The Incredibles

When super-heroes are outlawed after a series of lawsuits concerning the collateral damage of super heroics, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) fully settle into their mild-mannered secret identities. For 15 years, they live an ordinary suburban life with their children, who also have super-powers – not that they’re allowed to use them. But one day, Mr. Incredible is almost simultaneously fired from the insurance firm he works for then offered a lucrative job battling robots on a mysterious island. What the big guy doesn’t know is that he’s walking into a trap, and it’ll be up to his wife and kids to save his incredible ass.

I wanted to love “The Incredibles”, I really did. I adore writer-director Brad Bird’s first film, The Iron Giant, and I thought his tackling an all-out super-hero adventure sounded too good to be true. Unfortunately, that’s precisely the case. Oh, the movie’s not a complete failure or anything. It’s just not… well, incredible.

First of all, it’s shockingly slow. Whereas most cartoons are fast-paced 80 minutes affairs, “The Incredibles” stretches over almost two hours. It takes nearly half that time just to get to the reveal of the villain, and the super-family never actually go into action together until the last 20 minutes. Before that, we get a lot of scenes about how daddy misses the old days, mommy worries that they’re drifting apart, son Dash acts up at school, daughter Violet likes some boy but he doesn’t notice her, the baby won’t eat his food… I understand that this sets up how un-incredible their life has become, but this “set-up” takes almost the whole damn film! I was also surprised at how seriously all this is handled. The movie is being advertised as a comedic take on the super-hero genre but, while there are indeed silly bits here and there, it’s actually much less funny than a lot of the “straight” comic book movies.

Being a Pixar production, “The Incredibles” is gorgeously designed and animated, but it lacks the heart of Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo or the Toy Story flicks. We’ve heard the lessons about how the family that fights together stays together in three Spy Kids pictures already, and I never cared about the characters here like I did for Hogarth and the Iron Giant.

Still, the movie can be entertaining. There’s some fun to be had watching Mr. Incredible throwing stuff around, Elastigirl stretching across rooms, Dash running at the speed of light and Violet making herself invisible, and I also enjoyed the Iceman-style stunts of Frozone (a sadly underused Sam Jackson) and bad guy Syndrome (Jason Lee), who seems to be modeled on Harry Knowles. So I’m marginally recommending “The Incredibles”, but without much enthusiasm.