“The Incredibles” is an action-packed animated feature from Pixar that serves up more than your typical cartoon fare. It has the standard good guys, bad guys, crowd-pleasing chases, explosions and gadgets. But in addition to that, this movie has emotional tension. In the midst of all the action is the Parr family. There is Bob (Mr. Incredible), his wife Helen (Elastigirl) and their three children, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack. “The Incredibles” is about this family’s struggle with their superhero identity in a world where superheroes are not accepted.
The struggle for identity occurs in Erikson’s stage number five (identity v. role diffusion). This is a universal developmental task. Even superhero children (Violet can turn invisible and muster a force field; Dash can run very, very fast) have to grapple with who they are and how they fit into the world. Children need an intact and nurturing family to help them with this task. The Parrs are an example of this kind of family.
The Parrs do things together. They fight the dastardly Syndrome, his henchmen and the Omnidroid, together. They attend Dash’s track meet together. They eat dinner together. They also talk to each other. Violet can talk about her insecurities rather than acting out. In a dinner table scene, she tells her mother about her angst about not being normal. In another scene, she confides in her mother her shame at not being able to produce a force field around a plane. Her mother responds that it was all right to fail because Violet hadn’t had that much practice using her force field. This family has it all: love, support and the ability to talk things out.
With guidance from their parents, the children do the work necessary to develop their identity. By practicing their skills, they experience success. In Metroville, Violet and Dash use their superpowers to defeat the bad guys while appreciative onlookers cheer. Mom and Dad hoop and holler as Dash runs in a school track meet. (It’s something he has wanted to do since the opening scenes of the movie). The happy ending is not only that the world is saved from the evil doers, but also that Violet and Dash are finally accepted and celebrated for who they are.
The PG rating is appropriate for this movie. The violence in the action sequences can be unsettling for children. Although there is no blood, characters get hurt and tortured. For example, Violet and Dash fall to earth from an exploding plane. Remember, just because this film is animated, doesn’t mean that the content is safe for all ages.
“The Incredibles” is an incredible movie. It gets an A+ for the action, for the animation and for the story about a not so ordinary family dealing with the ordinary task of raising children.
Review written by Susie Hou, M.D.
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The views expressed in the reviews are those of the member authors and do not reflect those of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.