The Incredibles (2004)
Main cast: Craig T Nelson (Bob Parr/Mr Incredible), Holly Hunter (Helen Parr/Elastigirl), Samuel L Jackson (Lucius Best/Frozone), Jason Lee (Buddy Pine/Syndrome), Dominique Louis (Bomb Voyage), and Jean Sincere (Mrs Hogenson)
Director: Brad Bird

Watching The Incredibles makes me yearn for the irony-free idealism of cartoons of yore. After the success of animated shows like Shrek, everyone is jumping on the Pixar bandwagon to churn out cynicism-driven animated shows that are coming off more and more like expensive reject sitcom episodes. The Incredibles is a painful celebration of middle-class ignorance and crudeness, an evocation of how happy endings are best when they arrive after you mess up completely and have to clean up your crap in time for a feel-good warm hug straight out of a sitcom.

In this movie, superheroes are forced to hang up their spandex after society realizes that there is a killing to be made in suing superheroes that save them from themselves. Mr Incredible, whose powers lie chiefly in his big muscles and not his microscopic brain, is not happy to lead a normal life and his job at the insurance company is suffocating him. Why doesn't he get another job that will make him happy, say, like a firefighter, you ask? But that would require the character to think, and this movie doesn't want people to think. People who think in this movie are villains, like Syndrome who cheerfully uses the gullible Mr Incredible and takes him for a fool for nearly two-thirds of the movie.

So yes, this movie expects me to root for a braindead idiot because he feels stifled by his suburban life. Oh, the poor man, he can't give in to his manly instincts to break things and blow up buildings! How sad, how sad. I'm not supposed to wonder why Elastigirl, the poor wife, is sticking up for and staying with this loser. The two kids they have are stereotypes: the daughter can turn invisible, which is related to her teen angst, and there is this baby who is turning out to be a handful. But who cares, right? Suburban life is all about conformity and mediocrity, and stereotypes are epitomes of such things.

I understand that real-life heroes have midlife crisis issues and they get old and fat. But celebrating these things like The Incredibles do - by making these people heroes because they finally overthrow the bad guys who take advantage of their stupidity - isn't the way to go. Mr Incredible is the poster guy for the stereotype of the dumb stupid lummox whose course of action to solve any problem is to charge ahead and hit his head against the wall again and again until someone tells him that he is hurting himself. I wonder: surely, once in a while, it is okay for heroes to be intelligent?

Rating: 52

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