Studio: Disney/Pixar (released Oct. 17)
Storyline: In a world where superheroes have been forced into hiding by lawsuits and a culture of mediocrity, middle-age Bob Parr, aka Mr. Incredible, tries moonlighting as a hero again, only to fall into a trap that threatens his life and those of his superhero wife and superpowered kids.
About the script: Bird’s rich screenplay blends the cool of ’60s spy movies and the verve of superhero movie adventures with family comedy and tongue-in-cheek gripes about the problems of balancing home life and career. He started with the idea of a past-his-prime superhero, “the kind of guy who’s the star athlete in high school and whose career peaks early on.” As Bird married and had children, he found himself torn between family and career. “I was feeling that to succeed at one I had to fail at the other and I didn’t want to fail at either one. That tension is what made me return to the story over and over again.”
Biggest challenge: “Taking a genre that’s the most trodden-over turf there is and making it fresh and fun, without winking at the audience, making it sincere,” says Bird.
Breakthrough idea: Making the film a sort of a yin and yang between the mundane and the fantastic,” says Bird. “For example, Mom using all those powers to sneak into the bad guy’s secret base, but when she catches a look at herself in the mirror she can’t help looking at her butt and thinking it’s gotten a little larger.”
Standout scene: When the villain’s evil robot attacks and the Incredibles’ superhero friend Frozone wants to join the fight, only to find that his wife has hidden his supersuit because they have dinner plans. “To her, saving the populace is the usual,” says Bird. ” ‘Don’t you think about doing that. We have plans.’ ”
Choice lines: Mr. Incredible, from the prologue, in a news interview: “No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved for a little bit.”
Writer’s bio: After finishing his first animated film at 13, Bird was mentored by legendary Disney animator Milt Kahl. He has directed several episodes of “The Simpsons” and directed and co-wrote the 1999 animated feature “The Iron Giant.”