Flashback Review: The Incredibles

In 2003, Finding Nemo officially opened nationwide, many movies goers and families purchased their tickets, popcorn, fountain drinks & snacks to watch Pixar’s latest film. As the audience waits patiently for the movie to start, a teaser trailer shows a glossary full of pictures, awards & magazines of a superhero named, “Mr. Incredible.” A newspaper next to several photos has a headline labeled, “ Mr. Incredible Retires.” A few seconds later, a phone rings, someone picks up the phone, he answers it. The person turns out to be Mr. Incredible himself. He gears up for his latest adventure, suddenly, he struggles to put his belt on. Turns out he’s been eating Happy Meals offscreen after he was forced to retire because of a law that forbids superheroes to fight crime. After putting his belt on, his belly causes the belt to pop out like a ricochet bullet flying across the room.

When I was a 10-year-old, I was very eager to see The Incredibles. I’ve waited impatiently to see it. I loved the teaser trailer and I consider it, the best teaser trailer of all time. Let me discuss how The Incredibles was conceived in the first place.

While working on The Iron Giant, Brad Bird came up with an idea based on his childhood memories collecting comic books dating back from The Golden & Silver Age Comics and watching spy films from The 60’s, most notably James Bond. He was gonna make The Incredibles in traditional hand drawn 2D format, after The Iron Giant failed to break even at the box office. Brad decided to pitch his next film to his friend and recently fired Pixar co-founder John Lasseter. He felt enthusiastic with Brad’s idea and decided to help him develop the project beginning a four-year gap of development from 2000-2004.

Other than his childhood memories of collecting comics and watching spy films, Brad made this film as he was approaching middle age at the time. He came up with the film’s protagonist Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible based on appearance and age who wants to relive his former years. Mr. Incredible’s fondness for “The Glory Days” reflects Brad’s childhood memories.

Brad & Pixar hired Craig T. Nelson to voice Mr. Incredible along with other actors including Oscar-winning actress Holly Hunter as Helen Paar/Elastigirl, Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone, author Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr & Jason Lee as Syndrome, The Main Antagonist of the film.

After finishing post-production, Disney officially distributed the film nationwide.

The Incredibles was released in 2004. (same year Spider-Man 2 came out) Earning critical acclaim from critics, fan & movie goers. Plus it made enough cash at the box office.

The film went on to become an eligible Oscar nominee at The 77th Academy Awards nominated for Best Original Screenplay, (Brad Bird) Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing & Best Animated Feature Film. Only the latter two managed to win. The Incredibles became the first superhero animated film to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. Thus, Pixar made a history yet again.

Now that Incredibles 2 received early reviews from critics, I want to share my thoughts about The Incredibles before the sequel comes out in June 15.

Today’s review doesn’t contain no big fat SPOILERS. If you’ve never ever ever seen this movie, feel free to read the entire thing.

If you wanna go in the Pixar tradition similar to waiting for the main course at a restaurant, begin with a short film representing an appetizer called, “Boundin,” then begin the movie as the main course, after the movie, watch the short film “Jack-Jack Attack” as dessert.

Mighty & Weak Elements

Mighty: The Main Cast such as Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Sarah Vowell & the late Elizabeth Penã all did an excellent job for their respective performances.

In addition to The Main Cast, Brad Bird himself voiced Edna Mode. Whose similar to Q from James Bond or Lucius Fox from The Dark Knight Trilogy He did a laugh out loud performance.

Fun Fact: Prior to voicing Edna, Brad wanted Lily Tomlin to voice her, but she decided that he’s best suited as Edna upon hearing his voice. For those who don’t know who Lily is, she’s known as the voice of Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus.

Ok guys & gals, all I have to say is Elastigirl is very attractive.

Besides voicing Edna, Brad Bird did an excellent job directing and writing.

Action Sequences kept me invested without looking at the clock.

Comedy is filled with visual humor, memorable quips or one liners. You can’t forget the infamous “WHERE IS MY SUPERSUIT!”

The Film is influenced by Fantastic Four, Watchmen, X-Men & James Bond all in one complete package.

My favorite scene is when Edna brings up a “no capes” policy. I’m giving this moment an Extra Point for making me laugh hysterically.

A113 is used in one scene. A113 is a reference to a classroom located in “California Institute Of The Arts” (CalArts for short) where Brad use to attend with fellow classmates such as John Lasseter & Tim Burton.

Computer Animation was groundbreaking at the time for Pixar, because they’ve never used a tremendous amount of human characters before other than minor characters or Toy Story villains like Sid & Al. Pixar invented new technology to bring humans to life, Violet Paar’s long hair was also a difficult challenge for them. I’ll give the animation team Bonus Points for all the hard work. Somebody give them a Christmas Bonus for Big Pete’s Sake!

Composer Michael Giacchino orchestrated the music. According to Brad Bird, he wanted the music to resemble 60’s spy films, obviously the early James Bond films. The instrumental theme is inspired by On Her Majesty’s Royal Service. 

Without giving too much away, Character Development involving Mr. Incredible, he goes from a narcissist who cares about reliving “The Glory Days” to a protective family man. Is it me or does almost every Pixar protagonist start as a narcissist? This is perhaps the equivalent of Stephen King’s characters who are often alcoholics.

Bob’s daughter Violet, also earns Character Development. At first she’s a timid girl who wants fit in as a person, then she gains confidence and accepts her unique gift. Brad claims that Violet she was born with a recessive gene due to the fact that she didn’t inherit her parents’ natural hair color. I would assume that the superhero gene can grant you a random trait whether it’s physical or mental similar to “The X-Gene” from X-Men in which random mutants acquire their abilities since birth.

One character mistakenly calls someone named Brody instead of Buddy. Jason Lee starred in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats whose character named Brody, is a huge comic book fan. Looks like Brad Bird has been watching Jay & Silent Bob! I gotta love inside jokes!

Similar to Mr. Glass from Unbreakable, Syndrome would often mentioned or reference a comic book trope. Wait a second?! Both Mr. Incredible & Bruce Willis’ character David Dunn both have super strength and they have an archenemy who’s knowledgeable on comic books. Now I understand why Brad hired Sam to voice Frozone! Brad was also inspired by Unbreakable!

The film predicted Apple’s IPad.

A train scene is used with one character using his power to stop it. Spider-Man 2 also has a similar scene.

A pivotal scene pays tribute to Mission Impossible. I’ll give you a hint, whenever a spy accepts a mission, you know what happens. Brad went on to direct Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

For those who’ve already seen the movie or witnessed a teaser trailer for Incredibles 2, guess who gets a ton of powers?

One scene involving a jet turbine reminded me of the pilot episode’s jet turbine scene from J.J. Abrams’ Lost. Coincidentally, both The Incredibles & Lost came out the exact same year. Also Giacchino scores both Lost & The Incredibles.

Wallace Shawn (Rex from Toy Story) makes a brief appearance as Mr. Humph.

Pixar’s good luck charm John Ratzenberger (Hamm from Toy Story) makes a cameo appearance. His character will get a bigger role in the sequel.

The Ending sets up Incredibles 2. Will finally get to see The Parr Family back on the big screen.

If you want to know what happened to Jack-Jack’s babysitter Kari, watch the short film “Jack-Jack Attack,” after you watch the entire movie. Kari’s scenes were supposed to be in The Final Cut, but Pixar had to trim it out for running time purposes.

Weak: To be honest, I couldn’t find anything wrong with this movie, I’ll have to give Pixar an Extra Point for making it flawless as possible.

An optional con for me is the scene from the teaser trailer is missing. I would’ve given it an Extra Point for Pixar to include it. I’ll give this issue a pass, because Pixar is known for releasing teaser trailers that don’t give anything away related to the plot to keep certain story elements vague.

The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!

The Incredibles is an instant classic among Pixar’s filmography. It is my favorite non-Marvel/non-DC superhero film. Bravo Brad Bird & Pixar for achieving a milestone for winning your first Oscar related to superheroes!

If you’re excited to see Incredibles 2 as much as I am, I strongly recommend the blu-ray/DVD filled with bonus features including files for superheroes who were absent, short film Jack-Jack Attack and of course commentary from Mr. Incredible & Frozone bickering towards a Saturday morning cartoon from The 50’s or 60’s.

Don’t forget to buy Lego Incredibles video game if you want to relive your childhood memories!

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