Written & Directed by Brad Bird
Starring the Voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Sarah Vowell, Spencer Fox
- Running audio commentary by writer/director Bird and producer John Walker
- Running audio commentary by the animation team
- New animated short: “Jack-Jack Attack”
- Bloopers and outtakes
- Deleted scenes and alternate opening
- Making-of featurette plus extended making-of sequences
- Short film: “Boundin'” with running audio commentary by director Bud Luckey
- Bud Luckey featurette
- NSA files on all supers
- New animated short: “Mr. Incredible & Pals” with optional running audio commentary by Mr. Incredible & Frozone
- Featurette: “Vowellet” with voice actor Vowell
- Intros by Bird
Released by: Buena Vista.
My Advice: It’s a Pixar release. What do you think?
Well, folks, I hope you caught this on the big screen, because I’m going to tell you straight up: this was your Fantastic Four movie. Yeah, I know some other film with that name is coming down the pike later this year…but screw that, all signs point to the fact that Avi Arad and company are going to miss the point. But this film understands and positively nails it. It’s one of the best comic book movies I’ve ever seen, and it’s not even adapted from a comic book.
First up, let’s talk about the cast. They’re perfect, as Pixar films are wont to be. Nelson provides the perfect manly (with a sensitive side) voice to Mr. Incredible and Holly Hunter is excellent playing the matriarch who can still kick ass. The kids are great: Sarah Vowell makes for a very capable mopey teen (although she truly shines as herself–more on that shortly) and Spencer Fox is basically Impulse done correctly. Jason Lee is a great villain and Sam Jackson (who’s a comic book freak) is having the time of his life as buddy/friend of the family/Iceman Frozone. There’s not a weak voice in the bunch.
The film is a departure for Pixar for a few reasons. First up, it’s PG and it’s truly meant to be good for both adults and kids. Don’t get me wrong: adults can and do dig the hell out of stuff like Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. But this aimed a little higher on the age chain. That’s why it didn’t do quite as well as the previous films at the box office, but no one with any sense gave a damn.
Second, Brad Bird is in charge. Bird is most famous for delivering a film to Warner Brothers that was so good, they had no idea how to market it and it died a horrible box office death. Bird is the sole credited writer on this thing, which is different from most Pixar flicks in that the usual suspects generally show up to do their thing. The feel is different, but you still know it’s Pixar: mostly because it’s just damn good. And the last major difference is that there’s no real surprises here. By that I mean it’s pretty easy to tell where the film is going, but like good flicks do, it makes you have such a good time you don’t care.
This is not your usual Pixar DVD as far as features go either. First, since we don’t have Lasseter and crew taking part in the commentaries, they’re a lot less enjoyable. Not just because the original Pixar crew laughing and cutting up while they talk about their films is fun, but because it’s chocked full of information. The commentary with Bird and Walker…if you were to just randomly drop in on a certain point in the film, it’s highly likely that you would hear them talking about how hard a particular scene is. Which is fine–in fact, a very humorous moment comes when two-thirds of the way through the film they realize that’s most of what they’ve been talking about and should stop it. Then they start up again two minutes later. And the animators’ commentary is okay, but it’s a legion of people in there and you don’t know who anybody is when they’re talking. And you get the sense that a few people are doing all the talking and some are just sitting there the whole time. Could really have used a few recording sessions and then a good editor to pull it together.
That’s the weakest part of what they have to offer. It’s all uphill from here. The new short is not really a new adventure for anybody than it is an additional scene of what happens to Jack-Jack and the babysitter while the family’s out. The bloopers and outtakes are the usual technical blunders (where somebody’s face has exploded due to GIGO rules) and outtakes that are alternate versions of scenes in the film.
The making-of bits are huge. What’s odd is that there’s a making-of docu that’s thirty minutes long and then there’s a bunch of other making-of bits. Why they didn’t have this all run together is beyond me, seeing as how you’d have to be a trog not to want to watch all of this. But you know you’re in for something special when Bird appears at the outset in some kind of story meeting or something saying, “Do it! Do it! Do it!” And then a member of the crew, armed with an acoustic guitar, sings a song about the 800lb. gorilla making the movie–Brad, of course. And he’s a bit of a loon, as is revealed throughout the course of things. These take you through every step of the process and while it’s not an Ultimate Toy Box level tour, it’s quite worthy.
The short film that preceded the feature in cinemas, “Boundin’,” actually gets better the more you watch it. Not that it wasn’t amusing beforehand. It’s especially nice that they include info with animator Bud Luckey, who basically created and directed the short. There’s commentary and there’s also a featurette telling you about his background. We were stunned to find out he was an animator for early Sesame Street.
The NSA files are a nice bit. Some of them have been lost or erased, but all them of have data cards and most have somebody (no doubt from the Pixar staff) playing the part of the super in a snippet of an interview. Usually amusing and huge points for thinking to include this. One of the highpoints of the features for me is the “Mr. Incredible & Pals” animated short. If you watched stuff like the horrible 60s Spider-Man cartoon, then you’ll know exactly what this is about. Terrible animation–so bad the mouths are actually live action mouths pasted on the animated bodies. And there’s Mr. Skipperdoo, a bunny rabbit with glasses who accompanies Mr. Incredible & Frozone on their mission. And to make it even funnier is a commentary with Mr. Incredible and Frozone, who have never seen the short before. They sold the rights to themselves before they went underground and the cartoon never aired. Ridiculously wonderful.
Sarah Vowell’s featurette wherein she explains how she got involved in the movie to begin with and how she’s working on her latest book–a nationwide tour of sites dealing with assassinations. She’s like the most laid back person with ADD you’ve ever met. And she’s glad to have an action figure of her character, so she can have it to go along with her “toys” of Abraham Lincoln. Hysterical.
There’s a bunch of easter eggs–a bunch. I normally don’t mess with including easter eggs in reviews, but two in particular are just incredible. One is a tribute to all the doors, buttons and explodo that appear in the film, and another is the movie condensed down to a few minutes in length and done with sock puppets. Brilliantly bizarre. I think they should have had a commentary on it with the guy responsible. There’s a ton more, but seek those out. Look for the little robots that appear on menus.
While this DVD isn’t as good as previous Pixar releases in some respects, it’s even funnier and more fun in others. Like Criterion, the worst Pixar DVD you’ve ever had is still pretty good. And this is nowhere near bad, trust me. You need to own this. No excuses. There’s a reason it won as many Chazzies as it did. Pixar DVDs belong on your shelf. That way you can skip the crap comic book movie coming later this year and you can join me in pining for a sequel for this thing.