Monday, November 08, 2004

Not so Incredible

Do Pixar publicists just hand $100 bills out to critics and journalists at screenings? Honestly, if I hear one more person refer to the "geniuses at Pixar," I might throw up.

I don't know if this makes me a heartless prick (which I've been accused of before), but I'm consistently underwhelmed by the Pixar films. I just saw "The Incredibles" with very high hopes after all the reviews and was not impressed. Not to say it sucked or anything. There are a few cool touches in terms of design (all the sets are great and it has a neat 50/60s look to the cities). And I do have to say the voices were very well cast, with actors who fit the characters rather than the biggest celebrities they could find (I'm talking to you, Dreamworks).

Pixar still hasn't figured out how to do closeups of a human being without them looking a little freaky (they all look like they have weird hair plugs like a Barbie doll), however.

But the main thing is the story. I feel the same way I did about "Finding Nemo" and "Toy Story": It's cute, but what's so frikkin special about it? It works very well for kids, but there is nothing particularly appealing to anyone over 12 save for a few mildly clever jokes. The plot is fine but literally every twist in it is utterly predictable. And the attempt at an "adult" theme just doesn't work. Is it supposed to be some kind of social critique that we want to eliminate all differences in ability? That was maybe clever when Kurt Vonnegut wrote it in "Harrison Bergeron" back in the '60s. But it's not clever now and certainly isn't accurate. America is a country that venerates its heroes and loves to look up to celebrities, whether they're actually heroic or not. If we had real superheroes, we certainly wouldn't sue them and make them pretend to be power-less.

That's not meant as a slam -- "The Incredibles" is fine for what it is. But I just don't understand the acclaim. I mean, a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes? That's higher than the brilliant Ray, for God's sake. And talk of a Best Picture Oscar? That's a bit disturbing. Let's all get some perspective here folks. It's a competent kids' movie. Nothing more.

(Side note: I saw it at the El Capitan, a theater in the heart of the tourist district in Hollywood owned by Disney. First we had to pay $15, which is an outrageous price if you're not getting a luxurious theater like the Arclight. Then we had to sit through a truly unbearable 15 minute stage show with dancing Disney characters and grinning actors who I wanted to shoot to put out of their misery. I'm sure the 5-and-under crowd digged it, but since we were seeing a 10 PM show, I feel like they could have cut it for the sake of the 90% adult audience.)

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