Superhuman effort pays off |

Superhuman effort pays off

Theory: We personalize movies that filmmakers mass-produce by identifying with certain scenes.One of the stranger ways we identify with them is everyone has a scene or two that’s impossible to watch. It could be the infamous “them panties” scene in “Deliverance,” the egg-eating in “Cool Hand Luke,” the adrenaline shot in “Pulp Fiction” or – one I call my own – Mikey leaving repeated messages on Nikki’s answering machine in “Swingers,” but most moviegoers I’ve met seem to have one that makes them leave the room.

“The Incredibles” reminded me of this because, while I thoroughly enjoyed the newest release as much as the rest of the Pixar canon, I can’t recommend the PG-rated movie to my mom (who took me to see “European Vacation” when I was 11) because of her moviegoing peculiarity: She can’t stand to see kids in danger.Never mind for a moment that the bullets, bombs and blades the animated Parr family faces in “The Incredibles” teach lessons about love, character and gumption. And never mind that the violence is standard cartoon fare – “The Incredibles” can be surprisingly intense if you’re used to Pixar’s delicate treatment of its creations in “Toy Story” or “Monsters, Inc.”I guess it depends on what movies you’re used to, though. The last time I watched an animated movie, “Shark Tale,” it kowtowed to convention and cliché. (Kimberly might still say it was a “parody.”) So maybe it set me up to like “The Incredibles.”

Still, it’s gutsy to spurn Spider-Man and the rest of the known comic-book universe in favor of its own ideology. And calling the results of “The Incredibles” anything but brilliant parody probably sells it short.The setup is a sendup as good as any system of superhero mythology this side of Michael Chabon’s “Kavalier & Clay”: Lawsuit-happy society forces superheroes (who get pretty good names this time, such as Frozone and Gazerbeam) to quit or go underground, which is where moviegoers find Mr. Incredible (voice acting by Craig T. Nelson of “Coach”) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter).

Of course, the retired superheros face the temptation and adventure of fighting crime – otherwise, “The Incredibles” wouldn’t have the nimble, surprising plot that makes it feel like an animated short rather than a full-length film. Ultimately, it clocks in at two hours, but “The Incredibles” bucks cliché by being as fast as a speeding bullet – albeit one that moves in more directions and touches on more nerves than the projectile from the Kennedy assassination.Dan Thomas labors under the impression that “Swingers” is a superhero movie.

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