Chris Mitchell on the abomination that is Pixar’s latest
The Incredibles. No no no. Sick and wrong. Until now, digital animation had been synonymous not so much with great computer generated cartoons as great scripts – Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, A Shark’s Tale and, leading them all, Shrek – which not only broke the mould but pushed the envelope with their CGI techniques but also with the intelligence that got poured into what drove the action. Satire, irreverence, adult themes happily coded to let the kids enjoy the movie proper – they were all there and made each film a real pleasure to watch – that same fuzzy feeling of being in the presence of greatness that you get watching The Simpsons, writ large on the cinema screen. But the latest offering from Pixar has destroyed the magic.
The Incredibles wipes out all digital animation’s collective credibility with a plot that’s seemingly lifted from a daytime American sitcom. You expect me to be amused by whining American teenagers coming to terms with puberty? For fuck’s sake. The Incredibles reeks of a scriptwriting team who bent over and got spiritually sodomised by marketing executives demanding something more “wholesome”. And then thanked them whilst picking up dollars off the floor. Instead of wit, we get shit – awful no-jokes without any fire to them, head-clutchingly asinine “role-model” dialogue, (the desire to fit in and “be like everyone else”? Kill me now), a brat twat supervillain who not even vaguely scary – you just want to beat him to death with a spoon to make it last longer, and an infuriatingly smug-cum-bickering married couple providing a relentlessly on-message and humour-free vacuum in the middle of it all.
There are glimmers of what The Incredibles could have been throughout the film: the advanced years Magenta De Vine lookalike fashion designer who is the only character with any real character ; and every scene with Samuel L. Jackson’s take on Mr Freeze, the majority of which seem to have been excised for fear of being too, y’know, black. (It smacks of the odiously deranged Kevin Costner chopping as much of Alan Rickman as he could from Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, because Rickman effortlessly upstaged and amused in every moment of that otherwise godawful film in which he appeared). To see these flashes of brilliance makes the crapness of The Incredibles even harder to stomach – someone, somewhere, whored themselves to the greater Market Share good.
This seems like a film – who’s initial premise is promising, sub-Watchmen even – which got hijacked by focus groups and feasibility studies and market popularity segment matches while it was being made. And everyone still says it’s a great film because it’s digital animation and digital animation is cool. But not anymore.
The Incredibles has now opened the floodgates for Pixar and everyone else to start churning out a tsunami of CGI-driven mediocrity. And yes, it really fucks me off, because before now going to see a digital animation film was an event, because you knew as much effort and envelope-pushing would have gone into the script as the images. That avenue of pleasure has been closed off to me now. Just as every Disney cinematic cartoon was an event and eventually got hijacked into branding exercises to pass off god-awful shit like Brother Bear, so that process has begun with The Incredibles. Digital animation has just pissed on its chips, bigstyle.