The first word that comes to mind to describe ‘The Incredibles’, the latest feature length computer animated film from Pixar, is violent. And not just the cute cartoony superhero action, that is featured throughout the movie, but specifically GUN VIOLENCE. From the opening scene to the closing frames, realistic looking handguns and assault rifles are featured as a pivotal part of ‘the Incredibles’. Sure, the villains are carrying the weapons, but it doesn’t hide the awkward and uncomfortable feeling that I get while a nine-millimeter pistol or an Uzi-like machine gun rattling away on-screen.
Certainly there are far worse films as far as cinematic gun violence goes, but it just seems wrong to be seen in a Pixar film. Pixar who’s been rendering sweet yet sophisticated stories to a new generation of animation fans since the 80’s, has finally decided to turn away from their wholesome family values and have entered the competitive teen market of super powered destruction. Perhaps I’m over-reacting, but I strongly recommend Parents look twice at the ‘PG’ rating for ‘The Incredibles’. People expecting the sweet and safe worlds of ‘Toy Story’ or ‘Finding Nemo’ will be in for a surprise, when they find the intense and scary era of ‘the Incredibles’.
Beyond the gun issue, or perhaps partially caused by it, ‘The Incredibles’ also falls short in the overall ‘enchantment’ factor that the Pixar repertoire is famous for. Watching the dysfunctional family of heroes in hiding, bicker amongst themselves gets annoying quickly. And there is little empathy to be had for any of ‘the Incredibles’ as they plod through their adventure. Whereas in all of Pixar’s prior work, the characters were lovable and memorable and made you want to purchase toys of them, ‘the Incredibles’ leaves you cold with haunted memories of shadowy mugging scene where the bad guy kicks a hapless victim on the ground while Mr. Incredible looks on.
The disappointment in ‘the Incredibles’ comes as a surprise on two levels. I never would have expected Pixar to release a film as ‘dark’ as ‘the Incredibles’ is, especially when the writer-director is Brad Bird, the creator of ‘the Iron Giant’, an often overlooked animated film that has a heart of gold. The best part of ‘the Incredibles’ are the stylish end credits which look great, but even these don’t deliver on the Pixar tradition of a special ‘treat’ for audiences who sit through the credits till the end.
But I suppose these are the signs of the times of change, as Pixar completes its ‘five picture deal’ with Disney and moves into the Hollywood scene as a free agent. A time where the Pixar creative team seems to be forced to listen to the same market research that every one else in entertainment does and since Superheroes are still hot this year, they felt compelled to cash in on the trend. Much like they will pander to the NASCAR dads when the next Pixar release ‘Cars’ opens at Thanksgiving 2005.
Wishing for the magic to return to Emeryville’s favored toon makers, for Movie Magazine this is Purple.
© 2004 - Purple - Air Date: 11/3/04
USA - 2004