Cinema Signal:

Finding Nemo
A 2-disk set

. "The Incredibles"

"Finding Nemo" step aside! Pixar has done it again. And, it's a good thing for the entertainment starved people out there that animation writer-director Brad Bird hung in for another try after his weak-kneed "Iron Giant," which didn't appear to be such a crowd pleaser. Do these folks know how to put a blazing action adventure story together, or what?! The Pixar producers and other team geniuses have the formula down, and it's anything but formulaic.

What formula does underlying a superbly crafted animated comedy is simply good storytelling, starting with a central character we can get thoroughly involved with, and in and creating zippingly good action with a human twist. Immensely well-thought out conflict choreography and eye-pleasing visual design doesn't hurt.

This guy, big Bob Parr, aka Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) starts out as a superhero among superheros, with an obsession to save people and send bad guys behind bars. We immediately note his heartfelt good and... that he's just a tad overzealous about it.

His peers include Parr's pal Lucius Best, aka the icemaking Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) who shares his do-goodism, and Helen, aka, Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), with whom he argues over whom to credit for the apprehension of yet another elusive perp, as though they're starved for good deed recognition. But, hey, it's all in good fun, we find out, since Bob and Helen have an important date later.

Bob is also hounded by fans and the most boisterous of them is an obnoxious little groupie with big hair who wants to set himself up as Mr. Incredible's "ward," costume and all. But, Bob ain't havin' it. He's got more important things to do, like the conquest of a crime wave. But this is not an ordinary rejection, either, as he'll learn later.

Any case, superhero rescues cause collateral city damage which gets out of hand and the politicians enter the picture. Soon, it becomes unlawful for these characters with special strengths to practice their craft. The result is that Bob and his fellow "supers" are banned from the skies and alleys and banished to the Superhero protection program.

Whereupon we pick the story up a few years later where banishment to the 'burbs finds Bob as a very poorly adjusted insurance adjuster. Civilian domesticity includes Helen, aka Elastigirl Parr, by now his faithful rule-enforcing wife, and their 3 little superheros in development. There's teenage Violet who can disappear herself in parts and throw protection shields when her energy level and mental control are up to it; their pre-teener who can move so fast he's nearly invisible to a security camera; and baby, whose speciality has yet to reveal itself.

All of which will be put to the test when Mirage (Elizabeth Pena) invites Bob to re-don his costume for some action on a remote idland that turns out to be the evil lair of Syndrome (Jason Lee), that big hair fan from yesteryear who, though not a true superhero, has scientifically and demonically devised machines and apparati that even a superhero has real difficulties with. This little Jack Black type demon has re-invented himself as a most worthy pain-in-the-ass nemesis for the big guy.

Taking on the functions of "Q" is Edna Mode (voiced by the writer-director himself, Brad Bird), a gal who, instead of outfitting 007 with a high concept arsenal for his assignment, looks after the super suits which she designs to match the superhero. She does this with great care, elan and perfect appropriateness.

All of which, again, is in an envelope of high paced action, supercleaned language (for the "Nemo" contingents), rib-tickled, jaw-dropped, violence-enwrapped, non-stop inventiveness. It has everything to muscle its way into your admiration: last millisecond escapes, kids subverting the bad guys with their special skills, and homey values to make a soccer mom proud.

The casting is another part of that Pixar genius and, while there isn't a weak larynx in the bunch, the special qualities of Holly Hunter's voice and delivery style is a marvel that's only been awaiting such a knockout opportunity. She does for this boxoffice heavyweight what Ellen Degeneres did with equal singularity for "Nero."

This is the comics of the 21st century, in the fullest realization of the term. If you don't love it I've got a nice flat for you on Mars. Meanwhile, records for boxoffice receipts look out. There's a new bonanza on the block.

Oh, for a piece of it...!

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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Well written
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                                                   ~~ Basiledes
Well written
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I totally agree! PIXAR ROCKS!!!!!!!

                                                   ~~ LaFonda

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Bob and Helen Parr
A pair of domestics in the superhero protection program.

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