Opening Friday at the Smith Opera House, “The Incredibles,” a computer-generated animated adventure about retired superheroes, blends action, humor and even a touch of earnest emotion into a dazzling visual package.
Written and directed by “The Simpsons” veteran Brad Bird, the movie follows many of the patterns of his first animated feature, “The Iron Giant.” It has a high-tech feel, lots of activity and a family-friendly PG rating. But it's not aimed exclusively at youngsters. There are many quiet moments, and a number of jokes and references aimed at adults, beginning with a visual style that reflects the 1960s.
The title characters are a family of retired superheroes. The Superman-like Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) and his wife, the former Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), have entered the federal superhero relocation program and assumed the identity of a typical suburban family. Their children have inherited super powers, but they are under orders to keep them under wraps.
Elastigirl, once famous because of her rubbery arms and legs, is quite happy with her new life as Helen Parr, homemaker and PTA member. But her husband is frustrated by the limitations he faces as Bob Parr, a paper-pusher at an insurance company, a job that's not nearly as fulfilling as saving the world from imminent disaster.
Under the guise of joining a bowling league, Bob starts sneaking out of the house to resume his heroic exploits. But life as a middle-aged couch potato has not been kind to his powers. The mass of muscle that once packed his shoulders has relocated as a lump of fat around his waist.
Instead of saving the world, he winds up being the one who needs saving. So Bird borrows a page from “Spy Kids” and sends Elastigirl and the kids, now free to employ their powers, to attempt a rescue.
Bird has filled the movie with references that only adults will get — and attentive ones, at that. When Mr. Incredible needs a new superhero costume to fit his new shape, he turns to a designer modeled after Hollywood legend Edith Head (voiced by Bird). One of the Parrs' kids is named Jack-Jack. And viewers who stick around to read the credits will note that two of the voices were provided by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas (who died in September), a pair of legendary filmmakers who were part of Walt Disney's original stable of animators.
Then, of course, there's the central concept, which is aimed squarely at baby boomers: The superheroes we grew up watching on Saturday morning cartoons have aged right along with us.
The Smith screens “The Incredibles” at 7 p.m. Jan. 14 and 15, at 2 p.m. Jan. 16, at 2 and 7 p.m. Jan. 17, and at 7 p.m. Jan. 18. Rated PG for action violence, this film has a running time of one hour, 45 minutes. All seats are $3. Call 315-781-5483 or toll-free 866-355-5483 for details or to reserve tickets.
The Monday Movie Roundtable meets following the evening screening on Jan. 17. The Smith invites patrons to stay after and participate in insightful discussion about the film lead by The Smith's Arts-in-Education Director RJ Rapoza. The discussion takes place in The Smith's lower-level cabaret.
The Smith Opera House is located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva. The Smith is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the City of Geneva, the Town of Geneva and by contributions from individual supporters.