Sunday, November 7

The Christian Dad's Movie Review:
The Incredibles

I've come to realize that these movie reviews could be sort of abstracted as some sort of "Christian Dad's Movie Review". This seems to me an aesthetic for judging movie as art that doesn't get much coverage.

At any rate, The Incredibles is a Pixar/Disney computer animated film about Mr Incredible and his family. To cut to the chase, in case you don't want to read the whole post, here's the summary of my findings:
Ultimately The Incredibles, although the message and plotting are secular in nature, contains little objectionable to the Christian viewer. In fact, my two little ones came out of this movie enthused and animated by the action and story like few movies we have ever seen. It truly connected with them where they live. I highly recommend it. It should be enjoyable for young and old alike.

Capsule Synopsis: Mr Incredible is a nice regular sort of super-hero. He has great strength and a great heart. He gets married to Elasta-Girl, another person of the super genus. Shortly after their marriage, super heroes are asked by the government to step down from their super roles and assume normal lives. The story then jumps to the present. Mr Incredible is still a nice guy but he hates his job. His wife is struggling to raise the family and their three (super) kids are having difficulty fitting in. Mr Incredible gets involved with an offer to resume his (secret) super life on the sly. He deceives his wife as to what he is doing to avoid conflict with her. This new opportunity turns out to be motivated (of course) by the "bad guy". In the conflict with the bad guy, Mr Incredible's entire super family is pulled into the fray. He reconciles himself with his wife quickly and the team of (now 4) super-heroes combine to resume their efforts against the villain. Ultimately they are (of course) victorious and even the government begins reconsidering its position re its super citizens.

The main thrust of the movie is about the conflict Mr Incredible feels in being forced by society to be ordinary. This pressure tears at his esteem and the strain is felt by all his family. This is reprised in current society wherein the exceptional are often discouraged (certainly by their peers) from rising above. Did not de Tocqueville warn that we might be cutting down giants among us in our society so they do not rise above the herd. Also, in a surprising positive choice by the filmakers, the family settings resonate with an earlier era. More like early 60's sitcom and TV families than today's fractured family portrayals. One reason is because no "modern" family experiments are presented. The older sister is worried that their parent's conflicts might lead to divorce, but in fact, the audience clearly understands that these two parents truly care for each other and for their children.

Mr Incredible is a hero who, in some very odd sense, has been asked by society to set aside his heroism. Unlike Achilles for example, whose parents guide him into hiding so he could live a long un-heroic life instead of a short glorious career, Mr Incredible has no such prophecy binding him to a short life if he chooses the heroic role. His choice however revolves around denying his own greatness in order to have a normal family life in society. This story is not about what makes a hero so different from the rest of us, but what occurs when a hero is asked to try to be the same as us. Mr Incredible submits as best he can, but not always gracefully, for who can deny their nature. The whole secret identity thing, standard fare in the comic book/super-hero genre, denies the consequences of accepting heroism as your role. The Incredibles proposes that denying your role as a hero does great harm to your soul. As echoed in the Peter Parker/Spiderman genre, "with great power, comes great responsibility". The Incredibles teaches us that these responsibilities are ignored at great peril.

It is interesting that the forces that drove all the super-heroes into hiding are the bugbear of our real world, the trial lawyers. That theme may resound in the near term as Mr Bush has promised to push for tort reform. I for my part, welcome any forces that would help that enterprise.