Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 16, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

THE INCREDIBLES....I wonder if we could all call a truce in the relentless battle to find political messages in every last corner of popular culture? Sure, Team America had an obvious political spin, but The Incredibles?

I mean, is it really true that "many critics on the left have decried it"? I'll admit I haven't been paying a lot of attention to this topic, but color me skeptical anyway. Many? It's true that a joke about frivolous lawsuits sets up the movie's premise, but that's followed a mere few minutes later by that lefty favorite, a scheming insurance company executive whose only goal in life is to screw his customers out of money they deserve.

And yes, there's some stuff about how everyone should make the most of their talents, but that doesn't strike me as something even extreme lefties would object to. Quite the contrary. What's more, the ending is practically an ode to fairness toward those who are less talented than you.

But the biggest meme from the right seems to be astonishment that the movie features an ordinary, suburban nuclear family. Hurrah!

Now, as it happens, I don't watch a lot of kids' movies. But I saw Toy Story, and it starred a suburban nuclear family. The Simpsons are a suburban nuclear family. Finding Nemo may have been about fish, but it was a father and son pair of fish. Spy Kids featured a nuclear family.

Aren't lots of movies aimed at children like this? Nuclear families, or love stories, or rags-to-riches stories, or the like? With the heroes triumphing over incredible odds? What am I missing? It really doesn't seem like The Incredibles broke any new ground here.

POSTSCRIPT: In case you're curious, I thought The Incredibles was OK, but not great. There's something about the Pixar formula that's getting a little tired, I think. The Incredibles was wry, it was ironic, it had the usual quota of jokes that only adults would get, it had....well, it had all the stuff Pixar movies always have. It was fun, but far from their best.

And Team America? I can't say I wasn't warned: if you don't like South Park, David Adesnik told me, you won't like Team America. And he was right. The first South Park movie is literally the only movie I've ever fallen asleep in, and while I stayed awake for Team America, and even laughed a few times, the Trey Parker/Matt Stone humor formula is just too obvious and forced for my taste. (Which, as the saying goes, there's no accounting for.)

On the other hand, for a cat lover like me, it was kind of funny to watch the scene where they're using a couple of black housecats as stand-ins for vicious puppet-eating panthers....

Kevin Drum 5:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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