Thursday, November 22, 2007

the incredibles

The big Thanksgiving match-up: super-puritans v the drunken mob
The tussle between America's hooligan culture and the pompous forces of restraint during the holiday season is as old as the nation itself
Steven WellsNovember 22, 2007 1:05 PM
Thanksgiving is a rum bugger. The author (and voice of Violet in The Incredibles) Sarah Vowell says the curious habit of going home to the parents you fled from in order to celebrate the American genius for starting over and making a fresh start, is a little like "celebrating independence day by playing cricket and nibbling crumpets".

Which would be funny were it not for the fact - well known by sport historians - that Americans should be playing cricket on the fourth of July, because without cricket there'd be no United States of America. And on Thanksgiving, of course, they should watch soccer - just as the pilgrim fathers did. But more of that later.

Like the freakish British at the peak of their extremely strange Victorian pomp, modern imperial America thinks itself incredibly normal and regards all foreigners as way odd. Thus the nation that makes heroes of 11-year-old children who shoot thousand pound "Hogzilla" Monster Pigs with handguns, where they put melted marshmallow on mashed sweet potatoes, where they tie brightly coloured balloons to soldiers' gravestones on memorial day and where - if you can afford it - you can legally ride around in a souped-up 80mph mini-tank taking potshots at Bambi with an awesome 300-rounds-per-minute fully automatic shotgun, routinely makes fun of cricket, the Japanese and the fact the French get holidays.

And then there's Thanksgiving, where Americans gather in family groups and eat turkey (and the aforementioned marshmallow-covered mashed yams) thereby suffering all the suicides, divorces, depression and murders that family celebrations invariably bring. More amazingly, just over a month later, they do it all again. And no one thinks it at all odd or strange. Or about what horrible damage this double-Christmas does to the fabric of American society.

Over the years Americans have developed ways of making Thanksgiving different from Christmas - primarily by not eating turkey at Christmas and by watching American football on Thanksgiving.

This is an historical travesty. The Native Americans who saved the Pilgrims from starvation (probably the worst-rewarded act of charity in human history) were English speaking soccer hooligans who - the Pilgrims reported - played a rowdy feet-only football game that owed a lot more to modern soccer than it did to gridiron.

But the real sports-crime is not that soccer has been edged out of Thanksgiving in favour of its ugly, bumping, stop-start travesty of a steroid-swollen, mutant cousin, but that we associate Thanksgiving with sport at all.

The Pilgrims were, after all, super-puritans - kicked out of not one but two god-fearing European countries for being too pompous, boring and preachy even for their fellow puritans.

These were the same people, let us not forget, who invented the ducking stool and the scold's bridle and who proscribed the tomato lest it inflame licentiousness in the breast of the godly. When in power they banned Christmas, singing, plays, mince pies, whistling and (my favourites) "idly sitting in doorways" and "vainly or profanely walking". They also hated sports, banning pretty much everything including stoolball (the primitive ancestor of baseball) and "leaping".

Just how much fun sports were in Merrie Ole Ingerland before the puritans took over can be gauged by the revivalist festival of frolicsome fun that was the Cotswold Olimpicks, founded around 1604 by chucklesome sports fop Robert Dover.

Olimpick sports included cudgelplaying, running at the quintain, shin kicking and nearly-naked lady racing. This strain of riotous, transgressive, carnivalesque and probably drunken revelry can be seen in modern American sports - as can its old enemy, the same neo-puritanism that causes born-again Christians to sneak into libraries to marker-pen out the naughty bits in art books.

These yobbish sports cavaliers and their sheet-sniffing roundhead foes are engaged in a never-ending battle for the American sports soul. Recently both sides were on display in a New York Times article which sniffily described - and you'd perhaps best sit down before reading on - American football fans demanding that women expose their breasts. (Apparently it happens quite a lot.)

America, of course, has a massive and massively under-reported sports hooligan culture. At a recent "Phiting" Phillies baseball game, an innings-long ruck broke out in the stands. This is not terribly unusual. As Sports Illustrated put it: "Everyone (has) at one time or another, experienced the bellowing of obscenities, racial or religious epithets ... abusive sexual remarks to women ... fistfights between strangers and fistfights between friends."

And while all the evidence - anecdotal, physical and statistical - suggests such naughtiness is widespread and commonplace at all levels (and always has been) - America remains in total denial about its rude, vibrant and pervasive hooligan culture.

And then, on the other, frigid, hand, we have the neo-puritans. Like the finger-sniffing fundamentalist idiots who orchestrated a mass protest when Janet Jackson flashed a carefully covered-up nipple for a nano-second at half time during the orgy of savagely violent homoerotic bad taste Americans call the Superbowl.

This Thanksgiving all over America, the pissed-up, beer throwing, tit-crazed and bellicose descendants of Robert Dover will duke it out with the neo-puritans for the soul of American sports - same as they've been doing every year since a slightly tipsy MakePeace Thackary took a swing at the somewhat priggish Nathaniel Willbegoode while in the crowd watching that very first Thanksgiving soccer match back in 1621.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers. Wherever you are.
Tonight's TV best bets
More television
For the latest television news and to read Remote Access - our staff's thoughts on all your favorite shows - click here:

Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, 9 a.m. to noon, NBC and CBS. The bands are real, the singers are fake, the Santa is ... well, as real as he gets. It adds up to an odd but fun morning. Nine high school bands perform, along with one from the University of Oklahoma, marking that state's centennial. Also there will be the Highty Tighties, the high-energy band from Virginia Tech. Stars will also perform - or lip-synch. NBC lists Dolly Parton, Michael Feinstein and Sarah Brightman, plus Jordin Sparks and many others with youth appeal - the Jonas Brothers, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu and Menudo; CBS adds Trisha Yearwood and Rascal Flatts. There will also be Broadway shows and, finally, Santa.

"March of the Penguins" (2005), 7 p.m., Animal Planet; 9 p.m., Discovery Channel. Here's a new twist for holiday family viewing. This documentary has warmth, humor, tragedy and the rumbling beauty of Morgan Freeman's narration.

"Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends," 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and 8-9 p.m., Cartoon Network. This might keep the kids from demanding dinner now.

"Til Death Do Us Part," 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Court TV. These stories get repetitive - a marriage crumbles, one person is killed, the other arrested. Still, they're filmed with style and with John Waters as host.

Football, 12:30 p.m., Fox, and 4 p.m., CBS. It's the Green Bay Packers at the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets at the Dallas Cowboys. Except for the Jets all have had hot years.

"The Incredibles" (2004), 8 p.m., NBC. Comedy and action combine in this animated Pixar film about a family of crime-fighting superheroes.

"Ugly Betty," 8 p.m., ABC. The magazine must be re-created instantly. That includes getting a star (Eliza Dushku) out of rehab for the cover photo.

"Grey's Anatomy," 9 p.m., ABC. Meredith

Who Do You Think You Are?: 7:30 p.m., CBC. Newfoundland comedian Mary Walsh hosts this program, which follows Canadian celebrities as they trace their roots.


The Incredibles (2004): 8 p.m., NBC. Comedy and action combine in this animated Pixar film about a family of crime-fighting superheroes.

The Nature of Things: 8 p.m., CBC. It studies how three Canadian cities are planning for the consequences of climate change. Cameras go to Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax to assess preparations for floods, air pollution, extreme heat, severe storms, new diseases and energy blackouts.

Ugly Betty: 8 p.m., Citytv, ABC. The magazine must be re-created instantly. That includes getting a star (Eliza Dushku) out of rehab for the cover photo.

Grey's Anatomy: 9 p.m., CTV, ABC. Meredith and the chief rush to save paramedics who were injured in a crash. This two-parter stars Seth Green.

Secret Diary of a Call Girl: 10 p.m., Showcase. Making its Canadian premiere tonight, this half-hour British comedy series is an adaptation of the real-life diaries of a high-class escort.
The Incredibles
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The Incredibles

Directed by Brad Bird
Produced by John Walker
Written by Brad Bird
Starring Craig T. Nelson
Holly Hunter
Sarah Vowell
Spencer Fox
Jason Lee
Brad Bird
Samuel L. Jackson
Elizabeth Peña
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography Andrew Jimenez
Patrick Lin
Janet Lucroy
Editing by Stephen Schaffer
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release date(s) November 5, 2004
Running time 115 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $92 million
Gross revenue Domestic:
Worldwide: $631,442,092
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile
The Incredibles is a 2004 American Academy Award-winning computer-animated feature film produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures, centering around a family of superheroes. It was written and directed by Brad Bird, a former director of The Simpsons previously best known for directing the 1999 animated movie The Iron Giant. The Incredibles was originally developed as a traditionally-animated movie for Warner Bros., but after Warner shut down its animation division, Bird moved to Pixar and took the story with him.

The Incredibles is Pixar's sixth feature film. It was presented by Walt Disney Pictures and released by Buena Vista Distribution in North America on November 5, 2004, and in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland on November 26 of the same year and in Japan, February 2, 2005. It is the first Pixar movie to be rated PG by the MPAA and the first to feature an entirely human cast of characters. It was released in a two-disc DVD in the U.S. on March 15, 2005. According to the Internet Movie Database, it was the highest-selling DVD of 2005, with 17.18 million copies sold.

1 Plot
2 Voice cast
3 Reaction
4 DVD extras
5 Merchandising
6 Goofs
7 Trivia
8 Video games
9 Awards
10 Associated short films
11 Trailers
12 References to other Comics and Super Heroes
13 See also
14 Notes and references
15 External links

[edit] Plot
The film is set, according to Bird on the DVD's supplemental material, in an alternate universe that prominently features car body styles, architecture and electronics from the 1960s. After a train rescue that left a hundred people injured, a series of lawsuits has forced superheroes, known as "Supers," into a government-sponsored witness protection program in exchange for a promise to stop all superhero work.

Fifteen years later, two superheroes, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) have married and settled into relatively normal lives. Now known as Bob and Helen Parr, they have a house in the suburbs and are raising three kids, Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dashiell ("Dash") (Spencer Fox) and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile). Violet and Dash each have superpowers like their parents, while it seems as if Jack-Jack is a normal baby without powers.

Bob is frustrated with the drudgery of his job as a claims adjuster for a corrupt insurance company called Insuricare and secretly helps deserving clients to find loopholes to get their payments. He dreams of returning back to his glory days of superheroism, going so far as to moonlight as a crimefighter by listening to a police scanner with his friend Lucius - another former super called Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson). When Helen finds out, it causes an argument. Bob hates having to hide their gifts, and wants to return to the heroics of the old days, while Helen is concerned about keeping the family together and not having to start over again by going into hiding in a brand new location.

Eventually Mr. Huph (Wallace Shawn), Bob's miserly boss, suspects Bob is helping clients and reprimands him. During the lecture, Bob notices a person being mugged in the street. Mr. Huph stops Bob from going to the victim's aid, threatening to fire him, and the mugger escapes. Bob is furious, and when Huph smugly begins lecturing again, Bob grabs him by the neck and hurls him through several office walls. Huph is hospitalized and Bob is fired.

While Bob is trying to figure out how to tell Helen, Mirage (Elizabeth Peña), a mysterious agent, contacts him and offers highly-paid work: subduing a renegade robot, the Omnidroid 9000, on Nomanisan, an uncharted volcanic island. Bob takes the assignment, hiding both the loss of his job and the renewal of hero work from Helen. Bob defeats the Omnidroid from the inside, damaging his supersuit slightly from the battle, and becomes much happier. When he takes his suit to its designer, flamboyant Edna Mode (Brad Bird), for repair, she creates for him a brand-new suit; she is adamant about only one detail: "No capes!" She points out how several super heroes met untimely deaths because their capes were snagged on takeoff, sucked into jet turbines (Stratogale), snags on missile fins (Thunderhead), express elevator trouble (Meta-Man), sucked into vortexes (Splashdown) and snags on takeoff (Dynaguy) and many more. Unbeknownst to him, she also creates suits for his entire family.

Two months later, Mirage calls Bob with a new assignment. Helen overhears the call, but does not realize its full implications or content. When Bob returns to the island, he is ambushed and defeated by an improved version of the Omnidroid prototype robot. He is held captive there by Syndrome (Jason Lee), once a young fan named Buddy Pine. Buddy once wanted to be Mr. Incredible's sidekick, but was harshly rejected "learning an important lesson: you can't count on anyone, especially your heroes". Embittered, he made a fortune in high-tech weapons technology. He then invented the Omnidroid, a robot designed to kill supers. Bob manages to escape from Syndrome and discovers that Syndrome has killed many of his superhero friends in the process of developing the Omnidroid, and is now planning on unleashing the robot into the city of Metroville where it will cause mass destruction, with only Syndrome able to stop it.

Back at home, Helen notices that Bob's old super suit has recently been repaired. She visits Edna and learns that he has resumed superhero work. With a call to Insuracare she also realizes that Bob is no longer employed. Edna has also created super suits for Helen and the children, and advises her to take control of the situation.

Helen activates the homing device Edna built into Bob's super suit, which reveals his location to both her and Syndrome (who recaptures him). She heads for the island in a jet plane, on which Violet and Dash have stowed away, after leaving Jack-Jack at home with a babysitter. Syndrome, meanwhile, tortures Bob for information and launches a missile attack against Helen's airplane. Helen and the kids manage to escape unharmed, and swim to the island, though everyone on the island believes they are killed. Bob grabs Mirage and threatens to kill her unless Syndrome frees him; Syndrome calls this bluff, and Bob releases her unharmed, remaining Syndrome's prisoner.

While Helen infiltrates Syndrome's base, the new and improved Omnidroid 10000 is launched on a rocket towards its target, Metroville. In Syndrome's base, a grateful Mirage secretly frees Bob just before Helen arrives. The two superheroes rush to find their children, who are fighting off Syndrome's henchmen. A battle ensues, wherein the family cooperates to defeat their attackers. However, Syndrome arrives and captures the Incredibles using his zero-point energy fields. Syndrome then explains his plan: to save Metroville from his own Omnidroid and thereby become a hero. He then leaves the Incredibles in an energy prison. Violet's force fields allow them to escape, however. With Mirage's help they depart for the mainland after Syndrome.

In Metroville, Syndrome attempts to stop the Omnidroid's destructive rampage, but the robot figures out the nature of his remote control and knocks him unconscious. The Incredibles and Frozone fight the robot. Together, they are able to get the Omnidroid to disable itself. The town applauds them for their achievements; the possibility of superheroes coming out of hiding is mentioned and for the government to "let the politicians figure it out". Syndrome wakes up to find that the Incredibles have stolen his glory.

The Incredibles return home to find that Syndrome is kidnapping Jack-Jack. As Syndrome attempts to fly up to his jet using his rocket boots, Jack-Jack suddenly reveals his super powers by transforming into fire, metal, and then an imp-like monster. Syndrome drops Jack-Jack, who is caught by Helen, and attempts to flee. Bob hurls the family car into the jet; Syndrome is knocked into the turbine and is killed when his cape is caught in the engine and pulls him in -- just as Edna might have warned him. Violet then protects the family from the raining flames and debris as the jet explodes, much to the amazement of their young neighbor, who responds with the words "That was totally WICKED!!".

Three months later, the family is much happier; even Bob is content with their civilian life. Dash is running in a track meet; he carefully controls his use of super-speed and finishes in second place. Violet, who formerly felt alienated to the point of using her hair to hide her face, is found with her hair pulled back and successfully asking her friend Tony for a date to the movies, with Tony getting nervous instead of Violet. As they walk out of the sports complex, a new villain, The Underminer (John Ratzenberger), rises from the ground and declares "war on peace and happiness." The family members, including Jack-Jack, put on superhero masks and prepare to fight. The outcome of the fight is open ended.

[edit] Voice cast
Actor Role
Craig T. Nelson Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible
Holly Hunter Helen Parr / Elastigirl
Sarah Vowell Violet "Vi" Parr
Spencer Fox Dashiell Robert "Dash" Parr
Jason Lee Buddy Pine / Incrediboy / Syndrome
Brad Bird Edna "E" Mode
Samuel L. Jackson Lucius Best / Frozone
Elizabeth Peña Mirage

[edit] Reaction
Critical response to The Incredibles was overwhelmingly positive, receiving a 97% "Certified Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.[1] Critic Roger Ebert awarded the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, writing that the film "alternates breakneck action with satire of suburban sitcom life" and is "another example of Pixar's mastery of popular animation."

Some negative criticism was directed towards the film's violence, which suggested that the "Incredibles" are free to arbitrarily punch criminals and enemy troops to render them unconscious and injured, even when those criminals or troops are disarmed and pose no threat; indeed, the film is much more violent than any previous Pixar film and the first to receive a PG rating from the MPAA. Eleanor Ringel Gillespie of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that "the Pixar whizzes do what they do excellently; you just wish they were doing something else."[2] Similarly, Jessica Winter of the Village Voice criticized the film for playing as a standard summer action film, despite being released in early November. Her review, titled as "Full Metal Racket," noted that "The Incredibles announces the studio's arrival in the vast yet overcrowded Hollywood lot of eardrum-bashing, metal-crunching action sludge."[3]

Following concerns that the film would receive underwhelming results,[4] the film grossed $70,467,623 in its opening weekend, the highest opening weekend gross for a Pixar film, just barely beating Finding Nemo's opening weekend take of $70,251,710.[5][6] The film ultimately grossed $261,441,092, the second-highest gross for a Pixar film (behind Finding Nemo) and the fifth-highest grossing film of 2004.[7] Worldwide, the film grossed $631,436,092, ranking fourth for the year.[8]

[edit] DVD extras
The Incredibles two-disc Collector's Edition DVD set was released on March 15, 2005. Two versions of the set are available: one widescreen and the other full screen (this is unlike releases for other Pixar films, which often contained both versions in one set). Like many other DVD releases, there are various extra features available on the two discs including:

Introduction, an introduction for the extras featuring Brad Bird
Deleted Scenes, the films deleted scenes plus an intro for all of them
Jack-Jack Attack, a Pixar short film made especially for the release of The Incredibles about what happened while Kari was babysitting Jack-Jack
The Making of The Incredibles, a documentary about making The Incredibles featuring about 30 of the crew members
More Making of The Incredibles, another longer documentary also about making The Incredibles
Incredi-Blunders, The Incredibles outtakes
Vowellet: An Essay by Sarah Vowell, a documentary about the life of Sarah Vowell, a writer who did the voice of Violet Parr
Character Interviews, actor and actresses interview the characters
Theatrical Trailer, The Incredibles film trailer
Mr. Incredible and Pals, a Mr. Incredible cartoon spoofing cheesy superhero cartoons from the 1960's, as well as Synchro-Vox cartoons like Clutch Cargo
Mr. Incredible and Pals With Commentary, the cartoon with the characters' commentary
NSA Files, info about the supers
Boundin', a Pixar short film directed by Bud Luckey
Boundin' With Commentary, Boundin' with commentary by Bud Luckey
Who Is Bud Luckey? a four-minute documentary about the making of Boundin'

[edit] Merchandising
Several companies released promotional products related to the movie. Dark Horse Comics released a limited series of comic books based on the movie. Kellogg's released an Incredibles-themed cereal, as well as promotional Pop Tarts and fruit snacks, all proclaiming an "Incrediberry Blast" of flavor. Furthermore, in the weeks before the movie's opening, there were also promotional tie-ins with SBC Communications (using Dash to promote the "blazing-fast speed" of its SBC Yahoo! DSL service) and McDonald's. Toy maker Hasbro produced a series of series of action figures and toys based on the film, although the line was not as successful as the film itself.

In Europe, Kinder chocolate eggs contained small plastic toy characters.

In Mexico, there has been a craze about the movie, literally hundreds of items are being sold there, with several of them being exclusive to Mexico. Already many stores around the country have been reporting being completely sold out of certain popular items.

In Belgium, car manufacturer Opel sold special The Incredibles editions of their cars.

In the United Kingdom, Telewest promoted blueyonder internet services with branding from the film, including television adverts starring characters from the film.

In all merchandising outside of the film itself, Elastigirl is referred to as Mrs. Incredible. This is due to a licensing agreement between Disney/Pixar and DC Comics, who has a character named Elasti-Girl (a member of the Doom Patrol). The DC Comics character is able to grow and shrink at will from microscopic size to thousands of feet tall.

[edit] Goofs
When Mr. Incredible crashes into the building trying to save a man, his shadow disappears.
While the family eats dinner at the table, the food keeps changing position. The commentators of the DVD discuss this during the featured scene for being to hard to keep track of each food.
The part in Violet's hair switches sides several times. (This was a deliberate "mistake" by the filmmakers - hair was so difficult to animate, that to save time and expense, they switched the part in Violet's hair to show her face when needed.)
When Helen Parr is talking on the phone to Edna, although Helen's shadow appears on the wall behind her, the phone and phone cord have no shadows.
When Syndrome reminds Mr. Incredible about his line "I work alone," he is not holding Bomb Voyage in the flashback scene as he did in the original scene (this could, however, be explained as Syndrome's distorted perspective of the event).

[edit] Trivia
Cameo: Doc Hudson from Cars can be seen parked on the street to the left of the screen at the 1:40:27 mark in the film. Although Cars was released after The Incredibles, development of Cars was well under way.
The sequence where, after breaking through an apartment wall into a jewelry store, Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) is kept at gunpoint by a nervous rookie cop ("I just need to get a glass of water.") is a direct homage/parody of a similar sequence in Die Hard with a Vengeance. Even the police officer's facial design is recognizably similar.
Two of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men, Frank Thomas, and Ollie Johnston, voice themselves near the conclusion of the film, commenting about the superheroes that "There's no school like the old school!"

[edit] Video games
Main article: The Incredibles (video games)

[edit] Awards
The film won the Academy Award in 2005 for Best Animated Feature (the second Pixar Animation Studios feature film to do so) as well as Best Achievement in Sound Editing. It also received nominations for Best Original Screenplay (for writer/director Brad Bird) and Best Achievement in Sound, but did not win.

The film was awarded the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

These and other awards place it among the most-honored animation films in recent history. [9]

[edit] Associated short films
The video/DVD release also features an additional short called Jack-Jack Attack, starring one of the film's characters Jack-Jack Parr. It depicts the off-screen details of Kari McKean's "very weird" night caring for the baby.

[edit] Trailers
One Pixar tradition is to create trailers for their films that do not contain footage from the released film. Trailers for this film include:

An out-of-shape Mr. Incredible struggles to get his belt on (hence, none of the Incredible Family members wear a belt in the film, and instead sport elastic waist straps).

[edit] References to other Comics and Super Heroes
The Incredibles takes place in a world which is similar to that of the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel, Watchmen. Such major issues in Watchmen, like the banning of superheroes, a "mask killer" getting rid of superheroes, as well as former superheroes being forced to live "normal" lives, occur in The Incredibles as well.
The Incredibles' powers are similar in nature to those of the members of the Fantastic Four; strength (Ben Grimm - Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible), shapeshifting and elasticity (Reed Richards - Helen Parr / Elastigirl), and invisibility and forcefield generation (Susan Storm - Violet Parr). Dash's powers are the exception: he can move at super speeds (like several other superheroes, most prominently The Flash) , while the fourth member of the Fantastic Four, Johnny Storm, can create heat and flame around his body, and fly when he is flaming. However, Jack-Jack Parr is shown to have these powers late in the movie and in Jack-Jack Attack
Frozone has powers like the Iceman.
The Underminer is similar to the Mole Man.
Syndrome is similar to Doctor Doom/Lex Luthor.


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