Sunday, September 13, 2015

#42Movies, Day 3: We Can Be Heroes

Finding your favorite cover of the Bowie tune is left as an exercise for the reader. Meanwhile, let's talk about...

The Specials (2000)
The Incredibles (2004)

Astute readers will notice that, like yesterday, I've chosen to feature two relatively recent superhero movies. Again, this is not because I don't love older superhero flicks, like Richard Donner's Superman or Tim Burton's Batman or even Sam Raimi's Darkman. (Seriously, Darkman. Check it out.) It's because I have more specific thoughts right now about these two films.

I first saw The Incredibles at Pixar headquarters in Emeryville—which, as you might expect, has an amazing all-digital theatre, and in 2004 (ten years before all American cinemas went digital), it was stunningly beautiful. I was singing with The Richter Scales at the time, and one of our members who worked at Pixar got us into a private screening. One of the best moviegoing experiences of my life, both in terms of presentation and content.

Full disclosure: I've loved Superman (the character, not any particular incarnation) for as long as I can remember, and perhaps largely because of that was drawn more to DC than Marvel, comics-wise. The good news is that meant I was right there in 1986 when Watchmen changed the world. My original bagged-and-boarded issues are probably still in my parents' garage somewhere.

Incredibles deals with a lot of the same themes and issues as Watchmen, but in a less gruesome and more modern way, and is way more overt about the tropes it's playing with—and I like a good inside joke almost as much as I like terrible puns. I also love that director Brad Bird is able to swing the mood from ridiculously funny all the way over to deadly and back again. It's not quite as deft as It's a Wonderful Life, which often does both in the same scene, but it's still remarkable.

On a smaller scale, The Specials also deconstructs what it means to be a superhero, and because it's a low-budget independent film (written by and co-starring James Gunn, who would go on to direct Guardians of the Galaxy), it's mostly the characters talking to each other about stuff. You know, like normal people. Except their concerns and anxieties are just a little off-kilter, because of who they are.

It's funny, it's a little dark, and it's the first time I can remember seeing a Judy Greer performance (and being instantly charmed by it, of course. Go read her memoir. Or, better, yet, get the audiobook and have her tell you stories like she's your best friend. And then get the paperback edition which has an extra chapter about Archer). It's also the only place you'll see Rob Lowe and Jamie Kennedy compare how tight their pants are. Really. You want to see this movie.

Unlike my friend Bryan, I'm not yet burned out on superhero movies. I'm still enjoying the Marvel flicks, and cautiously optimistic about the upcoming DC slate. Just don't screw up Wonder Woman, guys. Though honestly, I'm more psyched for Supergirl on TV. (It's Supergirl! Every week! SQUEE)


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