Another trump from Pixar, this is the studio’s tooniest toon yet, ditching high-sheen computer-generated naturalism for a world of sleek stylisation and plastic-fantastic action spectacular: our heroes are a family of dormant superheroes (Bob Parr né Mr Incredible, his missus the one-time Elastagirl and their high-powered offspring), languishing under the constraints of the FBI’s superhero relocation programme after a series of encounters with litigious citizens puts them out of action. Then a secret-mission invite snags Mr I’s curiosity…
Plot logic isn’t the film’s strongest suit, and its rapid gag rate and quick-heeled turns of tale don’t wholly paper over some questions begged, not to mention some ideological loose ends. The film brilliantly acknowledges the experience of parental compromise and glory-days nostalgia, commingles that with the everyman fantasy of repressed eminence, and then seems to egg on the latter’s anti-egalitarian ethic: how else to interpret the dictum that ‘saying everyone is special is another way of saying no one is,’ a jibe the film makes twice? And its pastiche of caped-crusader tropes neatly (and unironically) synchs with the enduring American daydream of global salvation.
But what pastiche, what playfulness! Seamlessly blending comic-book caper, domestic comedy and sci-fi spy fantasy, the film is a triumph of design, wit and zip, from its villain’s retro-futurist island hideaway to the montage of superhero couture faux-pas presented by the Incredibles’ dotty confidante Madame Edna (Bird’s own spoof of the late Hollywood costumier Edith Head). Bombastic finale aside, it’s a cut (and an age-range) above the simplicities of ‘Finding Nemo’. Bud Luckey’s accompanying short rhyming rondelay ‘Boundin’’ is double reason to get to the cinema on time.