Okay, I didn't know,
but I wasn't about to admit it. I just figured that with as greenbacks
that get shoveled into the fiery furnace of Ben Assfuck and his
ilk that there had to be some truly talented people who wanted
to make movies. Of course, 99.9% of the time, they're hampered
by the equivalent of rows of razor wire. First, clever writers
are discouraged by unclever agents who aren't smart dream beyond
what was hot last week; and no studio wants to read something
by un unagented writer. If you get past that, then you face directors
who'd much rather make career-preserving comedies with rapping
grannies, precocious kids, or, when they want to be taken seriously,
mopey Englishmen at a crossroads in their lives.
Assuming you get past
all that without being shredded to ribbons, you still have to
sell your story to a studio that will add Freddie Prinze, Jr.
and Hilary Duff to make sure they can sell tickets to teenagers.
And then you have to inch through the minefield of rewrites, and
the helpful input of hundreds of worthless studio hacks who think
they know better than you what you want to say. Finally, Freddie
Prinze gets to say what his character does. Hollywood movies end
up getting made not by people who want to tell great stories,
but by people who are obnoxious, relentless and more interested
in getting something made than making something great.
So, it's a miracle
when a movie of singular, comprehensive vision is made. The only
people who can manage that are the ones who say "fuck you" to
Hollywood. And their movies are usually made in someone's garage
with an old Super 8 camera, firecrackers and some Revel models
of mid-60s hot rods.
Every now and then,
though, something slips through the system with only scrapes and
bruises. I don't know if it's because of the creator's dexterity
or because he found a shortcut through the obstacle course. All
I know is we've got to be thankful for movies like The Incredibles.
It's not perfect, but it's pretty fucking great and so complete
and consistent. It's the rare movie that doesn't seem to have
compromised anything, and was not the creation of some asshole's
ego, but a true love for storytelling.
The Incredibles are
a family of superheroes that have been relocated after the actions
of them and other superheros created a flurry of lawsuits from
an ungrateful public. Settled into a drab suburban existence,
Mr. Incredible dreams of his past fame and adulation, when he'd
stop runaway trains and fight off archvillains on a daily basis.
He misses the opportunities to save the world and is bored by
his lousy job and suburbs. One night, he is secretly summoned
from his drab home to help the government battle a new enemy,
a gigantic octopus-like robot on a tropical island. He sneaks
away without telling Mrs. Incredible, nee Elastigirl, because
he knows she'd disapprove.
Actually, he learns
the call for help did not come from the government, but from a
guy named Buddy who was once Mr. Incredible's biggest fan. When
Mr. Incredible rebuffed Buddy's attempts to help him, the boy
grew bitter. Now, as an adult, Buddy wants to kill the world's
remaining superheroes and then unleash his weapons on the world.
Not to destroy it, but so he can play dress up in tights as crimefighter
Syndrome, come to the rescue and be worshipped like the heroes
he once adored.
After learning of the
plot and the trouble Mr. Incredible has gotten himself into, Elastigirl
and their two kids come to his rescue, and then save the world.
Just like old times. They unleash their superpowers without the
shame of being different.
It's a cute plot, not
great, but it plays out brilliantly because of director/writer
Brad Bird's conviction in it. There are no cheap and lame pop-culture
references, the kind Dreamworks ladles over everything because
they don't really trust the source material. But Bird does, and
it allows him to go deep into it. Every scene is packed with modest
and subtle detail. The story takes place in the rocket-age mid-60s
and every detail is period perfect without mocking. The streets
are lined with Thunderbirds and Galaxies (a lot of 64s for some
reason), and the settings are consistent and complete. The tropical
island of Syndrome is a better James Bond setting than anything
we've seen in 20 years, and so are the gadgets. Nothing in this
vision is sacrificed for a cheap gag. And nothing is stretched
too thin for the sake of story. The devices, superhero strengths
and settings are all of a single fantastic world about two steps
Similarly, every character
is more than a compilation of formulaic motivations wrapped in
corny jokes. They have depth and warmth. The middle of the story
is a little dull, though. If I wanted to spend this much time
with disillusioned suburbanites, I could go watch the screaming
parents at the soccer fields. But otherwise, they are treated
with respect by Bird, and much more entertainingly than the sour-faced
superheroes of every other recent comic-book movie. Seriously,
it's so fucking refreshing to see a movie about people who can
fly and lift trains that isn't more intent on proving its legitimacy
than on simply entertaining.
is not a hilarious movie, and it's not slightly sappy like Finding
Nemo. It's really geared more to 8-year-old boys than the
little kids or the parents who want the TV to babysit their God-damned
brats for hours on end. There are funny parts and some funny characters,
but mostly it's just solid character-based storytelling. And that's
pretty fucking great.
for The Incredibles. It's not perfect, but it's pretty
exciting to see storytelling so fully realized.