with potential, while being held back by society’s conventions, is no way to go through life.
“The Incredibles” is for people who feel like they can fly, but are being held back from soaring. It’s for the hero in all of us.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
MPAA Rating: PG for action violence.
Director: Brad Bird
Writer: Brad Bird
Cast: Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr: Craig T. Nelson; Elastigirl/ Helen Parr: Holly Hunter; Frozone/ Lucius Best: Samuel L. Jackson; Syndrome/Buddy Pine: Jason Lee; Mirage: Elizabeth Pena; Edna “E” Mode: Brad Bird; Violet Parr: Sarah Vowell; Dash Parr: Spencer Fox.
The movie’s official Web site is here.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.