So the other day, I found myself watching The Incredibles from Pixar, and I gotta say, after watching it through, doing some research on it, and listening to Brad Bird, the director, I’m really very impressed, and for my money, The Incredibles may have been one of, if not the, most important films that has come out of Pixar.
Up until 2004, Pixar had been a juggernaut. Already with two popular and successful Toy Story movies as well as the wildly successful Finding Nemo, it truly began to feel like Pixar could not miss. A big fear for the chief creative officer at Pixar, John Lasseter, was that the animators and higher ups at Pixar would become complacent with this success.
Enter Brad Bird.
Basically, Bird had been trying to pitch his movie about a family of superheroes for a number of years, before finally, Pixar picked it up. The movie was going to be technically challenging, almost to the point of impossibility, which was what scared most animators and why I think it is so impressive. Through this point, Pixar had not really touched humans, aside from the occasional views of a glassy looking Andy in the Toy Story movies.
Due to this, new systems had to be created in order to achieve making a convincing looking human. Beyond that, there were over 90 different locations and effects ranging from wind weight, and water for animators to contend with.
All of that made for a visually stunning movie, and for my money, one of Pixar’s biggest triumphs. The movie did spectacular at the box office, and the drive to animate humans as well as go for a children’s movie with a complex storyline ended up paying major dividends down the road for Pixar.
The story of The Incredibles is actually really heavy. There’s aspects of how past decisions can affect the future, how people react to their midlife crisis, and even a subtle, albeit strong, look at trust issues within marriage. Pixar’s decision to not just pander to children and give an interesting and mature storyline helped make this movie accessible to all different age ranges, and opened the doors for future features to have emotionally driven mature storylines as well, particularly Up, which was universally acclaimed for its use of emotion.
Without Pixar refusing to rest on its laurels and just continue to make buddy films featuring bugs, toys, monsters, or whatever else they could find, they decided to go big for a technical and theatrical challenge, and it not only paid off in 2004, it is still paying off in 2012.