The Incredibles

I emerged from the theatre cheering after seeing The Incredibles for the first time.   I loved it.  It was the most openly fun I’d had during a Pixar film thus far and it remains one of my personal favorites.  It’s always a joy to watch and when I think of Pixar, this is one of the first ones that springs to the forefront of my mind.

However, with this rewatch, I found it surprisingly difficult to articulate why I enjoy it so much.  What is it, exactly, that makes The Incredibles so . . .  well . . . incredible?

From the jump, story and tone strike just the right balance between quiet, wild, imaginative, witty, sweet, and speculative. I could break down elaborate, nitty-gritty examples of why this movie is so effective (Michael Giacchino‘s score, the style and art direction, homage v. originality, etc.) but, truthfully?  This film demonstrates an unusually solid example of “movie magic”; when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (for me, at least).   A lot of that comes down to the team behind it; if Pete Docter is my favorite Pixar director, then Brad Bird comes in at a very close second.  I’ve been a fan of his style since I first saw The Iron Giant (oh, how I love that film, too).  In Bird’s films, I most appreciate the dialogue, pace, and – like with Docter – the ambition.  There are blurred moral lines here.  We may not sympathize with the villains, but we understand them.  While their decisions and reactions to their circumstances may be wrong, the points they make are very often sound. 

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Monsters, Inc.

*Contains Spoilers*

Pete Docter may be my favorite of the Pixar directors.  He helmed some of my favorite of the studio’s stable: Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out.  Watching Monsters, Inc., I am reminded how much worldbuilding it requires, right from the jump.   I would argue that it remains one of Pixar’s most imaginative movies to date.  It does not take place in our world – let alone a bedroom or sunny backyard – but rather delves into a parallel dimension, populated by wildly outlandish characters.  The characters dip into our world frequently, but the landscape virtually encompasses the entire globe.  That is an immense undertaking, and a huge risk.  That said, Pixar’s success with its first three films laid the groundwork for them being able to present something so “out-there,” and, thus, continue with even more radical ideas in the future.  After all, Pixar was launched on a wild, unprecedented venture, so it’s not exactly surprising.

What was surprising, however – apart from the dynamic worldbuilding and physical comedy (we’ll come back to that) – was the depth of the movie’s theme.  Of course, at four films into the studio’s collection, depicting deep themes was clearly their M.O., weaving these subjects delicately so it reaches audiences emotionally,  regardless of age, but not coming off as preachy.   And, like with A Bug’s Life, the message struck me a lot harder and a lot more powerfully as an adult.   As Sully summarizes during the film’s conclusion:

“…laughter is ten times more powerful than screams…”

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Watch-It Wednesdays

For the past several years, a highlight of my week is what my friends and I call “Watch-It Wednesdays.”  The name has changed a few times (i.e. “Marathon Mondays”) but the idea has stayed the same; myself and a group of friends gather together to watch a movie (or a couple episodes of a television series).  Considering how busy our lives get, this weekly staple provides a chance to stay connected with friends and partake in some good old-fashioned fun.  Call it an exercise in self-care.  This also has brought some remarkable new titles into my life; most recently, the anime film, your name.  Though I’m super late to that bandwagon, I’ll probably have to write a post about that pretty soon.  It was well worth the hype!

In any event, I’m going to start blogging about the films we watch each week.  We’ve gone through quite  a few themes and collections (Doctor Who, Veronica Mars, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Firefly…) but now we’re beginning the journey through the films of Pixar Animation Studios, moving chronologically.  So, last week we began with Toy Story and this week we watched A Bug’s Life.  In both cases, it’s remarkable how well the story, characters, and animation hold up…and I shall elaborate in the separate reviews to come.

First up: A Bug’s Life!