Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Toon-arama: The Incredibles (2004)

by tryanmax

By the time PIXAR Studios released its sixth feature-length film they had already secured a reputation for instant classics. The Incredibles proved to be no exception, combining family-friendly adventure with enduring themes of proud exceptionalism and the importance of family and teamwork. Because it champions these ideals, it has proven to be a perennial favorite amongst conservatives, and rightly so. On top of that, it is a smart and sophisticated film which proves that children’s entertainment need not be trite. And it hopefully goes without saying that the PIXAR animation team builds a vibrant and exciting world with all the visual panache that a cinema experience should have.
The Story
The world has fallen out of love with superheroes and forced them into hiding. Bob Parr (formerly Mr. Incredible) and his wife Helen (f. Elastigirl) are two such heroes trying to live the typical suburban life, albeit with more than a few hiccups. Their two oldest children, Violet and Dash, also have powers, but they have never been allowed to use them. Their youngest, Jack-Jack, seems to have no powers, but he is only a baby…
All of this changes, however, when Bob is lured to a mysterious island, tempted by financial rewards and — more importantly — the chance to relive his “glory days.” The opportunity turns out to be a trick, however, devised by a spurned fanboy turned nemesis named Buddy, now calling himself Syndrome. Unwittingly, Mr. Incredible has helped Syndrome to perfect an unstoppable doomsday robot which he plans to release on the public. His goal is to stop his own robot, which he controls, and establish himself as a new superhero. The plan goes awry, however, and Buddy bails leaving The Incredibles to stop the unstoppable robot.
Why this movie is so darn good
The Incredibles is a movie that fires on all cylinders from beginning to end. Great characterization, tight script, timeless themes, compelling story, gripping action, fabulous visuals, engaging soundtrack, and family-friendly to-boot!

I put character first because all the rest would be for naught if it weren’t for that. Bob may be the character who gets things rolling, but the focus of this film is the family as an ensemble. To that end, each member of the family has their own personal issue to resolve which they do with each other’s help. And, like all good superheroes, their abilities echo their personalities:
• Super-strong Bob considers himself a solo act, but realizes that he is stronger as part of a team.
• Rubber-band-like Helen learns that she has perhaps been too flexible in accepting a status-quo that discourages excellence.
• Invisible Violet is very much of the shrinking variety until her family’s encouragement gives her confidence to use her gifts.
• Super-fast Dash gets his first chance to cut loose, which slows down his headlong behavior.
But great characters aren’t limited to the family. All the characters are imminently knowable. Buddy/Syndrome is not a motiveless villain; he is driven to take revenge on the boyhood hero who rejected him. In essence, he was created by Mr. Incredible. Villains don’t often have that level of complexity even in adult-oriented films. Even supporting characters Edna and Frozone allude to their pasts and aspirations.

So how do you go about resolving four catharses, establishing a fifth for the villain, and pack in no fewer than five actions sequences in under two hours? You make every second count. Absolutely nothing is wasted in this film. The characters are built through the action, even the heavy, explosion-laden action where other films phone it in. Effective use of montage shows how Bob’s superhero “job” improves his self-image, his relationship with his family, and his lifestyle. A particularly humorous scene with Helen and Edna not only packs in some visual dazzle, it also connects two major plot points: Helen’s discovery of Bob’s secret and the transformation of the family into a superhero team. And every major development is foreshadowed, the most important being Edna’s refusal to add a cape to the new Mr. Incredible costume.
As far as aesthetic goes, I cannot praise this film enough. Digital animators seem to have settled on mid-20th century as a preferred style. This movie capitalizes on the look to great effect, first placing the family in a placid, idyllic suburban setting, then overlaying a spy-thriller feel on the superhero genre with a villain lair to make Dr. Evil blush in envy. The soundtrack emphasizes the spy movie feel a la tones of 007 and Peter Gunn. After a fresh viewing, I feel I ought to seek it out on CD. And the jungle scenes. . . oh my goodness! Some moments could make you forget you’re watching a cartoon they are so lush and vivid!
Conservative Themes
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget. I saved these for last as a segue into the comments section. There is more conservatism on display in this movie than you can shake a stick at, so I know I’ll leave some stuff out.

Plenty of people have already devoted many words to the film’s dual themes of exceptionalism and teamwork as separate concepts, but rarely are they discussed as working together. At first blush, they might seem like opposing concepts: individualism vs. collectivism. But within a conservative framework, both are pulled away from those extremes and brought together. Exceptional teams are built of exceptional individuals, and that is what this movie demonstrates as each character accepts his or her own uniqueness while accepting the unique contributions of the others.
The contrast within the film is anti-exceptionalism. Syndrome is the proxy for a society that turned on the once beloved supers. He reveals his ultimate aim is to use the inventions creates to defeat the supers and then make every normal person super, thereby making no one super. The irony is that Syndrome is so envious of the supers for what they have that he fails to recognize how his own exceptional talent as an inventor sets him apart.

Appreciation over envy is a very strong theme throughout the film. As cheesy as it sounds, the entire film turns on the family realizing how much they have always had to be grateful for. It was Mr. Incredible’s failure to appreciate Buddy’s adoration ultimately spawned a nemesis. But true to the conservative notion that each person is responsible for their own decisions, he is not blamed for Buddy making himself into Syndrome. Syndrome’s conversion isn’t really real, either. He has dressed himself in the trappings of a superhero, and the phony trappings are his ultimate undoing, cape and all. . .

As I said, there are conservative themes galore in The Incredibles, and I know I’ve left many out. Which ones stand out to you?


Commander Max said...

The best line of the whole movie.

Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.

It points directly to the conservatism of the film. As well as a protest of society. Proving that others are frustrated with the idea of exceptional individuals being chastised.

Besides the film being fun beginning to end.
"My God, you've gotten fat."

K said...

Further conservative points:

Anti-Tort Lawyer: Mr. Incredible saves a man trying to commit suicide who then sues him for injuries. This inevitably leads directly to the banning of Supers by the government.

His superhero wife, Helen is a HOUSEWIFE content with keeping house and raising her kids. In the DVD extras, Brad Bird makes a point of this - and in an earlier rough layout scene (later cut) on the DVD Helen is shunned at a party because she's a housewife.

As a sop to the liberals though, Bob works at a medical insurance company whose main objective is to screw the customer out of their payments for medical care.

Anthony said...

The Incredibles is my favorite Pixar movie (I think it and The Dark Knight are hands down the best two superhero movies ever made). My daughters and I watched it recently to wash the bland taste of Brave out of our mouths.

I recognize that it is a conservative movie, but honestly, its conservatism isn't why I enjoy it. I don't care what idealogy a movie has so long as it doesn't let its idealogy get in the way of telling a good story.

I thought the most hilarious line of the movie was 'You didn't save my life, you ruined my death!' and the best scene of the movie was the part where Dash learns he can run across water though a close second is the scene where Mr. Incredible views in horror all the photos of supers Syndrome and Mirage have murdered.

Thinking about the second scene I mentioned, Mirage's conversion didn't make much sense even if Mr. Incredible did spare her life that one time. She had participated in a lot of cold blooded murders of good people and she was fine with her boss's plan of sending a machine to splatter blood on the wall and then make himself a hero by 'defeating' it.

*Shrugs* Still, one can nickpick any movie that way, and that's certainly not a thought I had during my first viewing of the Incredibles (or even my fifth).

tryanmax said...

FYI: I have a busy morning, but I'll be around to respond to comments later. Thanks, everybody!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Excellent analysis of a solidly conservative film! :)

I'll be back soon as well to share more thoughts.

Ed said...

Cool film. This is one of my Pixar favorites. I love the conservatism too. The whole film feels like it's talking to me. I never feel like I'm dodging nonsensical liberal messages

Anonymous said...

I have to do this from memory as I haven't seen The Incredibles in a while and don't own it but here goes. I remember that when Mr. Incredible went to put on his suit again he couldn't fit back into it.As he's realizing this Helen calls him down to dinner and he says "Maybe just a salad." He realizes that if he wants to do this he's going to have to work to fit back in the suit,that good intentions aren't enough. That is the antithesis of liberalism. But the most conservative part of the film for me is,I can't remember exactly what was going on, but Helen tells one of the kids "This is your identity.Don't ever let anyone take this from you." Individualism is at the heart of conservatism. And I didn't see Bob's work at the insurance company as a sop to liberals. I saw it as Bob trying to assert his individual values and swim upstream against the machinery of the nameless, faceless machinery of the bureaucracy that was the company where he worked. Remember Seger's "Feel Like A Number?" The insurance company itself was a good comment. It started off as an insurance company,something meant to help people,but it had morphed into a monolithic bureaucracy that existed only to feed itself. Compare our Constitution to the modern federal government. Just some thoughts.

rlaWTX said...

I've never managed to sit down and watch this one from the beginning - just in pieces. But I have enjoyed it, and I noticed the stifling of personal abilities to make the population happy
- which is one of the major cultural drawbacks of collectivism: your every choice is seen only through the prism of the group and if your personal exceptionalism can't give the group glory, don't show it. [depression and suicide tends to be high among collectivist groups, not only because of the actual loss of "face", but also from the intense frustration between losing face and being unique]

AndrewPrice said...

I agree with Anon in that I never saw the insurance business as a sop to liberals. I saw it as an attack on BIG... big business, big government... the faceless world of the bureaucrat doing wrong without a second thought. And I saw the focus being on Bob, who had fallen into this world of cradle to grave control and now needed to free himself to regain his humanity and his morality.

Individualist said...

This was a really good film.

I find it odd that things like "working together", supporting the family and "earning your way" have to be couched as a conservative argument.

Anonymous said...

Man, I'd forgotten about the film article today. For some reason, I was convinced it was Thursday!

I've always enjoyed this movie though, if I recall correctly, it did take a second viewing for me to really appreciate it. And it seems to be the one Pixar movie that warrants a sequel and isn't getting one anytime soon. But kudos to Brad Bird for not selling out.

Speaking of Brad Bird, he made his live-action debut with the last Mission: Impossible film... and it's safe to say I hadn't enjoyed a (new) film that much in years!

I, too, love the design of The Incredibles. The Ken Adam/James Bond influence is clear and, as for the music, before they brought on Michael Giacchino, I read Pixar approached John Barry but I guess it didn't work out.

Oh, by the way, this doesn't happen often but from reading other comments elsewhere, I hate when conservatives have a knee-jerk reaction to words like "teamwork" and "sharing." When BH reviewed Toy Story 3, some idiot commenter accused the film of being Commie propaganda because the kids in the daycare are taught to share their toys.

Last time I checked, there was a HUGE difference between kids voluntarily sharing their toys and the government involuntary "sharing" your paycheck! To quote Ed Wood, this commenter was "Stupid stupid stupid!" :-D

tryanmax said...

Max, that really is a great line, and don't forget, Syndrome echos it later on. Nothing in this script is incidental; it all ties to some other event. That's why it's so good!

Edna is a hilariously blunt character. Incidentally, she is voiced by the film's writer and director, Brad Bird. I also like the dialogue between Frozone and his wife that begins, "Honey? Where's my super suit?" voiced by the spot-on Saumuel L. "M*ther-F***ing" Jackson. ;-)

tryanmax said...

K, I actually managed to get a stripped-down version of the DVD w/o the special features. Not sure how I did that. I have seen the supplemental short "Jack-Jack Attack" which is cute and explains babysitter Kari's exasperated phone messages.

In fairness, I don't think the film ever makes clear what type of insurance Bob is in. It's an old trope that insurance companies deny claims by default, so I don't take it as much of a sop. I think the point is that Bob wants to help people but finds himself in this soul-sucking job instead.

tryanmax said...

Anthony, no doubt, this is just a good movie regardless of your politics because it espouses values everyone can agree with. I'm sure many liberals like it too, but I'm hard-pressed to imagine how they square it with their ideology. By running this site, Andrew is doing a tremendous thing, finding common ground between the factions through pop-culture.

Dash is my favorite character, especially now that I have a boy of my own. That's how boys seem to grow, by diving into situations and only then discovering if they are up for it. It's a great way to visually develop a character.

I can get around Mirage's conversion simply because this is a film that respects the audience by not spelling everything out. She does have a moment of revelation when Helen announces there are children on the plane, as though that's the first time she ever considered the possibility that supers can have families.

Perfection is rare, but this movie is about as close as they come.

tryanmax said...

Ed, it's rare to find a movie that respects the audience as much as The Incredibles, especially amongst children's movies.

tryanmax said...

Anon, the fitness aspect is one of those areas where the movie brilliantly combines a bit of humor with a bit of wisdom. It shows that no matter how "super" you are, there can always be improvement. I also get a kick out of the part where Helen beats up a bunch of bad guys, then sighs at the sight of her posterior in the mirror.

I know the line you're talking about. When Helen gives the kids their masks she tells them, "Your identity is your most valuable possession. Protect it." I think that advice is more prescient today than when the film came out.

tryanmax said...

rlaWTX, Wow! That's a much darker take on the subject than the movie takes, and it doesn't shy away from darkness. In fact, that's one of the things I like most about the film. If you haven't seen it clear through, I highly, highly recommend it.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, if you notice, aesthetically they emphasize that Bob (a man of gigantic stature) doesn't fit in the compact cookie-cutter bureaucratic world. You immediately feel really bad for him, not because his life is bad, but because it isn't as good as it ought to be.

tryanmax said...

Indie, maybe I wasn't quite clear in my premise. It isn't that working together and earning your way are only conservative. It's that conservatism tempers the extremes that can come from each, i.e. collectivism for "working together" and isolationism for "earning your way."

Ed said...

tryanmax, I agree. Few films at all respect their audiences these days and certainly not many in the children's genre. This one did and I liked that a lot. I felt the same about UP, like it was made for smart adults.

tryanmax said...

Scott, the sequel rumblings are still going on, but I'm not holding my breath. Speaking of Brad Bird, he's behind another of my all-time favorites, The Iron Giant. I should probably put that on the to-do list. And he really did bring something back to the MI franchise.

I've unfortunately encountered the "teamwork = communism" mindset, too. To me, that simply isn't conservatism. Like I just told Indie, I find conservatism in balance.

tryanmax said...

Ed, I haven't seen UP yet, but you can be sure I'll mention it when I do.

Anthony said...


I think a lot of the same people enjoyed The Dark Knight and Avatar despite them being on opposite ends of the political spectrum (and The Dark Knight being a vastly superior film).

Its my theory that genre fans will show up for an entertaining movie regardless of its politics unless the makers seem more intent on lecturing them then entertaining them.

I agree about quality of the Incredibles. I would watch a sequel, though the first one tied up all of the personal problems/conflicts that were part of the what made it so interesting.

Doc Whoa said...

Cool film tryanmax and an excellent review. this is definitely a conservative favorite. I wonder if liberals like it too or if they instinctively fear it's messages? I wonder if they understand the messages?

BIG MO said...

YES!! I LOVE THIS MOVIE! (OK, enough shouting.) Great review, tryanmax. You hit the big themes just right.

As others have said, Incredibles is a wickedly funny movie, and also that rare breed, a film that is quotable nearly from start to finish.

So many parts I love about this film; here are just six of them:

1) The expression on Helen's face and the sound of her voice when she reluctantly identifies herself as Elastagirl while on the phone with Edna.

2) After she sneaks into Syndrome's lair, Helen stops to admire her figure in a mirror -- and then sighs at the size of her hips & butt. (Which are pretty darn good for an animated mother of two, but, um...anyway.)

3) Helen again: Her wordless takedown of the Syndrome guards while she's literally stretched between two doorways.

4) Bob's less-than-graceful arrival at the island for the first time. I couldn't stop laughing when the Syndrome goon had to use
a plunger to stuff the not-so-lean Bob into the ejection capsule.

5) The little laugh that Dash gives when he realizes that he's literally running on water is a fantastic bit of film making.

6) The exchange between Lucius/Frozone and his unseen wife, Honey, is priceless:

Lucius: [Has just noticed the Omni-Droid rampaging through the city with a military helicopter chasing and shooting at it, but the bullets from it are not destroying the Omni-Droid. He checks where his suit should be; it is not there.] Honey?

Honey: What?

Lucius: Where's my super suit?

Honey: What?!


Honey: I, uh, put it away!

[Helicopter crashes outside the window]
Lucius: Where?!

Honey: Why do you need to know?!

[Lucius runs through the house apartment looking for his suit.]
Lucius: I need it!

Honey: Nuh-uh! Don't you think about runnin' off and doin' no daring-do! We've been planning this dinner for two months!

Lucius: The public is in danger!

Honey: My evening's in danger!


Honey: "Greater good"?! I am YOUR WIFE! I'm the greatest good you are ever gonna get!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, This is a deep film and things like that (Bob's size not fitting) are excellent examples of how a very clever filmmaker can make points across the board even without saying things specifically. This film is crawling with subtle psychological points which reinforce the main message that you should strive to be an individual and not part of a collective.

Anonymous said...

tryanmax -

Ed, I haven't seen UP yet, but you can be sure I'll mention it when I do.

Bring a box of tissues! You'll need them pretty damn quick.

tryanmax said...

Doc, Like I was telling Anthony, I bet liberals do like it too, because most liberals don't think of themselves as communist progressives. A movie like The Incredibles could be a good bit of common ground to remind those folks of what they truly value. And, doubtless, there are those who like it but just take it as a nonsensical bit of fantasy. Too bad for them.

tryanmax said...

BIG MO, LOL! I think you hit on at least a fraction of my favorite scenes.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, subtlety is one of the strong suits of The Incredibles, which is somewhat ironic for a hero flick. The overall story arc follows an established pattern wherein the protagonist must pull away from collective society to find his individual worth before returning to become part of a team. The distinction between a team and a mere group cannot be overstated.

tryanmax said...

Scott, noted! :-)

T-Rav said...

Great review, tryanmax! This is one of my very favorite animated movies, and maybe the best movie PIXAR ever came up with. My one regret is that they still haven't made a sequel yet. If they had managed to come up with a franchise, or even a television or comic book series, and stuck to the same themes, I think The Incredibles could have been a great vehicle for delivering conservative messages to audiences. Hmmm, maybe that's why.

And like Commander Max noted, the exchange between Helen and Dash is one of the best expressions of conservative thought you can find.

Anonymous said...

Our family loves this movie! Big Mo nailed our favorite line about the "...greatest good you are ever gonna get!" Don't know why my wife keeps repeating that to me over the years?

Great review as I never thought too deeply about the conservative themes, but they are all over it. However, I must point out one error...

"My name isn't Buddy!!" Don't think they ever really said what it was.

T-Rav said...

Anonymous, no, his name was Buddy, but he didn't like it and wanted to be known as "Incrediboy," and then "Syndrome." Hence, "My name isn't Buddy!!"

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, thanks. I've been mulling over it myself and I can't really think of a PIXAR film that I like better. It's just an incredibly sound movie from all angles.

tryanmax said...

Anon, this is easily one of the most quotable movies out there.

rlaWTX said...

Ed, I LOVED "Up"! That was a great movie.
And, yes, bring tissue for the beginning. Even though my parents didn't make it that far (married just short of 30 years when dad died), I think of them during that montage (except the kids part). They crotchety old man whose life didn't end up like he expected; the kid whose dad doesn't have time for him who is looking for a role model; the talking dog ("Squirrel!"). Awesome movie.
I think that's that movie about which my tough, USMC brother growled "stupid animated movie making me cry."

Commander Max said...

This was one movie that shouldn't have a sequel.

Because it screams series.

Perhaps nothing else came of the film, because Bird wanted it to convey a very specific message.

After all look what they did to Cars, the first film was one of Pixar's best, the second one of the worst(I never saw it, the premise was so dumb, why bother).

Commander Max said...

Someone had to mention Up.
That film taught me to never buy a Pixar film unseen again.

I consider it one of their worst. They killed off a main character in the fist act, then went on about it for the rest of the movie. I never got past that, neither did my wife. She was crying the entire film, all I could think about was loosing her. Not a good way to set up a movie.

tryanmax said...

Max, I'm torn whether there should be a sequel (or more). On one hand, I see what they did to Cars. Very disappointing, I must say, even with Michael Caine. On the other hand, you feel like you know these characters in just under two hours and you want to spend more time with them. Very tough.

T-Rav said...

I don't know--I think some movies lend themselves to sequels more than others. Cars, for example, didn't really need a sequel, or have anywhere obvious to go with one. I guess maybe you could have had a good script, but it would have taken some very inspired thinking.

The Incredibles, though, I could see them easily doing a good sequel. There's no reason to necessarily consider the story at an end; as long as they stick to basic character and thematic elements from the original, they could really go places.

Still, there is a danger of deterioration and getting co-opted by liberal messaging, so they would have to be careful in managing any future films.

K said...

Max: I'm glad someone else felt the same way I did about "UP".

Setting up a character like that and then killing her off just dumped the entire experience for me. The movie should have started just after her death.

Not that it would have made the film a classic or something as the rest of the movie was just a mess. Cute dog scenes, but the big mcguffin was dumb, played to the eco crowd and the annoying kid was a negative bonus.

rlaWTX said...

it's funny how different people see the same thing and feel totally different about it... I still think Up was awesome. Maybe because my mom HAD lost her best friend when my dad died too soon...

Unknown said...

tryanmax: Just got home, and it looks like most of the comments I would have made have already been taken. So I'll just say I thought the movie was clever, enjoyable and wholesome, as did my kids and grandkids. Excellent review.

ScyFyterry said...

tryanmax, Exellent review! I take it toon-arama will become a series?

I liked The Incredibles but not as much as a lot of other people did. I thought it was good, but not great. It's not that I didn't like the effort, the movie just felt kind of flat to me.

Koshcat said...

Great review and one of my favorite movies. My kids love it too and there are so many great lines.

It was stated before, but one of my favorite scenes is when Dash finds out he is running so fast he can walk on water. That joyful giggle might just be the best line of all time.

And the theme that although family members might bicker, they always help each other out in a bind. Dash flying in to protect his sister is awesome.

Too much in this film to comment. Great review.

tryanmax said...

Hawk, thanks for the kind words. Hopefully you'll get in sooner on the next one!

tryanmax said...

Terry, a Toon-arama series is the plan, so stay tuned!

I'm surprised you thought the movie was flat. That's a pretty typical, and just, criticism of most animated features, but I feel this one defies that. Care to elaborate?

tryanmax said...

Koshcat, I agree. I left so much out of my article beforehand and so much more comes to mind since. The scene with Dash learning he can run on water is simply brilliant. Just watching it the first time, you think, "Oh, cool!" But then when you go back and think about it, it's a very clever way to expand Dash's character, too.

ScyFyterry said...

tryanmax, Andrew once wrote about "toon physics" and that's been my complaint with all the Pixar stuff actually. It all feels like a regular movie, only animated rather than an animated movie. And because of that I rarely like modern animated films. this one I thought was good, but it didn't grab me in any special way that made me love it. Probably the only Pixar story to do that for me was Toy Story.

Mycroft said...

No one's mentioned my favorite scene, so here goes:
After landing the RV and skidding to a stop, Mr Incredible tells his wife to get the kids to safety while he goes to stop the invincible robot. She stops him to say they have to work together to stop it.
"No, I'm not strong enough!"
"Then let us help you!"
"No, I can't lose you again..."
Brings a tear to my eye every time.

T-Rav said...

For the record, I have never seen Up, so I have nothing to say about those plot points. I do, however, enjoy the clip with the talking dog in it.

"Squirrel! Hi there...."

tryanmax said...

Terry, fair enough.

tryanmax said...

Mycroft, I think we've all focused on the exciting, funny, and insightful moments, but there are a number of touching scenes like the one you mention, too.

I keep coming back to Dash running on water for the first time, because it touches me and excites me at the same time. Here is a boy who, for his whole life, knew he could do more than he was allowed. This is the first time he ever doubts his ability and he learns he can do more than he thought! Those are special moments in life.

tryanmax said...

Terry, I located the article you mentioned earlier. In case anyone else is interested: LINK

Floyd R. Turbo said...

The Incredibles is in my all-time Top 5. Helen Parr's "they will kill you" speecj is one of the greatest monologues ever written for the screen.

The look, the music, the writing, the voice-acting is all top notch.

tryanmax said...

Floyd, I didn't get into the voice acting much, did I? I know some people lament the loss of artists who can provide multiple characters, and I am among them to an extent. But with this film, the casting was done based on appropriateness to the part rather than fame of the actors and it carries off nicely as a result.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, My problem with modern voice acting isn't the loss of voice actors who can do multiple characters, it's the casting of famous people to do the voices.

I see that as a needless gimmick designed to bring in people who worship celebrity and I find it distracting when I can visualize the actor reading the part.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I totally hear you. If Robin Williams does another cartoon, it will be much too soon. Part of my problem with the Madagascar series is the all-star cast. I know those voices too well as characters other than the animals and it ruins it for me. Same with Ice Age. Somehow, Shrek doesn't seem so bad, maybe because Mike Meyers is truly talented with accents and Eddie Murphy has played several other roles that are like Donkey (that sounds much worse than I mean it).

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree. Each of those films, except Shrek just screamed "look at me, I'm famous... you know me from other roles!" I was never able to see the animals at all, just the actors.

Shrek was different, I think, because Meyers never has played himself. He's always been something different and always used different voices to make the characters unique, so there wasn't a Mike Meyers to think about. Also the crazy voice he used was new (unless you could Fat Bastard) so it didn't sound like him, it sounded like the character. Compare that to Robin Williams who always does "crazy" voices, but always does the exact same voice.

The chick (whose name escapes me) is a typical bland Hollywooder whose voice I couldn't recognize if my life depended on it.

Murphy was Eddie Murphy, but again, he was just different enough that I could see it as a mix of him and Donkey, especially as he was the only one I felt I recognized.

But in most of these films, the people just play the characters using their normal voices and it's impossible not to see them.

rlaWTX said...

Shrek "chick" is Cameron Diaz, I think

rlaWTX said...

oops - too soon
...who does epitomize "Hollywood bland".

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, That's her. And I agree... nothing memorable about her.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Superb review, tryanmax!
I love this film. I agree, there was no wasted scenes, and I never find myself getting bored with any part of this film.

Pixar sure did set the bar high with The Incredibles.

IRT UP: I think it's a pretty good film. Yes, there are some annoying scenes, but overall it was worth a look.

The biggest problem of UP was the first scene, which, IIRC about 10 minutes, was one of the most memorable and poignant scenes I have ever seen in a film.

That's a good thing. However, the rest of the film wasn't even close to the quality of that first scene, so it felt like a letdown, in a sense.

But I still recommend watching it at least once, if for nothing else, that first scene.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Here's an interesting question -- do you think UP would have been better if they'd held off the opening scene until somewhere near the end?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That's an interesting question alright! LOL!
Yes, if it's nearer to the middle of the film. There was a lot of wasted scenes after the beginning act, so they could've done that, extending the first act, which was very endearing to watch.

I would've preferred that and cleaning up the rest of the film and raising the quality of writing after the first act.

It's like they had one really great writer doing the first act, and a mediocre writer with moments of goodness doing the rest.
I was jarring and glaringly noticable, IMO.

I was like "what in the hell happened? Why did they do that? How could the first act be so good and the rest so bleh?"

I dunno.

tryanmax said...

Ben, thanks! I told someone before, I can't think of anything else that PIXAR has done which is better.

With all this talk about UP, I may have to put that one up next.

Commander Max said...

I've got to get in on this one. Up would have been a much better film without the death in the first act. Besides saving my wife and I from being depressed for the rest of the film.

Death is a very serious thing thing to deal with. I felt Up threw it around like it was any other other emotion. Oh course it is, but it's the final emotion. Which will overshadow everything else, which is what it did for me while watching Up. It makes me think of a time that I might loose my wife. What makes it worse is we can associate with the characters(no kids, being in love, etc). I think the writers/director were trying for something on the edge for Pixar. After all they have had a great deal of success. Since CG can do anything these days there isn't anywhere else to go. So they feel have to try to do something to impress people. They went for an extreme in the story line. Which I think backfired on them. After all you can't get past death, it would have worked better at the end of the film.

Besides Pixar films are about fun, death is hardly fun.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, I liked UP a lot and I thought the opening was really touching, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to move that opening to the end to explain why the old guy is so glum throughout the movie.

I'm not sure if that wouldn't be too heavy for a kid's movie, but it could make for a heck of a solid ending.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Max, you rais a good point. On the one hand, it is depressing, but otoh it also can be taken as a reminder not to take our souse for granted and to live life to the fullest with them.

But it is a good idea to make that the last part of the film.
I was thinking middle, but on second thought, you are right, there's really no way to top death...except with life, but the rest of the film wasn't strong enough to do that, IMO, so last would've been best.

But yeah, it was a surprise for a kids film. Then again, Old Yeller was a kids film too. I certainly would be careful, if I had small kids around, to make sure kids are mature enough to take it before showing Up to them.

I mean, Old Yeller really tore me up when I was a little kid, but I had lost a grandma by that time to cancer.
The puppy at the end helped though (sorry for the spoiler to Old Yeller). :^)

tryanmax said...

Ya know, I've still never seen Old Yeller. I ought to get around to that one of these days.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Tryanmax. Old Yeller is a great film. Also a very conservative film, by necessity I might add.
I couldn't imagine it being a good film otherwise, the way the story is told and the time that it's set in.

AndrewPrice said...

We read "Old Yeller" in 7th grade, but I never saw the film.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

It's worth a look, Andrew. I think it still holds up well because the underlying principles in the film are timeless.

If you ever do watch it I would appreciate your take on it. I don't recall reading the book so I have no idea if the film does the book justice, or vice versa.

At any rate it's a good film, and much deeper than it appears.

Commander Max said...

I only saw "Old Yeller" once. Your not a man if you didn't cry. That's all I'll say.

Ben your right, I never thought of it. The film wasn't balanced enough to pull it off. Obnoxious kid, dogs and another old man. They didn't get it together to bring one out of the tragedy of the first act.

I think Ed Asner was part of the problem. To my memory he always came across as a grumpy old man. No matter what he says, or how he says it. He is still grumpy old Ed Asner.

Anthony said...

I suspect the sequence of the old man's life in Up prior to becoming an old man resonates more with adults then kids. Not that kids are indifferent to death, but they lack the grasp of mortality and the cruelty of random fate (remember when the couple learns they can't have kids) that gave the sequence its weight.

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