How much do we have to beat this "superheroes" schtick to death before Hollywood begins to realize that audiences are sick of it? If casting Ben Affleck as "Daredevil" didn't send a clear signal that the genre has finally jumped the shark, I don't know that anything can. Apparently, however, the boy geniuses at Pixar didn't get the memo, and thus we're forced to endure "The Incredibles."
Thankfully, Affleck plays no part in Pixar's new animated feature, but that doesn't mean it isn't mining derivative sludge. The story follows a family of superheroes during a time when superheroes are less popular than John Kerry at a snake-handling ceremony, so Mr. Incredible and his family are in something similar to witness protection to keep them out of sight and away from lawsuits that are crippling the government. Essentially, Mr. Incredible is retired.
Mr. Incredible (voice of Craig T. Nelson) is sort of like a Superman who can't fly. He's really strong and can make a pretty good leap, but that's about it. His wife, Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), can stretch. It's not exactly clear what her limitations are, but her skills are a cross between those of Spiderman and a very rubbery Transformer. Their kids are Dash and Violet. Dash is like The Flash, except he's an obnoxious kid with superhuman powers to annoy. Violet can disappear and also create force fields. I'm not sure what invisibility and force fields have in common, but I think they threw in the force field when they needed a way for a teenage girl to save herself from being crushed. There's also Mr. Incredible's buddy, Frozone (Samuel T. Jackson), who's an insulting combination of The Silver Surfer and The Token Black Guy.
The villain who brings Mr. Incredible out of retirement is Syndrome (Jason Lee), a whiny brat who used to idolize Mr. Incredible, but is now trying to become a superhero by virtue of his inventions. He's like every James Bond bad guy wrapped into one. His main invention? A large metal ball with a computer brain and legs that looks suspiciously like a robotic version of Doc Ock from "Spiderman 2."
Director Brad ("The Iron Giant") Bird has made a film that's Pixar's most adult release to date. It's rated PG. People die. To add to the fun, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl have a relentless series of very dull conversations about adult issues such as work and family -- not exactly attention-grabbers for the "under 5" crowd. During the long stretches when something isn't getting blown up, some cute animal isn't explaining the meaning of life, or some superhero isn't flying, running, stretching or surfing across the screen, you'll find that the only action is in the middle of audience, in the middle of the burgeoning kiddie riot.
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