[Cinema Sunday] ‘The Incredibles’ – Animated Super-Family

The Incredibles

Hey, c’mon. We’re superheroes. What could happen?” – Elastigirl

Another super-sequel is going to be hitting the theaters soon. While the world laughs and thrills to Deadpool and X-Force kicking butt and taking names, there’s another super-team looming on the horizon. Get ready and get set for the sequel everyone has been wanting since 2004. Witness the return of Pixar’s super-family…The Incredibles!

Back when The Incredibles first came out in theaters, it was a very much beloved movie. The idea of a superhero story that was about a family of supers, kids as well as parents, seemed to really connect with audiences. So how did the animated feature come about? Here is where the history comes to life.

Sometimes animated features start out as an idea from the director, or even the writer. But when the director is ALSO the writer, that’s a whole different story. Brad Bird was a byproduct of 60’s childhood culture, which meant he was an avid consumer of comic books and spy films. Flash forward to the early 1990’s, when Brad was breaking into the animation game with his first project, the much beloved Iron Giant. In spite of it being a box office bomb at the time, Brad did not give up.

Jumping into the new millennium, Brad reconnected with an old friend, John Lasseter. Lasseter worked at Pixar. Together they pitched the project and upon being greenlit, things began moving forward. Two all important facets helped make the movie the smash success it was at the time, its cast and the production elements.

A voice cast for any major animated or computer generated motion picture is a challenge. Finding the right people who best embody the vision of the director and writer means digging in and like in casting a live movie, getting voice artists who can convey the character in the recording studio and have it translate onto screens.

Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Spencer Fox, Sarah Vowell, Samuel L. JacksonJason Lee and Brad Bird. All of them big names stars in their own right. But put them together and part of a super story such as this, and the end result is one that is downright amazing. Every one of them used their considerable gifts to help bring the characters to life. 

Moving on to the production aspect of the adventure, well that is a whole different story. Computer animation in Hollywood was still fairly new at the time of The Incredibles release. Films like Toy Story and Bugs Life proved that the venture could be successful both creatively and financially. But to craft a movie where instead of toys and insects, it’s ‘the real world’, with people and cars and buildings and things like water, smoke and clouds, therein lies a challenge.

To help give a better sense of what went on at the time, is a video that is the behind-the scenes look at how the process to bring the real world to the computer generated one came about. Enjoy!

A sad fact is that upon initial release, The Incredibles had a very underwhelming reaction from the public. First reaction box office figures were only $70 million dollars domestically, though added in with later sums and worldwide amounts it would more than make back its budget.

However, critics lauded it and loved it. Roger Ebert wrote at the time a sterling review. An excerpt from it reads:

The Pixar Studios, which cannot seem to take a wrong step, steps right again with “The Incredibles,” a superhero spoof that alternates breakneck action with satire of suburban sitcom life. After the “Toy Story” movies, “A Bug’s Life,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Finding Nemo,” here’s another example of Pixar’s mastery of popular animation.”

This just goes to show that even with a soft opening gambit, any movie, animated or otherwise, can still capture the hearts and minds of both moviegoers and critics.

And after all these many years, fans can rejoice. In just a few short weeks on  June 15, The Incredibles 2 will be opening in theaters everywhere. While many superhero sequels take place further down the road from the first story, this time it is different. Incredibles 2 will literally start up right after the ending of the first tale, with the Parr family getting back into superheroing and events being put in place for the eventual return of the supers, as well as a new villain for them to contend with.

Now while it is a bit cold and gray outside today in the Midwest region, in other areas it is sunny and nice no doubt. So take the chance to enjoy some springtime activity. Ride a bike, play with the family, relax.

In the evening, after the dishes have been put away, make time for more family fun. Nothing says family fun like watching a movie together, especially a great piece like The Incredibles. And keep those eyes peeled and ready for when the sequel comes out. It’s going to be a super time.