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Well, obviously! Their new uniforms are red...

I haven't been doing much by way of movie reviews lately, due mostly to the fact that I haven't been going to see movies lately. I did get out with a couple of friends two weekends ago, though, to see The Incredibles. It was quite good, both from a technical perspective and as a superhero movie that manages to present broadly in terms of audience.

I really hadn't planned on writing about it, though, until I came across Andrew Sullivan's review of it over at the New Republic site. I have a lot of respect for Sullivan normally, but his review, I must admit, pissed me off a bit. There's nothing wrong with treating comics, cartoons, et al. seriously, but his review was of the "think globally, nitpick locally" variety. That is, he looks at The Incredibles and Team America basically as a pretext for explaining (AGAIN) just how it is that the lib-elites are out of touch with mainstream America:

The Incredibles in some ways portrays normal American life as stultifying. Its brutal parody of family squabbles is by no means an encomium to traditionalism. It's not anti-family, of course. But it is pro-talent and pro-opportunity. It is in favor of the urge to get out there and achieve things without apology. Within the right-left rubric of American cultural discourse, the movie is therefore rightward-tilting. And that's why many critics on the left have decried it.

Because, of course, they couldn't decry it for its "less inventive" characters, its "more contrived" plot, or the fact that "its jokes [are] less wry." Yes, only critics on the right (hunh?) are capable of treating a movie as a movie, rather than the localized expression of an overly simplistic and largely rhetorical dichotomy foisted upon them by the news spindustry. And goodness knows, no critic on the left could get on board with a movie whose villain attempts to win the support of an unsuspecting populace by propping up a fake enemy and then posing as a hero by claiming he's the only one who can keep us safe. I mean, that's just too fantastic to be believed!

Oh darn. Was that a spoiler?

Nor could any critic on the left place The Incredibles in a cultural context other than "Pixar films," because to do so might be to connect them with a fairly substantial tradition of "post-superhero superhero comix," including books like Moore's Watchmen, Miller's Dark Knight Returns, or more recently, Bendis's Powers, because, you know, to do so would be to buy into the implicit post-superhero critique of the kind of jingoistic, blind optimism that is often associated with so-called Golden Ages, a critique that Incredibles largely abandons in favor of a story about a single middle-aged hero who learns that his mid-life crisis isn't such a crisis after all. But then, placing it in that context makes it tough to claim, as Sullivan does, that

The fundamental moral of the movie is that this restraint is wrong and needs to be overcome: Letting the talented earn the proud rewards of their labor, and the fruits of their destiny, harms no one and actually helps those in the greatest need.

Except that, of course, there are two major restraints in the movie, and the one that Sullivan ignores here is the family. By the end, Mr. I's attitude is most certainly not that he should "overcome" them, but instead accept that his power doesn't exempt him from the same set of responsibilities as the rest of us. He learns that he's responsible for people beyond himself, and that his selfishness placed his family in danger.

Then again, what do I know? I'm not very good at spinning a web of rationalized, psuedo-Nietzsche Shrugged, trickle-down fantasies. All I know is that none of the above had to do with whether or not I enjoyed the movie. I thought it was very clever, exceptionally designed, and that it probably skews a little older than Pixar's earlier movies. I recommend it, and more to the point, I suppose, I recommend avoiding any reviewer who thinks it useful to label movies red or blue.


You are good. Very good. I did "notice" the shift from blue suit to red suit, but only because I am tainted by the ever-brewing, melting pot of a City that just won't let the election "red v. blue" stuff go. Not that I like the results, but it's time to move into action not more isolating finger-pointing. I thought the movie was fun, if not a total James Bond/The Saint/Marvel Comic rip-off of a plot.