INCREDIBLES, THE: DVD
He used to be Mr Incredible (voice of Craig T. Nelson) 15 years ago, now he's a bored and flabby Mr Suburban insurance clerk. After an outbreak of incredible bad luck that turned the populace against superheros, the Incredible family went incognito. Mum Helen, previously Elastigirl, (Helen Hunt) is now feeding a toddler, their third child. The older ones Dash (Spencer Fox) and his big sister Violet (Sarah Vowell) also have secret superpowers, which come in handy once the family is accidentally propelled back into the job of saving the world. The danger comes from Syndrome (Jason Lee), a disenchanted fan of Mr Incredible, who has invented some serious weaponry to show the world what he's made of. But the family isn't always united or at peace with each other, under the strain of it all.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's one thing to have a droll idea for an animated movie about retired superheroes dragged out of suburban lethargy to save the world - it's very much another to maintain the idea successfully as satisfying cinema for almost two hours. Brad Bird's scintillating and hilarious comedy does this - without a wasted second. Creative excellence like this gives Hollywood a good name again. And if that weren't enough, this massive 2 disc set includes two terrific animated shorts, lots of making of features, deleted scenes and audio commentaries; in all, and extras package of substance. And it's presented in THX for a superb technical result.
These animated characters are anatomically incomplete - they have no earholes or nostrils, for example - but their humanity surpasses what passes for humans in some movies. The premise is pretty simple, too, but the secret of the film's success is to build on the basic idea so that we are engaged with the characters and the story. What better than the characters becoming anything BUT superhuman, as far as their inter-personal relationships are concerned. The juxtaposition of suburban mum/dad and superhero is rich with comic possibilities; not least if you inject the pain of normal family friction.
This makes the normal dinner squabbles between the brats rather special - but totally recognisable. Bird has made the superhero's home as familiar as our own, with baby spluttering out his teaspoons of food, and the siblings fighting under the table. It works, too, when mum (Helen Hunt) begins to suspect that ex-Mr Incredible, now simply Bob the blob at the insurance company, is doing something he shouldn't, on his nights out with old buddy Lucius ... another ex-superhero, Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson). She suspects ... well, she doesn't know, but could it be another woman. Oh, if only! It's much worse.
And it's through their old costumier, the fashion designer Edna E Mode (Brad Bird) that Helen learns what's really going on, in the film's funniest sequence. Edna wears her black hair short in a square cut, with large black rimmed glasses and has a funny little (vaguely European) accent. Her dialogue is laugh out loud funny, a comedy routine that spoofs every creatively turbo charged designer - especially her illustrated argument against making capes for superheroes. Bird steals the film, almost, from himself. I want to see it all again, mostly to see and hear Edna ...
But there are many other highlights; riotous repartee between husband and wife during several family fights, a strikingly nasty baddie in Syndrome (Jason Lee), excellent shifts from comedy to drama and always a touch of pathos ... and a handful of James Bond-ish sequences to thrill us along the way as adventure meets comedy. There's no shortage of laughs, excitement, genuine drama and human humour in this computer-made but man-created entertainment spectacular.
Disc 2 of this elaborate release offers close to four hours of extras, ranging from 90 seconds of Inredi-Blunders (complete with laugh track!) to 2 animated shorts. The 26 minute Making of is part fly-on-the-wall part structured, but it has a great energy and genuine interest value. It ranges across the spectrum of arts and crafts involved in making this truly special animated film. Best summed up by the mantra adopted by animator John Kahrs: "push it". He admits he was prompted to push his animation to the max, and is satisfied it's the best work he's done. And director Brad Bird points out the crucial elements and we see inside the creative and technical machinery.
There is another chapter with 10 subheadings in Making of, but the fun starts with the two animated shorts; Jack-Jack Attack is a marvellously dark tale of a baby sitter and the baby from hell. The other is Boundin' - a real country toon from Bud Luckey, a guy who grew up in Montana. What's more, he does a real country style commentary! He's no bumpkin, though, one of the designer legends at Pixar; the fifth animator hired by the studio way back when.
The commentaries are shared between Brad Bird and producer John Walker on one track, and the animation team on another. Both are valuable and enormously enlightening. It's a pleasure to report that this excellent film has been packaged in top style befitting the enormous work, enthusiasm and creative enregy that went into it - over four years of blood, sweat and tears (and lotsa laughs).
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INCREDIBLES, THE: DVD (PG)
VOICES: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Wallace Shawn, Sarah Vowell, Spencer Fox, Brad Bird
DIRECTOR: Brad Bird
SCRIPT: Brad Bird
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Jimenez, Janet Lucroy
EDITOR: Stephen Schaffer
MUSIC: Michael Giacchino
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Lou Romano
RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2004
PRESENTATION: Disc 1 -16:9 enhanced; Disc 2: various. Disc 1: THX; DD 5.1. Disc 2: DD 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc 1: audio commentaries. Disc 2: Making of; Top Secret Files on the 'Supers'; deleted scenes & alternative opening; IncrediBlunders; 2 short films - Boundin' and Jack-Jack Attack.
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: BVI Home Ent
DVD RELEASE: April 6, 2005