Incredibles 2 a massive hit at the box office
Following the release of the Incredibles 2 in early July, the film enjoyed ground-breaking success at the box office. According to Variety Magazine, the sequel to the 2004 classic earned a record-breaking $180 million on its opening weekend and a further $51 million on its global debut.
A film that had been encapsulated into the minds of North American children 14 years ago was finally going to be made into a sequel. As someone who had been six at the time of the original film’s theatrical release, I myself had been eagerly awaiting its release and was not disappointed.
Criticism from parents over adult content
While the overall response was positive, there were some online critiques from a plethora of parents upset by the film’s PG rating and momentary use of bad language.
Many parents lamented as well some of the more complex plot lines of the film citing some young children’s boredom during scenes with heavy dialogue.
Brad Bird, the director of both the original and sequel, was keen to dismiss such critiques by reaffirming this film as not exclusively a “kids movie”.
With all due respect, it is NOT a “kids movie”. It is animated, and rated PG. https://t.co/a6tGzoWvzy
— Brad Bird (@BradBirdA113) July 2, 2018
At first glance, his insistence to dispel the notion that the Incredibles 2 was in fact a kids movie seemed to contradict everything Pixar had come to define itself as. However, after some brief thought, it seems obvious that Pixar films were always made for a children’s audience… and beyond
Universal appeal for both adults and children
Like many of us born in the mid-late 1990s, these iconic Pixar films were an integral part of my initial upbringing and introduction to film.
Unlike some other films we saw during our childhood, whose characters and scenes eventually faded from our memory, our images of Frozone from The Incredibles or Rex from Toy Story are as fresh in our minds as they were in 2000.
This is most likely due to Pixar’s cutting age animation, amusing characters, and heartwarming stories that appeal to children audiences like no other. For many, Pixar came to define animated film through its revolutionary advancements in animation software and children’s storytelling.
However, even as a child viewing these classics in theatres, I couldn’t help but notice the larger proportion of adult and adolescent moviegoers. While it was always commonplace for parents to accompany their children to various Disney films, many adults seemed to be just as intrigued as the young kids they accompanied.
I myself was always flabbergasted at my father’s enthusiasm for specifically Pixar films since it contradicted with his profound apathy to any other film I dragged him to as a lad.
In retrospect, it was completely justified considering Pixar’s appeal to any age group despite its primary focus group of young kids.
Pixar uses creative plots as social commentary
As me and many of my generation grew up and re-watched these films, we viewed the film through a different lens than we did before and saw some of the brilliant ways in which the writers tackled societal and cultural concerns.
For example, as children we would have seen The Incredibles as a simple story following the exploits of a superhuman family unit battling an evil villain.
However, the movie also addressed profound societal issues such as the celebration of mediocrity and our discouragement of those with exceptional talents from fully expressing themselves.
No one can forget Dash’s response to our classic societal expression “Everyone is special”.
These profound societal commentaries are not confined to The Incredibles.
In Pixar’s Ratatouille, a rat named Remi, talented in the culinary arts, is forced to hide behind his human friend in order to properly navigate through the difficult and harsh ( and exclusively-human) field of cooking.
This film is a profound metaphor for many artists, cooks, or poets who have faced extreme prejudice simply because they are perceived to be “different.” This had led them to believe that they must hide their racial, ethnic, or gender identity in order to fulfil their dreams.
Now, the ending of the movie Ratatouille addressed just that. Paris’ premier food critic Anton Ego praises Remi and writes in his column that “not everyone can be a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”
This line and the movie’s tone seems to evoke the message that those from marginalized groups can dream and realize their potential as well.
Maintaining a sense of realism
In addition to being ‘woke’, these films appeal to adult audiences through their ability to create a sense of realism.
More often than not, Disney animated films overuse tropes such as the ‘power of magic’ and shy away from genuine reality.
While this may appeal to children, this often leads adult audiences feeling dissatisfied.
Pixar films seem to actively avoid imaginary worlds and magical premises.
In the opening scene of the original Incredibles, Mr. Incredible is able to save a train full of passengers following a bomb blast on the tracks. In the vast majority of children’s stories, he would have been portrayed as a hero for such an action, yet, in a shocking twist he is sued for urban property damages.
Pixar places these superheroes in a realistic portrayal of modern America wherein a culture of constant lawsuits runs rampant.
While this may briefly confuse a young six-year-old (as I was when I first saw it) it allows the film to hold a grasp over adult audiences.
As expected, Incredibles 2 failed to disappoint. And judging by the expressions on the faces of the small children and their parents, Pixar will continue to capture the imagination of children and adults alike for years to come.