Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


No capes
March 11, 2005 4:51 AM   Subscribe

No capes, no monoguing, and no ex machina. Brad Bird's 'The Incredibles' notched the clichés of the superhero genre - if not all action/adventure movies - with a thick red marker. These lists have apparently been circulating since 1994. Why do (bad) writers persist in using these plot devices?
posted by vhsiv (85 comments total)

 
via johnaugust.com
posted by vhsiv at 4:55 AM on March 11, 2005


These lists have apparently been circulating since 1994.

Yes, they have. Thanks for bringing them to our attention in so timely a fashion.
posted by biffa at 5:04 AM on March 11, 2005


"Hey, hey, you know what--in film noir, writers have been making their protagonists world-weary private detectives since the 1920s. Therefore, The Maltese Falcon automatically _sucked_. Big Sleep? Crappy, by definition. Who cares if people actually _liked_ it?"
posted by LairBob at 5:21 AM on March 11, 2005


(Whoops...hit wrong button.)

Genres define themselves by convention--the ones you like are hallowed traditions, and the ones you don't are cliches. Just because you apparently don't approve of these details doesn't make any kind of convincing argument about the quality of the movie.
posted by LairBob at 5:24 AM on March 11, 2005


Coming up with new plot devices is hard work. Sort of like checking your URLs.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:26 AM on March 11, 2005


no monoguing

And your spelling.
posted by LairBob at 5:38 AM on March 11, 2005


genre: (spec.) A particular style or category of works of art; characterized by a particular form, style, or purpose.
posted by spock at 5:40 AM on March 11, 2005


(related) It is hard to spoof (or update) a genre without referencing the familiar.
posted by spock at 5:41 AM on March 11, 2005


According to Mikhail Bakhtin, LairBob's comment is true of all genres except the novel. So clearly those who are tired of genre clichés should book it (get it?) to the nearest mega-bookstore.
posted by scrim at 5:50 AM on March 11, 2005


Spell Check. It's a feature!
posted by Plinko at 6:00 AM on March 11, 2005


Mr Bakhtin must not have read a lot of best sellers....

(Or am I missing something?)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:06 AM on March 11, 2005


The Evil Overlord list contains, though, some conventions that are mere plot coupons rather than justifiable conventions. For instance, the villain always reveals the plan to Bond before putting him in "a death machine that doesn't work" (Seinfeld). That sort of cliche' should be avoided.

Also, what classics made fresh is now stale. You can't do everything Orson Welles and Hitchcock did. When they did it it was cool because they were the first. You have to stand on the shoulders of these giants, not bite their ankles.
posted by NickDouglas at 6:22 AM on March 11, 2005


Jesus, because I hate the sight of blood, I would like to point out that, despite the technical errors in vhsiv's first post, the lists he successfully linked to are actually pretty funny.

a favorite: #73 When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say, "No." and shoot him. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No."

Why do (bad) writers persist in using these plot devices?

Ask the easy questions, why don't you? Shit, if we're talking about hollywood, then the reason is, more often than not, "Because some jerk wants a quick buck and told me to write this formulaic crap."

On the other hand, any genre conventions are adhered to often enough because we like them. What can I say? I think capes look awesome on a superhero. I wish they were in style today, frankly. I'd wear one every day while I walked to work, if I thought I could pull it off without getting mugged. Even in The Incredibles, as the tailor rages against them, Mr Incredible peppers her diatribe with phrases like "Yeah, that was a great looking cape, really sharp" etc...

But ultimately, what it really comes down to is that there's only so much realism any scene in any story can have before it suffers from being boring or incomprehensible or both. Take Sci Fi. There's only so much of the future you can see before you need someone to come along and tell you what the hell you're looking at. In comics, we want the hero to overcome overwhelming odds. Well how is he supposed to do that? They're overwhelming! So sometimes he just hides out in a loose pile of hay being brought into the evil fortress because he has to win SOMEHOW.

It's a sign of progress in any genre fiction when we can escape these cliches more and more often, but that only means we're making new ones that someone else will reject in the future.

posted by shmegegge at 6:30 AM on March 11, 2005


I remember seeing on the same day Disney's Tarzan and Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, and I was struck by the fact that while Tarzan used many cliches, Mononoke kept being fresh and surprising. Particularly, almost all characters in Mononoke have respectable reasons for their actions and while they are opponents, they cannot be easily categorised as "good" or "evil". The several conflicts that fuel the story manage to be interesting without clear-cut heroes and villains. That itself lay waste to the idea that a "good villain" is a necessity. So no, cliches aren't a story-telling requirement, even when working in a genre.

I think that the problem is that we've been brainwashed into accepting clichés as the normal, most efficient way of telling stories. Audiences feel comfortable with them, love them, and want more of them. It's not just that scriptwriters who are lazy.
posted by elgilito at 6:34 AM on March 11, 2005


NickDouglas, sure, slavishly copying the conventions of Welles or Hitchcock is just lame--just look at DePalma's worst moments. But when a movie (a) makes observations about the conventions of a genre, (b) parodies those conventions, and (c) inserts other ideas of its own, then how can you say it's not basically firing on all cylinders?

This line of criticism just comes across as peanut-gallery nyah-nyahing. "Oooh...some other guy made the same observations first! So what if _he_ just translated those observations into a mildly humorous web page, and Brad Bird made a whole friggin' movie that millions of people loved! Brad Bird's automatically inferior!"

And on preview, yes, shmegegge, I think that original page is funny, too. I just don't think that it has _any_ bearing on whether or not The Incredibles is a good movie, and that's the basic argument that's being attacked here.
posted by LairBob at 6:34 AM on March 11, 2005


I have not yet seen The Incredibles, but eagerly await its DVD release particularly because I have heard from friends that it was really a deep movie - enjoyable on several levels. I must say that I am surprised to hear it attacked for its writing after it won a Screenplay Oscar (arguable, I know, but probably not "bad" writing).

Here is another take (and one I heard more often): The palette is darker, truthfully representing the source material, even aping the bombastic John Barry Bond scores note-for-gleeful-note. There’s also more action and adventure, plus enough menace to warrant the mature rating. Director Brad Bird, whose equally nostalgic The Iron Giant served as a preemptive strike, takes great delight in controlling his super world, reinventing the wheel with every chance he gets. Cliches are not only turned on their ear, they become silk purses. The Incredibles also has heart and soul, proving that in the right hands, we can even care about animated characters."
posted by spock at 6:45 AM on March 11, 2005


LairBob, excellent point, and I'd entirely agree. That's the "standing on shoulders" that I mentioned.

Quentin Tarantino, for example. He intentionally builds contrived plots, stilted dialog, and every cliché he can find -- but in doing so, he makes a new, essentially American interpretation of the Japanese fight-film. He takes the old and makes it new.

And that's what The Incredibles and Spiderman 2 do, and what, say, Elektra and Catwoman don't do.
posted by NickDouglas at 6:45 AM on March 11, 2005


Why do (bad) writers persist in using these plot devices?

Because they work. However, you're looking in the wrong place to find the cliches in The Incredibles- it's not a superhero movie; it's a masculinity reclamation movie that happens to have a superhero backdrop. And, it covers pretty much all the major cliche points of its actual genre:

* Mid-life man has fallen from his once great heights of glory.

* Mid-life man (for no explicable reason) is stuck in a job that in no way relates to his former glory.

* An unexpected catalyst pushes the mid-life man to revisit his days of glory.

* The central conflict of the story centers around the forces preventing the mid-life man from reclaiming his glory.

* In the end, mid-life man reaches a compromise- the people around him cede to his need for glory, and he cedes that he's no longer the young buck he was once (though he's still virile.)

The plot for The Incredibles is the exact same plot of any number "Former football hero..." "Former basketball star..." "Almost made it to the major leagues..." movie. It's The Rookie, replacing baseball bats with tights. The movie works because the superhero backstory is a new spin on an extremely well-tread Hollywood trope.

Instead of noting all the ways it's *not* a superhero movie, ponder why a man of such strength and former physical activity has chosen to work as an insurance adjuster instead of as a PE teacher.

Answer: Because if he were the PE teacher, the screenwriter would have to work harder to explain why the main char is unsatisified (in crisis,) which in turn makes it harder to propel the story forward (into the conflict,) and the last thing you want is for people to think your protagonist is a big, whiny baby.

Insurance Salesman is just as much of a cliche as the Evil Overlord Monologue. Hollywood shorthand for "completely unfulfilling life." I'd hazard a guess that there are folks who sell insurance who love it, but that wouldn't make a very good story.
posted by headspace at 6:47 AM on March 11, 2005 [6 favorites]


(I am a professional screenwriter- don't try this at home!)
posted by headspace at 6:50 AM on March 11, 2005


Plinko, LairBob - it was early and this was my first FPP. I was too confused by the link-posting interface to realize that I had misspelled 'monologuing'. Sorry - apologies to all...
posted by vhsiv at 6:52 AM on March 11, 2005


it's not a superhero movie; it's a masculinity reclamation movie

??? Why can't it be both, and why can't that juxtaposition itself be a creative gesture? It wouldn't even be the first work to do _that_, but I still don't see how the two things are supposed to be mutually exclusive.

And on preview, vhsiv, the comment on the typo was just a pointless snark. I wouldn't've really bothered to comment if I wasn't put off by the basic assertion of your post--don't worry about it.
posted by LairBob at 6:54 AM on March 11, 2005


Why can't it be both, and why can't that juxtaposition itself be a creative gesture?

That juxtaposition is why the movie works; I said that. Dropping one kind of story into a new environment takes skill, and when done well, it's a wonderful thing to behold. (Especially since that's generally how we get new, unique films- there are only seven stories in the whole world, ya gotta do something to make them your own.)

However, it can't be both for the same reason that The Firm is not a courtroom drama- the lawyering is the backdrop for the actual good-v-evil story (which is a thriller.) The Incredibles isn't about being a superhero; it's about Bob Parr's struggle to reclaim his glory- his glory is just incidentally being a superhero.

(The thing that's replaceable is always the backdrop: The Firm could have happened with senators instead of lawyers, The Incredibles could have happened with baseball players instead of superheroes. [Naturally, adjustments would have to be made, but the actual story wouldn't change, just the execution.])
posted by headspace at 7:04 AM on March 11, 2005


Wait, wait, wait - is vhsiv's assertion that the Incredibles was simply trafficking in cliches rather than spoofing them? I read "'The Incredibles' notched the clichés of the superhero genre - if not all action/adventure movies - with a thick red marker" as saying that it had self-knowingly ticked them off as though on a checklist, and the subsequent question referring to other writers. vhsiv, were you actually arguing that The Incredibles should've read these lists and then not included anything about these cliches? That would boggle my mind, but I was waiting for you to reappear and clarify that, yet when you commented, you didn't.

Also, "Spell Check. It's a feature!" is a nice pithy snark, except I'm willing to bet that "monologuing" is not recognized as a word in MeFi spell check.

On preview: Nope, it sure ain't. Jesus, neither is "superhero."
posted by soyjoy at 7:08 AM on March 11, 2005


headspace

Thanks for pointing that out. I found The Incredibles greatly enjoyable, but it's ONLY clever and inventive if you look at it as a "superhero movie." As you point out, it conforms to all sorts of other cliches, just not the ones in that genre. My girlfriend was horrified by its regressive 1950s-era gender classification, and was absolutely fuming that they'd put out a children's film (which is what it was marketed as regardless of content) which reinforced "the duty of the mom is to stay home and watch the kids" style stereotypes.

And neither of us much appreciated the film's handling of its black characters. (all two of them) Frozone was amusing if you're an adult and familiar with Samuel Jackson, but not a terribly positive character for a young child to see. And don't even get us started on his (unseen!) screaming wife and the stereotype she represents. Why is there blacksploitation in my kiddie pic?

I think at some point along the line, Bird lost total track of who the target audience was going to be. Had this clearly been a film meant for adults, I wouldn't have any complaints. (I accepted the above cliches as being part and parcel with the genre-bending... You can't spoof James Bond without getting his sexism in there too.) But it crossed a line when it was aimed at kids.

In this respect, I think his The Iron Giant was a superior film. Perhaps not as thrilling, but it strikes a much better (and more honest) balance between appealing to both kids and adults.
posted by InnocentBystander at 7:14 AM on March 11, 2005


elgilito - to you princess monoke might be fresh and original, but where it's from - japan - has different conventions and cliches that you're not used to. just look at that other earlier miyazaku movie - nausicaa and you'll see that there are tons of simularities in plot.
not that im saying princess monoke was bad, in fact its an awesome movie, but its not hugely original. it's based a lot on what was already popular in japanese culture.
tarzan may have seemed stale because it used a lot of outdated cliches that worked for disney in the past, but with digital effects of swinging through trees.
posted by klik99 at 7:20 AM on March 11, 2005


Klik99 - given the 10 year gap between Nausicaa and Mononoke, I see the similarities more as being a matter of someone revisiting a theme. If you look at them, his statement and meditations on evironmentalism and the causes of war have matured greatly in the years between the two works. I find it perfectly excusable that he'd decide to revisit the subject, since his outlook had broadened so far since he first visited it.

Now, if you want to harp, we can talk about the absolutely needless insertion of an anti-war polemic into 'Howl's Moving Castle.' THAT had no purpose and felt like Miyazaki running out of ideas. (which is doubly odd since the novel was full of ideas he could've used instead)
posted by InnocentBystander at 7:28 AM on March 11, 2005


elgilito: Mononoke kept being fresh and surprising. Particularly, almost all characters in Mononoke have respectable reasons for their actions and while they are opponents, they cannot be easily categorised as "good" or "evil".

While I have deep admiration for Miyazaki, I think it's important to remember that Miyakaki's stories employ certain traditions and, yes, cliches as well that are perhaps better masked to non-Japanese eyes because we aren't as familiar with his country's cinema. I don't necessarily think that anyone is saying that cliches are a requirement. They're more of an inevitability. The best movies don't avoid them so much as they are aware of them and turn them into a positive. At least, to my mind.

lairbob: I completely understand your motivations, and I don't think you're wrong to feel the way you do. Really, it'll make vhsiv a better poster. I was just afraid that a pile-on was about to occur. I certainly wasn't trying to focus solely on you.

vhsiv: so, since your post has a double link in it, there's one link we never got to see. Feel like putting it in a comment?

on preview: soyjoy: good point! I also read vhsiv's post as saying that incredibles deliberately played off of these cliches, and instead wanted to know why other story tellers, particularly in comic books, used them seriously. vhsiv, care to comment?
posted by shmegegge at 7:34 AM on March 11, 2005


np, shmegegge, but to your last point, if vhsiv was trying to exempt Bird from being tarred with that same brush, that nuance totally escaped me (and many others, obviously).

I definitely read "with a thick, red marker" as implying that Bird was crude and simplistic, and the rest of the post definitely doesn't do much to counter that impression. vhsiv?
posted by LairBob at 7:46 AM on March 11, 2005


Ha! This was awesome.
I love these "pattern-recognition" lists.
My friend and I were talking the other day about
how there's only like, 4 kinds of videogames.
There's driving games, fighting games, shooting games,
and RPGs, and everything else is a variation on that.
We were very drunk when we had this conversation
so I'm quite sure we were full of shit, but in a soberer
moment we might return to that idea.
posted by Sully at 7:56 AM on March 11, 2005


Huh. I read it to mean that, though bad writers rely on these cliches, Bird somehow managed to avoid them with The Incredibles, and why can't more people be like him? (Hence my initial response.) Now I wonder if that's what he actually meant. Curious linguistics going on today!
posted by headspace at 8:00 AM on March 11, 2005


InnocentBystander: I'm with your girlfriend, but for completely different reasons! The movie made me angry as a screenwriter, because there was no reason for Parr to have *chosen* to be an insurance adjuster, and IMHO, the story would have worked much better if they'd just used the usual catalyst- Coach sees his kids at the pinnacle and wishes he were there, again- but that's entirely subjective. I felt like the insurance adjuster job was a total cop-out.

The movie made me angry as a parent because nobody *made* Bob Parr have three kids. He was forced to relocate to the 'burbs, but it was his choice to have a family, and once he made that decision, he had an absolute obligation to take care of his family even if that meant he couldn't be Incredible anymore. It drove me batty that the wife was right- he was selfish and irresponsible and childish, but ultimately, the message of the movie was "But that's okay, 'cause he's special."

All around, I agree with your assessment: this really should have been a movie for adults, because the social issues it modelled, from Frozone to Stay At Home Moms to the institution of marriage, to responsibility, etc., really weren't all that great for kids- but they're pretty good fodder for adult discussions of the same!
posted by headspace at 8:11 AM on March 11, 2005


I'm with the group that read this as bashing the movie for being cliché-ridden.

Headspace, I'm late to the game, but it seemed clear that Parr was turned into an insurance adjuster instead of a PE instructor (or a fireman, or a substance-abuse counselor) because there are more jokes to be made about the big guy sitting in a tiny office at the bottom of the food chain, where his impulses to be helpful don't have an outlet, than in showing him running around being an athletic mentor to a bunch of kids whom he could help on a daily basis.

It's also a comment on governmental inefficiency: they're so mindlessly bureaucratic that they can't recognize that they're stuffing him in these jobs that slowly kill him. (You suggest that he chose to be an insurance adjuster, but I'm pretty sure that his government contact talked about placing him there, and about how hard it was to find him jobs because of all the trouble he causes.)
posted by goatdog at 8:24 AM on March 11, 2005


I'm with your girlfriend, but for completely different reasons!

Well I should hope so!
posted by soyjoy at 8:25 AM on March 11, 2005


In defense of the movie, remember that he didn't choose to be an insurance adjuster. He was in a "witness protection program" for superheroes that the government had forced him into, which is why he had that government agent on his case about his actions. I also seem to remember, though I haven't seen the movie in a while, that this was not the first incident in which an outburst cost him his job, so it's not unreasonable that he started out doing something more in tune with his abilities but was moved to a desk job to keep him occupied.

As to the child thing, headspace, I think you already gave the reason why he resents the children he has in your above post about the Incredibles as a mid-life crisis movie. The movie wasn't saying that it was okay for him to act selfishly because he is special, as one of the themes was him rediscovering the importance of his family and coming to terms with it, as you said. It was just showing a man, like many men his age in the real world, who wakes up one day and wonders what happened to that wild, fun-loving guy he had been.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:35 AM on March 11, 2005


Parr was turned into an insurance adjuster instead of a PE instructor (or a fireman, or a substance-abuse counselor) because there are more jokes to be made about the big guy sitting in a tiny office at the bottom of the food chain

Well, sure, that's the scriptwriting reason. But in fairness to the writers, it would make sense for the government, whose only interest is in keeping his superhero behavior from breaking out with unpredictable results, to pick a job where that would be the least likely to happen, where his function is something completely antithetical to heroic physicality.

Also, while we wait (and wait!) for vhsiv to get back in here and clarify that FPP wording, here's my AskMe thread from yesterday on which format of the DVD (which comes out Tuesday) would be more appropriate for this movie, since they're forcing us to choose between one or the other.
posted by soyjoy at 8:35 AM on March 11, 2005


Headspace - exactly. When you start digging into its nuts & bolts, it's just not a terribly good children's movie. *I*, an adult, enjoy it a lot and will be buying the DVD... but it's not one I think I'll be showing to my hypothetical spawn.

The insurance thing didn't actually bother me. I understand what you mean about it being shorthand for "unfulfilled life" BUT I can also see how Parr would've been drawn to it. Presumably he's been banned from taking any jobs that would let him directly help the public - police man, firefighter, etc. Initially, I believe, he would've thought being a "good guy" inside the insurance business was the closest he could come to helping those in need.

Since his overriding character motivation seems to be an unquenchible desire to help people, I could swallow that choice of employment. It makes more sense in terms of his character than, as you suggest, him becoming a coach. What capital-G Good would THAT do anyone?

It makes it harder to assess who is "right" between him and his wife. From another point of view, HE'S the one acting from the more noble standpoint, looking at the Big Picture, while his wife wants him to forget about higher nobility and just focus on his family. Helen never seems to care at all about anything that's going on EXCEPT rescuing Bob and getting the family back together, and only gets involved with the real Heroic aspsects at the very end, when she basically has no choice. (and I'm almost tempted to wonder... had the Atlasbot been aimed at someplace besides their home town, would she have been so willing to fly off and stop it?)
posted by InnocentBystander at 8:36 AM on March 11, 2005


to add to the list:

When firing a machine gun at the escaping hero, I will begin firing in front of him and sweep backwards instead of shooting behind him and then try to catch up by making certain the bullets path changes at the same pace that he is running.

It is easier to recruit new villains than to try to lure the hero to my side.

Functionality is more important than style. Large computers do not need panels of blinking lights.

And, of course:

I will pay journalists to promote my superevil policies.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:45 AM on March 11, 2005


Bird lost total track of who the target audience was going to be. Had this clearly been a film meant for adults, I wouldn't have any complaints.

Well, it is rated PG, which means it's for older kids, at the very least.
posted by kindall at 8:48 AM on March 11, 2005


I think capes look awesome on a superhero. I wish they were in style today, frankly. I'd wear one every day while I walked to work, if I thought I could pull it off without getting mugged. Even in The Incredibles, as the tailor rages against them, Mr Incredible peppers her diatribe with phrases like "Yeah, that was a great looking cape, really sharp" etc...

Me too. I was hoping the cloaks in the Lord of the Rings would bring cloaks and capes back in style for a bit but no joy.

Instead of noting all the ways it's *not* a superhero movie, ponder why a man of such strength and former physical activity has chosen to work as an insurance adjuster instead of as a PE teacher.

If your trying to create a new identity it's key that you give up all patterns and trackable quirks. So if you love Jack Daniels it's key that you start drinking congac or something, anything that isn't whiskey instead. Maybe give up drinking all together. If your a windows guy it time to buy a Mac. If you only date leggy blonds start dating Asians. If you were employed as an accountant it's time to learn how to drive a truck. And if your a super strong superhero you become an office worker.
posted by Mitheral at 8:50 AM on March 11, 2005


It's worth mentioning again, BTW, that I did enjoy the Incredibles as an adult movie. But I find it fascinating, really, how certain movies can have totally different interpretations just depending on how you look at them. It's brilliant as a superhero movie / spoof, and everything about it is perfect if you look at it from THAT angle... but switch things around and look at it as social commentary, and it falls to pieces. Then look at it as a kid's movie, and you've got a whole different set of triumphs and deficiencies.

So which is it? Does the movie have to succeed on all fronts to be considered "good?" Or is it ok for a good movie to only be good when looked at a certain way? Am I being a hypocrite for criticizing its social worldview while defending Million Dollar Baby from those who attack it?

(of course, my opinion is that since you can have such varied and interesting discussions of the content, it's a good movie in that respect as well, even if you don't agree with everything it says from every angle)
posted by InnocentBystander at 8:50 AM on March 11, 2005


it seemed clear that Parr was turned into an insurance adjuster instead of a PE instructor (or a fireman, or a substance-abuse counselor) because there are more jokes to be made about the big guy sitting in a tiny office at the bottom of the food chain, where his impulses to be helpful don't have an outlet

That's exactly why he was an insurance adjuster, but that's a meta-reason, not a native character reason (ie, it's a screenwriting decision that serves the screenwriter better than it serves the character.) I remember the government guy implying that the latest relocation was difficult because of all the trouble he causes; I got the impression he was talking about putting the family in a willing community (due to the destruction Bob leaves in his wake,) as opposed to putting Bob in a particular job.

But! It's been a while since I've seen the movie, so let's say that I'm wrong about that interpretation.

If the script had the government agent address the "why is Bob in this stupid job?" problem, they have another screenwriting problem on their hands: why is Bob acting like a spoiled child? Because presumably, if Bob got stuck as insurance adjuster as "punishment" because he ruined his chances at all other types of jobs, why can't this adult understand cause v effect? Basically- if he was forced to take the insurance job because he couldn't behave, then Bird veers away from screenwriting problem to story problem: the unsympathetic (stupid) protagonist. [Also seen in horror movies, ie, why is that idiot going outside to look for the cat?!]

And (swinging back around to the post itself, whee!) that's actually a pretty good reason writers persist in using cliches: as long as they don't make the audience groan, they work to set the parameters of the shared universe: the audience is not supposed to ask why Bob is an insurance adjuster when he'd be better suited to being a football coach- the audience is supposed to sympathize with Bob because his job sucks.

The Incredibles is successful because nobody's ever made a masculinity reclamation film about a former superhero, and that conversion (plus the fact that it's animated,) is fresh and exciting enough to overcome story problems that would fell a similar movie with a more traditional backstory. I don't think that live action Bob Parr, former gunslinger story, would have sold.
posted by headspace at 8:53 AM on March 11, 2005


I apologize, sincerely, for the apparent ambiguity in the way that I phrased my FPP and the misspelling.

By referencing 'The Incredibles' use of "No capes" and "no monologuing", I was not seeking to throw aspersions on Mr. Bird's fine creation, I was instead CELEBRATING his wisdom for recognizing the clichés and drawing the audience's attention to them.

And shmegegge, I guess I REALLY screwed that one up. Here's the 3rd link. Some people don't drink and post - I guess I need to be sure to get coffee before I attempt to use the internet.
posted by vhsiv at 9:11 AM on March 11, 2005


InnocentBystander, I've gone through a lot of the same twists and turns you're describing as far as letting myself enjoy movies; I've decided that if you like something you like it, even if you see how it's open to attack from a given angle. I mean, otherwise you set yourself up for a lifetime of being an angsty undergrad who (for instance) can't enjoy Twain because he uses currently-unacceptable words, or can't enjoy Lost in Translation because it protrays people having difficulty relating to Japanese culture or can't enjoy the Transformers movie because it depicts a robocentric universe where for some reason all planets are populated by transforming robots.

So The Incredibles works for you as a superhero satire. I'd just enjoy it on that level.
posted by COBRA! at 9:13 AM on March 11, 2005


Oh, and I'd add that there's certainly value in looking at a movie from all sorts of angles; it's just a bad idea, in doing so, to talk yourself out of liking something that appeals to you.
posted by COBRA! at 9:14 AM on March 11, 2005


Cobra! Oh, that's the conclusion I've come to as well... I just like the existential questions. :-)
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:14 AM on March 11, 2005


Whoa, InnocentByStander, I don't share your girlfriend's horror in the slightest.

"My girlfriend was horrified by its regressive 1950s-era gender classification, and was absolutely fuming that they'd put out a children's film (which is what it was marketed as regardless of content) which reinforced "the duty of the mom is to stay home and watch the kids" style stereotypes."

Where did the movie "push" being a stay-at-home-mom? Because it depicted a family who had chosen that lifestyle? Is that not a legal, "progressive" choice for a woman? Or is the only allowed, non-horrifying choice for the woman to work and the children to be in day-care? It seemed that the Parr family was doing all right financially without a second income, and if that was the case, why would you want both people to work? Are you claiming that it is better as a society to hold up the idea of dual-incomes as the default expected situation, and single-income as an aberration or regressive? If so, I think we've lost something as a society, something we'll never get back. We will have lost the right to raise our children ourselves.

For my part, I took my children to see the movie, and I've preordered the DVD. Any stereotypes can and will be discussed with all three of my children. Seriously, many people (often ones who don't even have children) are so overblown about trying to "protect" children from ideas-they-don't-like, bad language or whatever. I trust them more than that. Possibly as a result of this attitude, they are friendly, curious, and open young people.
posted by Invoke at 9:16 AM on March 11, 2005


Seriously, many people (often ones who don't even have children) are so overblown about trying to "protect" children from ideas-they-don't-like, bad language or whatever. I trust them more than that. Possibly as a result of this attitude, they are friendly, curious, and open young people.

Wow. I keep my kids in cages and they bite when strangers come too close...

For me, I didn't like the movie, but we have a copy reserved to pick up at Best Buy- why? The kids liked it. There're a million ways to judge a film- was The Incredibles good?

Well...

It entertained a *lot* of people. So by that standard, it was good.

It made a *lot* of money, which is the goal of show business. So by that standard, it was good.

It subverted a pretty stale storytelling trope with its novel execution. So by that standard, it was good.

It's capable of sustaining thoughtful conversations about many of the themes and the way they were presented. So by that standard, it was good.

In my opinion, it did not have a good script , and I've outlined the reasons why- I'm pretty much incapable of watching a movie or a tv show without thinking about the script. It's just like watching a movie in which the main character shares your profession- every time they make an error (or do something particularly accurate,) you're gonna notice. I'm not trying to protect anybody here- I'm just talking about the way one of my peers did his job.
posted by headspace at 9:28 AM on March 11, 2005


Invoke If you're going to discuss it with your kids, then excellent. Not everyone will do this.

But beyond that, let's look at the women in the movie. You've got Helen, who we've discussed at length. Then there's their daughter Violet, as in shrinking. Another cliche walking around - girl with no self-esteem, and all she really wants is to date the hot guy. Then there's Mirage, who serves NO purpose in the movie except to be the semi-bad girl that Bond Parr converts to good.

Oh, and Edna Mode, who's just manipulative and annoying, plus a stereotype on pushy designer types. (I won't mention the J-word here, but I know I'm not the only one who thought it) Plus, she was voiced by male director Brad Bird.

Any ONE of these in a film would have been OK, but this movie possesses *no* progressive female characters. They're all straight out of a 50s mentality. And they could have overcome it easily. What if Violet, after getting some self-confidence, realizes she doesn't have to date the jock after all? Or Helen acknowledges that there IS a world outside of her family at some point during the whole film. Or Mirage had anything to do besides being the weak-willed girl who gets led around by more powerful men?

It's the cumulative effect, not any one element by itself.
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:39 AM on March 11, 2005


yup--women don't count at all, and it's ok to lie to them and sneak around behind their backs, ignoring family and responsibilities, then when you're caught, they have to join you instead of you going back to normal life.
posted by amberglow at 9:48 AM on March 11, 2005


The body typing is also rather interesting. Most of the men in the movie (besides Syndrome's hideously huge head, and hey, he's the bad guy so he can look weird) got fairly normal bodies. Slightly chariactured, but not bad. (especially Parr's progression from overweight to being (mostly) fit again)

But all the "attractive" women are incredibly thin stick figures. Lovely body dysmorphia reinforcement there. Oh, except, tee-hee, Helen has a bit a butt... but in the Sir Mix-A-Lot way.

And the only woman who is (at least) independent and successful is dumpy and completely unattractive. Not to mention voiced by a man.
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:54 AM on March 11, 2005


What I want to know is why people keep making fun of supervillain cliches. They're just not that funny anymore, not after being made fun of since before "The Tick" and all that. It's old.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:57 AM on March 11, 2005


Crikey. Some people take their comedy way too seriously.
posted by spock at 10:01 AM on March 11, 2005


"My girlfriend was horrified by its regressive 1950s-era gender classification, and was absolutely fuming that they'd put out a children's film (which is what it was marketed as regardless of content) which reinforced "the duty of the mom is to stay home and watch the kids" style stereotypes."

In most American children's movies, the parents are dead for some reason.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:08 AM on March 11, 2005


I have not yet seen The Incredibles, but eagerly await its DVD release particularly because I have heard from friends that it was really a deep movie

Unfortunately, your friends are wrong.

Some people take their comedy way too seriously.

You have a generous definition of comedy.

Thanks for the insight, headspace. Enlightening. You nailed a few of the reasons why I didn't like it that I hadn't realized, though I must disagree that it "sustains thoughtful conversations." I thought it was crap. I hope I would have thought it was crap if I were 7, but I honestly dunno.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:20 AM on March 11, 2005


speaking of villains, the Venture Brothers on Adult Swim does a really excellent job with them.
posted by amberglow at 10:23 AM on March 11, 2005


I must disagree that it "sustains thoughtful conversations."

This very thread - as well as this one, - seems to belie that categorical judgement. Although anyone who says the movie itself is a "really deep movie" must have been on something stronger than I was when they saw it.
posted by soyjoy at 10:55 AM on March 11, 2005


amberglow: i keep waiting for someone to refer to the monarch's running monolouge as "monolouging". perhaps in season 2. go team venture!

[/derail]
posted by pxe2000 at 11:09 AM on March 11, 2005


Why do (bad) writers persist in using these plot devices?

Good writers persist in using tried and true plot devices as well. See for example, Shakespeare.

Leaf through many essays on genre studies. Take a look at the works of Northrop Frye, particularly Anatomy of Criticism.

Slightly off topic derail:
The day something like boy likes girl, girl likes boy, family doesn't like boy or girl, problems ensue, madcap adventures result, girl/boy gets girl/boy and everything is resolved, is patented or copyrighted is the day the American and other legal systems go... Oh wait, we're pretty well there aren't we!
posted by juiceCake at 11:15 AM on March 11, 2005


Three things:

One, why is there any outrage at a movie depicting a woman staying at home with the kids, but none whatsoever at the depiction of the man working at a job he hates to support his family? I've got twins on the way, and I'll tell you what, I would -LOVE- to quit my job and spend time raising them while my wife works, instead of working for a living. In a perfect world, both of us would stay at home.

Two, by the end of the movie, the stay-at-home mom, work-a-lousy-job dad, shy-and-no-self-esteem girl and self-centered-and-snotty boy have all resolved these issues -- the girl has confidence, the boy has restraint, the mom and dad are doing what they love again. So it showed the stereotypes so that the characters could break out of that behavior -- where's the problem?

Three, someone said that most of the men have "normal" body types...what? The father's achingly huge upper body is normal? That's steroid-induced, baby.

Having a bad day, taking it out on all of you...
posted by davejay at 12:29 PM on March 11, 2005


None whatsoever at the depiction of the man working at a job he hates to support his family?

Because first chance he gets, he quits the job and goes on a lying and subterfuge spree with another woman? I'm just guessing here...
posted by headspace at 1:13 PM on March 11, 2005


Well, we did go into the whole "man working at a job he hates to support his family" quite a bit upthread. And you seem to have missed the comment that Violet, though she's now not so shy, is still all about getting approval from the popular boy. That was one moment that made me cringe.

Still, I have to agree that it's hard to do something that's an overall parody without reinforcing some stereotypes. It's a balancing act: If you subvert all the stereotypes, it's not recognizable anymore as connected to its source.
posted by soyjoy at 1:54 PM on March 11, 2005


headspace - thanks for your insight as a screenwriter, it's fascinating.
posted by jb at 2:55 PM on March 11, 2005


Isn't the oafish husband with a nascent Peter Pan complex going on a "lying subterfuge spree with another woman" simply the equivalent stereo-typing applied to Violet and Helen? It isn't as though Bob goes unpunished for his behavior. He goes into the stereotypical dog-house just like any 50's era sitcom husband.

It would be one thing if the stereotypes were one-sided or unevenly applied, but I thought that one of the things that worked best about the script for Incredibles was that everyone got pretty much the same treatment and then had an opportunity to rise above it. Elastigirl's Helen seemed equally trapped in her life as Mr. Incredible was in his cubicle.
posted by FYKshun at 3:33 PM on March 11, 2005


Why I Love Metafilter, Reason 82: A mediocre post often makes up for itself in the discussion that follows.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:29 PM on March 11, 2005


i don't know, FYKshun--the others in the family only got to rise above their stereotyped behavior after the dad had been sneaking around, and only did it because of the dad's actions, not because of any innate desire of their own. They did it in support of him, which cancels out any rising above.
posted by amberglow at 4:33 PM on March 11, 2005


Thanks for the insight, headspace. Enlightening.

I agree. Excellent analysis all around.
posted by graventy at 4:46 PM on March 11, 2005


Man, I just came so close...

I initially read amberglow's post as "the others in _my_ family..." and started drafting a response that tried to point out (as unsnarkily as I could) the difference between real life and characters in a movie...

I would have had to get a new screen name.

*ahem*

I think your point could be well argued, amberglow, but it kind of feels like working backwards to reach a fore-drawn conclusion.

In order for that logic to hold, you have to blame Bob for getting captured by Synapse. If it was a one-off crime, then, maybe, you could give Bob more credit for getting caught and acting as the catalyst, but Synapse had already single-handedly decimated the world's hidden super-hero population. Synapse may have been a stereotypical doof, but he was also a formidable villain.

Beyond that, Helen didn't have to go after Bob, she could have contacted authorities. The kids were ordered to stay with the babysitter out of harm's way. They didn't have to sneak onto the plane. Once they got to the island, the kids didn't have to work together or protect each other, they rose above the limitations that had been artificially placed upon them to achieve something substantively greater.

Again, I'm not saying that sexist and racial stereotypes aren't there, I'm saying that they have been evenly and purposefully applied, and that most (if not all) of the characters in the movie succeed because they rise above the expectations (stereotypes) placed upon them, or they fail because they don't.
posted by FYKshun at 5:29 PM on March 11, 2005


Thanks for the kind words- I enjoyed the chance to talk about it!
posted by headspace at 7:04 PM on March 11, 2005


but she couldn't have gone to the authorities, given his fucked-up status with them, and the multiple problems he'd already caused--it would have meant admitting he was superheroing, which was illegal. It would have meant the end of the family, probably. She had no choice but to go after him, which takes away her rising above. She was an enabler, because she knew her family had to come first, and he was too selfish.
posted by amberglow at 8:42 PM on March 11, 2005


InnocentBystander:

I'm sorry, but it sounds to me like you were actually trying to be offended by the movie. Your description of the female characters is myopic at best and you straight up ignore the characteristics that don't fit into your thesis.

First of all, Helen:

HE'S the one acting from the more noble standpoint, looking at the Big Picture, while his wife wants him to forget about higher nobility and just focus on his family. Helen never seems to care at all about anything that's going on EXCEPT rescuing Bob and getting the family back together, and only gets involved with the real Heroic aspsects at the very end, when she basically has no choice.

Yeah, OR she's trying to get her HUSBAND to remember that one's family can be one's highest, most noble calling. See, the 50's stereotype would let the guy go do his thing and see that the family was taken care of herself, since home life is her role. Helen rejects that and insists that he be a present husband and father. That's not a sexist stereotype, it's a human story.

But all the "attractive" women are incredibly thin stick figures. Lovely body dysmorphia reinforcement there. Oh, except, tee-hee, Helen has a bit a butt... but in the Sir Mix-A-Lot way.

What nonsense. Oh, except teehee Helen? translation: "Oh, except the principle female figure in the movie, who has precisely the kind of figure that modern heroines are expected not to have, but I'll just dismiss that as a cute characteristic since it doesn't fit my argument at all." She's an elastic woman. She can shape herself in almost anyway she can imagine, including, if she so chose, making herself slimmer in the booty and thighs. She doesn't choose. She's strong enough in who she is to be ok with it. The movie, itself, is okay with her being that way. See, being ok with your body is a progressive attitude for a female to have.

Then there's their daughter Violet, as in shrinking. Another cliche walking around - girl with no self-esteem, and all she really wants is to date the hot guy.

But THEN she overcomes it, gets some self-confidence and is better for it. One might call this a PROGRESSION. Oh, but of course you address this...

What if Violet, after getting some self-confidence, realizes she doesn't have to date the jock after all?

So what if the character completely changes everything about how she feels for no reason other than to not be interested in a jock? I'm sorry, but progressive women don't date who YOU would prefer, but who THEY would prefer.

I hope I'm getting through on this. You're criticizing the movie for putting in nothing but stick characters, which is flatly untrue. You're criticizing it for relegating the role of the woman to the family and the man to the workplace. Untrue again. You're criticizing it because a teenage girl is interested in a cute boy from school... just silly.

I think what it comes down to is this: Characters develop in a good story. So they start in one place and end in another. In this instance they start in a bad situation (dad neglecting family out of insecurity, mom frazzled and over-protective, daughter shy and lacking in self-confidence.) and then they end up better off. (Dad works with family more, reassumes role as father figure and husband. Mom chills a bit, remembers her old ambitions, daughter gains self-confidence.) You can't criticize the movie for making characters with problems if the movie recognizes them as problems and shows a progressive solution to them by the end. Well, you can, but you'd be making inaccurate generalizations and ignoring key factors of the plot.

I agree about Frozone, though. That character flat out stunned me. I mean, Ozone doesn't even have anything to do with cold. It's just there so that they could put FRO into his name. Fucked up.

posted by shmegegge at 1:11 AM on March 12, 2005


headspace, if i could take you back a bit...
i don't understand: why should bob's dead-end job blues make audiences see him as a spoiled baby? being stuck doing a job one can't stand is something almost every audience member can relate to. i think it falls under "circumstances beyond one's control". also, the movie portrays the insurance company, quite pointedly, as a terrible flawed bureaucracy whose main byproduct is human misery. i think by association, the government itself (as portrayed in the movie) can be seen as inept for even placing bob in such a job.
the angle about bob being relegated to insurance because of past transgressions is irrelevant. being stuck in a nowhere job is more or less the plight of western man, i don't think you need a backstory to explain it.
posted by Silky Slim at 6:09 AM on March 12, 2005


also: fykshun: it's syndrome, not synapse. and shmegegge, note that frozone has "froze" in it.
posted by Silky Slim at 6:11 AM on March 12, 2005


[Warning: This post contains specific plot spoilers]

i don't understand: why should bob's dead-end job blues make audiences see him as a spoiled baby?... (snip) i don't think you need a backstory to explain it.

Just to clarify, my problem is not that Bob is an insurance adjuster. My problem is the way he became one.

You don't need a backstory to explain this career choice, but the screenwriter chose to present one. Instead of Bob sinking down into the oblivion of the Hero Relocation Program and getting stuck in a dead-end job (which would be completely normal and reasonable,) the screenwriter offered us that Bob has to be relocated on a fairly regular basis because he just cannot control his impulses at all.

So, ultimately, if Bob ends relocated for the zillionth time and in a lousy job (because you don't get to be CEO if you don't stay in one place for any length of time,) then ultimately, he's gotten what he deserves. He thought it was more important to have his moonlighting hero sprees than to settle into one place and work on building a satisfactory non-hero life. Bam, unsympathetic protagonist- he brought his misery on himself.

If you don't offer to explain how someone ended up somewhere, then the audience can imagine it and there's nothing to contradict the idea that, like a lot of other people, Bob just ended up doing a job he really hates. Hey, it happens.

When the screenwriter decided to offer a backstory, we find out that Bob didn't just end up there; he pretty much engineered it because he can't control himself. Naturally, the former creates a more sympathetic protagonist than the latter.

Now, heavy opinion time:

The problem I see with this particular bit of foundation is that the screenwriter didn't think about the implications of Bob's actions- and the fact that it's comedy is no excuse. Comedy is much harder to write than drama (IMHO,) but the best comedy works because the resolution is absolutely demanded. (It's the same reason people groan about puns, but laugh at limericks-- puns just kinda happen. Limericks are designed so that by the end of the poem, you *have* to have a dirty, amusing rhyme; there is no other way to end it.)

Screenwriting-wise, Bird sacrificed characterization for funny- the situations that lead to Bob's troubles are easy funny, more so than Bob just accepted his weary fate until a catalyst moment. It would take a lot more work to make Bob's fall honest to the character and funny.

He didn't have to- I think, in editing, the movie could have started with the past scenes, cut to the present, boom, Bob's an insurance adjuster- remove all references to past bad behavior, and cut it so that when he sneaks out with his friend and foils the robbery, that's the first glimmer of Bob trying to reclaim his past. (And, it removes another 50s stereotype- the bumbing, incompetent dad. If the robbery is the first time Bob's been active in 10 years, he's bound to be a little rusty.)
posted by headspace at 12:12 PM on March 12, 2005


i think you're seeing it too much as an adult, while i'm seeing it more like the kid that i am.
as soon as you see bob helping out the little old lady, you're for bob in his fight against the corrupt bureaucracy, are you not? of course this is the only instance of bob getting fired that's depicted in the movie, but i think one assumes that it was commendable deeds that got him fired those times as well. in other words, bob good, system bad. that's all there is to it.
do you think audiences would have related to a protagonist who slaves away for years in a dull job, obeying all the rules, against his true nature? in real life maybe, but not in a movie.
posted by Silky Slim at 1:03 PM on March 12, 2005


i think you're seeing it too much as an adult, while i'm seeing it more like the kid that i am.

I'm seeing it as a screenwriter- this is just a puzzle for me to play with. The target demo for this movie doesn't care how Bob ended up where, nor should they. Pixar just has a reputation for making children's films that are so clever, they work on two levels- one for the kiddies and one for the parents (See also: Toy Story.)

This particular movie succeeded on the children's cinema level, but I don't feel the script rose to the challenge of succeeding perfectly on the adult level because of logical character errors (See also: A Bug's Life.)

do you think audiences would have related to a protagonist who slaves away for years in a dull job, obeying all the rules, against his true nature?

No, I don't, because that's boring. However, the intervening years? Completely extraneous. They have nothing to do with the story; with the foundation that Bird chose to establish the character is just too much information.

I personally think it would have been a stronger story if Bob had been a PE teacher or a football coach, with the catalyst for his return to superherodom in seeing his students/players being treated like heroes when he knows what it it's really all about. It would be harder to make my way funny, but my way would also underline the point that Bob longs to help people, not just run around and be super. But that's just my way; pick 10 screenwriters, they'd have ten other ways. The fix is subjective.

Objectively, all we need to know is that Bob is not happy and wants to reclaim his glory- a screenwriter can get there a hundred different ways. We don't need to know that he has impulse control problems. You have to be careful with the Peter Pan archetype or it backfires.

Anyway, I'm not saying that everybody who liked it ought to rethink their position. The entire point of a movie is to have fun, so if you had fun, it succeeded. If it bothered you, maybe I can help you figure out why. I just enjoy taking the toy apart and putting it back together- exercises like these help me do a better job when it comes time to write a script.
posted by headspace at 1:29 PM on March 12, 2005


ok, headspace. it's an exercise for me too, except i'm finding out a lot more, having devoted a lot less thought to it than you have. so, may i continue a bit further?
i guess for me, the best way to make a character sympathetic is to pit him against an evil power beyond his control; "the man", if you will. that automatically endears him to people like me, who on some level feel out of place in the world. i think it also endears him to kids, who by definition feel that way.
bob wasn't born to work in any kind of an office environment. his nature is more that of an artist, to break free of conventions and to do his own thing. he knows that's more important than the path that the superhero relocation program laid out for him. in that sense, "the incredibles" is a classic fantasy of living out your full potential on some mysterious island, away from real life, and as such i have no problem with it.
the bottom line is that in films like these, eventually fantasy wins and the real world loses, so why have him (even marginally) well adjusted to begin with?
posted by Silky Slim at 1:51 PM on March 12, 2005


at any rate, thank everyone for a great thread!
posted by Silky Slim at 2:31 PM on March 12, 2005


Pixar just has a reputation for making children's films that are so clever, they work on two levels- one for the kiddies and one for the parents (See also: Toy Story.)

IMHO, Toy Story doesn't "work on two levels" -- we as adults root for the toys just as much the kids, even though we, as adults, know that the whole premise is totally absurd. There are some gags that only adults will get, but the story doesn't succeed or fail on them. Kids understand everything significant about Toy Story. Adults and kids see the same movie. For adults it's more or less a chance to be a child again -- the success of Toy Story is founded upon how well it sustains that illusion.

Now there are multiple levels of meaning to The Incredibles and even to Finding Nemo -- there are nuances of motivation and emotion that only adults can understand in both films, and they're important. The picture kids see is not the same picture that adults see.

The same is true of Bird's earlier work, The Iron Giant -- what do kids know of beatniks or the Cold War? To them, Dean McCoppin is just a funny guy who drinks a lot of coffee. They inevitably miss a significant part of his character that adults automatically fill in from their stereotype file (we know he's probably creative before any of his art is shown, for instance). They don't understand why the film would be joking about being blown up by an atomic bomb ("Duck and Cover") or even see that nuclear war is a threat that hangs over the entire film like a cloud. They think Kent Mansley is just being mean to Hogarth and that the General just yells a lot because that's the kind of guy he is. It's also a movie about a boy who becomes friends with a giant robot, but that's only part of it. Adults will see much more in it.
posted by kindall at 3:12 PM on March 12, 2005


Why do (bad) writers persist in using these plot devices?

Because bad viewers persist in watching them. Stop going to crap and they'll stop making it.

But cliches don't matter so much when you're writing for kids -- they haven't seen everything before -- and sci-fi, fantasy, and cartoons have almost always been intended for a relatively young, naive, gee-whiz audience that doesn't mind and maybe requires a simple, unambiguous plot in which a good guy beats a bad (mean! unfair!) guy.

These cliches might bother some older viewers, but if you're 40 and paying to see a Spiderman movie... eh. I don't feel like starting anything. But these things should be judged from a kid's point of view. To kids, capes aren't old, they're cool, and maybe they're somehow necessary for flight (they certainly help movie directors show that the hero is flying, not hanging still on some wires in a studio), and all evil geniuses have to have a mwaah-hahahaha laugh so you know just how dangerously crazy they are.
posted by pracowity at 4:45 PM on March 12, 2005


You know how little kids demand to hear the same bedtime story over and over and over again?

Perhaps that's why cliches and stereotypes work so well in a movie like this: it comforts us and dumbs us down and lets us just relish the flow of the story.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:43 PM on March 12, 2005


WOW... despite this long ass conversation, there went my morning. GREAT LISTS!
posted by indiebass at 11:05 AM on March 14, 2005


Hey, if any of y'all happen to check back in here, as to the family-role/stereotype discussion, I just got the Incredibles DVD, and there's some interesting stuff very pertinent to that in the scenes that were deleted and Brad Bird's explication of them. It's made me reconsider some of the tossed-off lines in the actual movie. Recommended.
posted by soyjoy at 9:35 PM on March 15, 2005


Soyjoy-- I watched the Alternate Opening on the DVD set the other day, and IMHO, that was a much better opening- both of the Parrs have an investment in their family and their shared pasts as superheroes. (But sadly, since the denoument was scary instead of funny, I understand why they cut it. I don't like it, but I understand.)

I haven't watched any of the deleted scenes yet-- we also got the Spongebob movie and the Toddler has made her under-the-sea, living-in-a-pineapple preferences known.
posted by headspace at 7:06 AM on March 21, 2005


Personally, I got a kick out of the sock-puppet version in one of the easter eggs on the second disk.

"Let's go save some people!"

A few minutes later: "Let's not do that again!"

And the car Bob was forced to drive. Dang, but that looked like a Fiat 128 I had, washed and dried in hot water and shrunk down 35%...

JB
posted by JB71 at 12:08 PM on March 21, 2005


Instead of noting all the ways it's *not* a superhero movie, ponder why a man of such strength and former physical activity has chosen to work as an insurance adjuster instead of as a PE teacher.

What a strange suggestion. He's not a PE teacher because he didn't have to work to gain his abilities; like his wife and children, he was born with them. His students would be quite uninspired watching their teacher demonstrate acts that they could never hope to perform so well.

But then, maybe that answer just doesn't appeal to those who would rather not think of The Incredibles as a superhero movie.
posted by bingo at 3:31 PM on April 2, 2005


« Older Hand bookbindings....  |  With The Evangelical Air Force... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments