Yes, but which bits aren’t Incredible?

There’s definitely something wrong with me. No matter how dazzlingly good I found The Incredibles to be, what’s left in my memory are the things that I reckon are flaws. And it’s hardly the film’s fault, because there’s nothing that doesn’t have flaws. It’s me. I measure things backwards from perfection. Or, rather, my own whiningly arrogant and hardly objective idea of what perfection would be. Start with an A+, and then start cynically subtracting.

So never mind that the film’s design is a bullseye amalgam of Ken Adam, Frank Lloyd Wright, and a kind of hyper-suburban ’50s America. What I’m left with is a feeling that the pitch-perfect humdrumness of the alter-ego lives, and the equally pitch-perfect showy grandiosity of the evil baddie’s island lair, are then reverse-trumped by the blandness of the cityscape which serves as the setting for the climactic battle. The design goes from stylised small to stylised huge, but then to an underdesigned rectilinear emptiness. Just when the story should get vast, it gets small again.

Never mind that most of the character design is delicious: Mirage drips with Veronica Lake vamp; Gilbert Huph is Droopy in dead-end middle-management. What I remember is that, halfway through the film, Edna Mode storms away with things so completely that the rest of the film is an exercise in waiting in vain for her to return. She leaves a small Edna-shaped hole, just as Anthony Hopkins’s barnstorming Hannibal Lector leaves a big hole in the second half of The Silence of the Lambs.

And never mind that there’s plot, action and reversal of fortune enough to give Aristotle the heebie-jeebies, the final battle — essentially a retread of a foreshadowing battle we’ve already seen — just isn’t big enough or fraught enough. Not nearly enough is at stake, nor do we worry enough about the outcome. It’s like a controlled bonding exercise for the newly restored and newly Incredible family, when it should be about Saving The World Against Impossible Odds.

So don’t mind me. Technically it’s breathtaking, and a big step up in scope and ambition for Pixar. They’re way ahead of anyone else in the field. You’ll have a wonderful time. I had a wonderful time.

In fact, it’s perfect. Almost.

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