Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios
Dashiel "Dash" Parr, Violet Parr, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl in the riotously funny "The Incredibles."

"The Incredibles" may have the Disney and Pixar names stamped all over it, but it's a unique animated film, and it's a bit surprising that it comes from the cinematic marriage of those two companies.

In addition to being riotously funny, "The Incredibles" is also extremely exciting.

Which is not to say that other Pixar films haven't had their exciting moments. But this send-up of superhero movies has a decided emphasis on action and contains scenes live-action filmmakers can only dream of.

However, parents should be warned that it is pretty violent for an animated film. Not as violent as something like this summer's PG-13 rated "Spider-Man" sequel. But there are some things that might be a tad intense for very young audiences.

This is also one of the longest animated films in recent memory — with "Boundin'," the amusing, six-minute, computer-animated short that precedes it, the show is two full hours. Yet, it never lags, the audience never loses interest and it's never flabby . . . unlike the film's main character.

That would be Bob Parr, or Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson). Once the most powerful superhero on the planet, he now finds himself working as an insurance adjuster in a world where superheroes have been outlawed, thanks to a flood of personal-injury lawsuits. And he's married to Helen, or Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), who has also retired from public service.

Unbeknownst to Helen, however, Bob has been going out at night and, along with his best pal Lucius Best, or Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), he's been committing random acts of heroism. And now, Bob has gotten an offer to come out of retirement; a mysterious benefactor wants him to test his new combat robot.

As you might guess, there's more to it than that, and Bob winds up being captured by the evil Syndrome (Jason Lee). So it's up to Helen to rescue him. That is, if she can find a sitter, and if she can convince their superpowered children (Spencer Fox and National Public Radio host Sarah Vowell) not to come along for the ride.

As always, the Pixar animation is state-of-the-art. The work done here has more nuances in terms of character design, facial and body expressions, and flow of action than any of Pixar's competitors can muster.

What screenwriter/director Brad Bird has accomplished is more than just a simple homage to comic books and action movies. Observations about the post-nuclear family are very clever, as are the jabs at the insurance industry and the legal system. (Even the unbelievably cool title sequence has to be seen to be believed.)

Which is not to slight the voice cast. Everyone turns in good performances. Nelson sounds like he's having fun, as does Jackson, who gets more than his share of laughs. But it's Hunter who really scores as the harried housewife with superpowers; as always, she's a delight.

"The Incredibles" is rated PG for scenes of animated violence (superhero fisticuffs, robotic attacks, laser blasts and explosive mayhem), vulgarity (some suggestive banter) and scattered use of some mild profanity. Running time: 115 minutes.


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