Hero Sandwiched Between Ordinary Breeds

incredibles_ver9Oh the agony of living as an ordinary human, especially if you’re a superhero who can’t use super powers. Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) used to be a big-time super-hero, but then he helped people who didn’t want to be helped. Law suits ensued and the anti-hero backlash forced him to join the league of ordinary gentlemen. Now, he’s a sad sack named Robert Parr, putting up with the banality of work to provide for his family. It’s nice to know that even super heroes aren’t immune to mid-life crisis.

Whether the scenario makes Mr. Incredible more human or makes us feel like heroes back in our own glory days, this clever spin on super heroes truly connects. The central theme of the movie comes early with a critique: it’s malicious to deprive people of their “super powers.” True, but it doesn’t make the mediocre men feel better. I’m sure there were times we secretly craved the demise of the guy who seems to be always doing better than us. In fact, the movie’s physical villain is not of the super hero breed. He has to overcome his ordinariness through smarts to be on a fighting level with Mr. Incredible. Who are we to likely become?

I love that the family members are created with nuances. Helen (Holly Hunter), Robert’s wife and former Elastic Girl, has the ability to stretch herself. Her flexibility can refer to her skills in bed and her dexterity in housewife multi-tasking. The teenage daughter Violet, with her drooping long black hair covering half her face, reminds you somehow of “The Ring” girl. She has the ability to be invisible and make force fields, which matches her shy and unobtrusive personality. Meanwhile Dash, that mischievous son, has the knack of running in a flash.

While the movie launches with a smart and intriguing premise, it’s a bit of a let down when it swerves to the familiar direction of action-heavy spectacle. I admit that I was entertained during the second half with borrowed elements from Bondville. That’s all very kick-ass and fun, especially when Dash zips through the jungle. But I believe it would have been better if they followed through with the premise. The true villain is the restrictions of society, not the maniac “Syndrome.” Maybe the family is saving that villain for the sequel.

I don’t know how “The Incredibles” will stack up among other Pixar films. It is Pixar’s most polished and greatest-looking film to date, but we know it’ll be surpassed in that department eventually. “Toy Story” movies evoked the need to be loved. “Monsters, Inc.” and “Finding Nemo” captured paternal love and protection. I don’t think “The Incredibles” connects emotionally as much as these. But that is just a quibble. The movie is still deserving of its name, especially when compared to “Shark Tale” and “Shrek 2.” You don’t need super powers to figure that out.

Grade: B+