“Hey, Bryce. Doesn’t Teaira look like Violet? From The Incredibles?” Ten years ago, in my sophomore year of high school, my friends and I sat on the floor musing about everything and anything, a frequent pastime of ours. This is the memory that is pulled from my mental archive when someone mentions the Incredible family, initiating an elaborate chain of movie scenes often bringing a smile to my face. Family-friendly animation movies have a relatively short shelf-life, undergo a wave of popularity and delight, only to dissipate years later. The Incredibles is one of those rare productions where I will randomly hear someone say, “I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.”
In 2004, The Incredibles was the epitome of innovation from an animation perspective. Other animated movies released in the same year, Shark Tale, Home on the Range, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, were easily forgettable and remained on the safer side with 2D Animation. Pixar Animation Studios, with Disney, elevated the expectations of audiences and heightened the technological and artistic levels needed to successfully bring 3D animation to the forefront. Where is the result of this advancement most noticeable? Hair. Unexpected, I know. If you think about it, the idea becomes fathomable: thousands upon thousands of strands, how light reflects, where shadows linger, and the movement. The movement says it all. I’m not going to use Violet as an example because my friend had likened me to her. I select her on the basis of the difficulty level. Visual effects artists had to work with additional bulk and colorists had to add dimension; how do you add dimension to blackness? On multiple occasions, the realism is noticeable: the dry texture, the gentle sway of a breeze, the faultlessness of a strand lending to a complete look.
At the time, when superheroes were predominantly male, The Incredibles added variation to the testosterone lineup with Violet and Helen Parr, a/k/a Elastigirl, the wife of Mr. Incredible. Helen is strategic, smart, focused, and independent, with an underlying sassiness. Violet is an example of growth, and indicative of the changes that occur during the teenage years. Together they are representative of a transformative woman, cooperative side by side yet independently with men, for the greater good.
One of the more difficult elements to achieve, particularly in animation, is humor. Humor that is not forceful or does not stray away from the story in order to get a laugh. Director and writer Brad Bird balances action, dramatic, and humor sequences that are not necessarily balanced, but compliment each other in a manner that maintains an engaging pace. My favorite scene (it appears to be a favorite of everyone’s) is the “Where’s my supersuit?” scene. It is less than a minute long and yet, I can never tire of it. The tone inflections, emphasis on certain words, and the word choice in itself, make this scene stand out on its own. We do not even need to see Honey as she and Frozone argue about his supersuit whereabouts; the energy in her voice alone is enough to bring her presence. The Incredibles has other scenes that add humorous diversity into the mix, many of which feature Edna Mode, the suit designer for the supers. Edna is a distinguishable supporting character in Pixar’s roster of characters. Although relatively minor in the entire scope of the movie, Edna has the most recognizable lines. Her stature, voice, mannerisms, and style all go back to the unforced nature of humor that Bird integrates effortlessly into the movie.
With The Incredibles being as successful as it was, a sequel is a tall order to fill. Fans, both young and old, are bound to make comparative judgements. I have hope, as Pixar has demonstrated with the Toy Story trio, the second installment will appease our curiosity as to how the Incredible family adjusted to their new life embracing their superpowers, instead of concealing them. Particularly in the case of Jack Jack who has an arsenal of powerful capabilities at his disposal. The Incredibles is almost unbound by time. Aside from the car models, wired landline telephone, and boxy desktop monitor, there are no glaring props to limit this movie to a specific time period. Instead, it is a film that younger generations can appreciate without the disclaimer of “giving it a chance”; it is unnecessary in this case. Remember, if you are thinking about becoming a hero of your city: No capes.