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In my recent review of Shark Tale I stated "simply throwing 'Pixar' or 'DreamWorks Animation' in front of a film's title is no longer a sure-fire guarantee to get my money". After experiencing The Incredibles, I wish to recant that statement. Or at least modify it to exclude Pixar.

How does a movie studio continue such an unbelievable winning streak of successful filmmaking? In the case of Pixar it's simple. You feature top-notch storytelling that runs the gamut of emotions and you populate your tale with rich, soulful characters. Whereas Shark Tale left me feeling as if I were forced to find a personal connection with repulsive and unappealing characters, The Incredibles presents a funny, spirit-filled story involving a gaggle of likeable individuals with common-man character. In other words, their human congeniality is never masked by their super-human strengths nor by the fact that they are merely cartoon characters.

The story of The Incredibles is centered on Bob Parr (voice of Craig T. Nelson) who, due to lawsuits brought about by the unfortunate collateral damage of performing superhero tasks, is forced to enter the Superhero Protection Program where he toils away in the obscure life of a common everyday insurance salesman. Joining him in seclusion is his wife Helen (voiced by Holly Hunter), their insecure daughter Violet (voiced by NPR essayist Sarah Vowell), their hyperactive adolescent son Dash (voiced by Spencer Fox) and their seemingly normal infant boy, Jack Jack.

Suppressing his superpower urges and working in the dishonest insurance business are apparently too difficult for Bob however. He joins his ol' running buddy Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) once a week for "bowling night" where the pair works the police scanner seizing opportunities to don their superhero suits, just like old times.

Bob is eventually approached to perform a "freelance" superhero job unbeknownst to his domestically content wife. But as Bob falls deeper and deeper into the diabolical scheme of his new employer, he realizes he must eventually call upon the long suppressed superpowers of his own family. Helen will bring her Elastigirl abilities to stretch and squirm her way around, Violet can call upon her invisibility powers to protect the family and Dash's superhuman speed can always deliver them from danger. Now the entire family finds itself caught up in the villain's plans to capture and eliminate all of the world's superheroes.

The first things we notice in The Incredibles are the lush graphics and advanced animation capabilities. With each subsequent release, Pixar seems able to up the ante with regards to technology. It's as if after finishing Finding Nemo, they immediately started developing a new animation technology. The most noticeable upgrades are immediately visible in the characters' hair. Monsters Inc. introduced us to the concept that individual hairs can have their own properties and movements, but in The Incredibles, not only can the hairs have their own movements, but they also collectively look more like hair. Absolutely phenomenal technology!

I must admit that I've grown a bit tired of the overused story that features technologically advanced spy/superhero families that join forces to fight evil (Spy Kids, Thunderbirds, Cody Banks, Catch That Kid), but writer/director Brad Bird manages to inject the concept with a new freshness and delightful creativity that makes The Incredibles one of the best films of 2004. It is an inspiring tale of family love, togetherness and interdependence that utilizes modern technology to create a world that riffs the vintage spy tales and adventure flicks of yesteryear. Despite its unprecedented PG rating for a Pixar film, The Incredibles is not only appropriate for youngsters; it also promises to entertain 6 to 60.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; French; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 Surround; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; director's commentary; deleted scenes; making-of featurette; making-of featurette; alternate opening; new short "Jack Jack Attack;" filmmakers commentary; featurettes on story, design, music, sound, and lighting; Incredi-blunders; trailers; easter eggs.

* Commentaries:
o With director/writer Brad Bird and Producer Jon Walker
o With members of the animation staff.
* Featurettes:
o Intro from director Brad Bird
o Animated short Jack-Jack Attack
o Easter Eggs
o The making of The Incredibles
o More Making of The Incredibles
o Incrediblunders
o Vowelette - Video essay by Sarah Vowell
o Top Secret - vintage Incredibles cartoon
o Boundin' - short cartoon with commentary
+ Who is Bud Luckey - featurette on the creation of Boundin'
* Deleted Scenes:
o Over 30 minutes of deleted scenes
* Still Gallery
* Publicity Material

Number of discs: 2

Packaging: single-width keepcase with a snap-in tray, wrapped in a shiny holographic slipcover.