Last night, I walked into the theater hopeful but prepared for disappointment. After waiting for THE INCREDIBLES for what has seemed like ages, I had exceedingly high hopes for this film. The relentless onslaught of hype about Brad Bird’s latest, some of it on this very site, hadn’t helped the cause and further heightened expectations to an unreasonable excess. This film would have to be nothing short of one of the greatest animated films of all-time for me to not walk out of that theater disappointed.
Well, guess what?
THE INCREDIBLES is hands-down, without contest, the most entertaining animated feature I’ve ever seen. Yes, let me repeat that: THE MOST ENTERTAINING ANIMATED FEATURE I’VE EVER SEEN. Greatest film? Perhaps a bit hasty to make that judgement with the film still so fresh in my memory, but I can’t ever recall being so purely entertained and enthralled by an animated feature. This film didn’t just meet my expectations, didn’t just surpass them, it shattered them, crushed them into smithereens. There’s so many things I want to write about this film, so many little great moments and nuances that I want to discuss, but I’m not about to ruin it for everybody else. Experience this film for yourself and then we’ll talk.
One observation though: what was perhaps most impressive about THE INCREDIBLES was the flawless cohesion of its every element. The family dynamic could have easily been hampered with contrived emotion and heavy-handed sentimentality (just think back to the father-son relationship in FINDING NEMO); the non-stop action sequences could have turned into a muddy mind-numbing assault of color and noise, as most action films do today; the supporting characters could have become one-note annoyances that threw the viewer out of the story; the retro mid-century BG stylings could have become excessively ornamental and tacky. Everything could have and yet nothing did. Nothing did because Brad Bird is the best feature animation director working in the biz today, and he has struck the perfect balance between each and every element in his film resulting in an exquisite tapestry of story, character, animation, design, warmth, emotion, humor and satire. Props to Brad, and the entire INCREDIBLES crew – Tony Fucile, Lou Romano, Teddy Newton, Mark Andrews and the countless hundreds others – who have created an amazing cartoon and elevated this art form to new heights. As the credits started rolling, a person yelled out in the theater: “Encore!” I couldn’t agree more.