The plot of "The Incredibles" starts with some surprising social criticism. After saving a man trying to commit suicide, the film's lead superhero, Mr. Incredible, is sued by the man, who didn't want to be saved. That suit is followed by a tangle of torts that causes the entire cavalcade of caped crime-fighters to enter a secret federal Superhero Relocation Program.
Demoted to the prototypical unspectacular job of insurance agent, Mr. Incredible (now known as "Bob Parr") gripes that "They keep inventing new ways to celebrate mediocrity." He's hiding away with his wife Helen (formerly the stretchy heroine Elastigirl). His son Dash, blessed with super speed, is banned from competing in school sports, lest he betray the family secret. "Dad says our powers make us special," he protests. "Everyone is special, Dash," his mother replies. "Which is another way of saying no one is," Dash complains.
If that sounds like some Ayn Rand capitalist fable of the mediocre punishing the talented, there is always the offsetting fun the filmmakers have with Bob's insurance work. While Bob's oily supervisor wants every insurance claim rejected for the health of the company bottom line, heroic Bob can't help but whisper to his customers every tactic to circumvent company bureaucracy to ease their pain and suffering. This ends badly, with Bob losing his temper and tossing the boss through several walls, something even superheroes succumb to when their patience is taxed.
Bob loses his job, of course, and to make up for the lost income, he is recruited into secret superhero work with a slinky mystery woman named Mirage. (That's where the worries about the Parr marriage creep in.) What happens next draws the entire Incredible family -- father, mother, the son Dash, and the invisibility-powered teenage daughter Violet -- into a titanic superhero struggle with a super-villain, replete with a morality play of good versus evil.
Too often, we know what to expect from Hollywood, and we get it, in all its sensation-seeking, nihilistic glory. But it's a nice departure when someone in the entertainment world can dazzle us with a movie that everyone in the family can savor and enjoy. In fact, it's incredible.
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