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September 07, 2005 - Image 45

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2005 - 3D
Disney's latest smash
hit is simply 'Incredible'

By Zach Borden
NOVEMBER 5,2005
Daily Staff Writer

Known for single-handedly creating the genre of
computer-animated movies with the groundbreaking
"Toy Story" nine years ago, Pixar has had a consider-
able rise since Buzz and Woody
took the world by storm. Now a
recognizable brand name asso- The
ciated with spectacular fam- lncredibles
ily films, it would seem nearly
impossible for the studio to craft Disney
a worthy follow-up to its beloved,
Oscar-winning smash "Finding Nemo." Somehow
Pixar outdid itself again. The studio's latest offering,
"The Incredibles," is a consistently entertaining effort
that not only ranks as one of the studio's best, but as
one of 2004's top movies.
Mr. Incredible, whose secret identity is Bob Parr
(Craig T. Nelson, TV's "Coach"), used to be one of
the most popular "supers" (superheroes) around. With
a fervor for fighting crime and helping the innocent,
Mr. Incredible's life - as well as the lives of his pow-
ered peers - came to an abrupt halt after a series of
lawsuits from the public. Forced into a witness protec-
tion program by the government, these once admired
heroes had no choice but to become regular, ordinary
citizens. Fifteen years after hanging up his supersuit
for good, Bob leads a boring life in the suburbs with
his family and works as an insurance claims adjuster.
Despite the support from his wife Helen (Holly Hunt-
er) and their three children, Bob can't help but feel dis-
appointed that the glory days are gone. However, Bob
soon begins to receive secret messages that give him
the chance to fight crime again.
Written and directed under the sharp eye of Brad
Bird ("The Iron Giant"), "The Incredibles" gets it right
by refusing to stray from Pixar's well-tested formula.
The movie's most important elements are its unique,
well-developed characters and an intricate, original

storyline. Bird ensures that the film flows smoothly, as
each scene means something in relation to the charac-
ters' lives or the plot as a whole. From the brilliant pro-
logue to the incredibly engrossing finale, Bird hones
a consistent tone throughout that is filled with humor,
excitement and a pure heart.
Surprisingly, "The Incredibles" represents an evo-
lution of Pixar's conventions and the animation genre
in the best possible sense. This is clearly Pixar's most
mature film to date. Other than the jaw-dropping, bril-
liantly staged action sequences that rival live-action
blockbusters, "The Incredibles" doesn't shy away
from more adult material that will fly right over the
heads of kids. Other than the subtle sexual innuendo,
the more human problems the Parrs face probably
won't register with younger audiences. Thankfully
though, the story offers universal themes such as
the importance of family without being preachy or
overbearing. Moreover, the laughs are clever and fit
organically into the film's story. It's very refreshing
to have an animated movie where the humor isn't just
pop culture references.
One of Pixar's trademarks is casting distinct voice
talent with actors that are able to disappear into their
roles, instead of having well-known voices that are
recognizable and distracting. Nelson fits the bill per-
fectly as Bob. Embodying the character's strength and
confidence when he becomes Mr. Incredible, Nelson
also makes the protagonist melancholy and vulnerable
when he's just a regular guy. Holly Hunter's warm, dis-
tinct voice works remarkably well as Helen; and Jason
Lee is an inspired choice to play Syndrome, nailing the
villain's voice with much passion and enthusiasm.
At nearly two hours, "The Incredibles" is Pixar's
longest film yet. Unfortunately, the time goes by way
too fast - it's impossible not to get sucked in by what
the film has to offer. What makes "The Incredibles" so
satisfying is that it really has something for everybody,
anchored by a meaningful narrative that is always
exciting and never drags. While the holiday season is a
competitive time for family movies, it is hard to imag-
ine that there will be a more engaging, fun and creative
film for all ages this year.

Courtesy of Paramount

Gary! Act your way past those guards!

GO AMERICA!
PUPPET SATIRE 'TEAM AMERICA ATTACKS BOTH LEFT AND RIGHT

By Ian Dickinson
OCTOBER 15, 2004
Daily Staff Writer
MIE*
Within 10 minutes, "Team America:
World Police," the puppet-show satire from
"South Park" creators Trey Parker and
Matt Stone, offends just
about everyone with its
mixture of wry wit and Team
hilariously gratuitous America:
xenophobia. Parker World Police
and Stone skewer both Paramount
American jingoism and
bleeding-heart liberal-
ism without remorse for anyone, least of
all the French.
Confronted by a new axis led by the
diminutive Kim Jong 11 (voiced by Parker),
Team America (a hybrid of the CIA and
the "Thunderbirds" television series) hires
a Broadway actor, Gary (Parker), to infil-
trate a cabal consisting of Muslim jihad-
ists, the North Korean government and
Alec Baldwin to put a stop to the prolifera-
tion of weapons of mass destruction under
Kim's control.
As is typical in excellent satire, "Team
America" leaves no target unscathed.

Though some may argue that the film
is unnecessarily harsh on the "Holly-
wood left," the focus is consistently on
the haphazard actions of the dimwitted
Team America, which manages to destroy
every important French landmark in a
Paris operation during the film's opening
sequence.
"Team America's" genius lies in its
expressed political apathy. Parker and
Stone have no agenda beyond their own
clever brand of gross-out humor, and while
Michael Moore is portrayed as a suicide
bomber, Team America is little more than
a collection of vodka-swilling soap opera
stars whose battles against terrorists are
accompanied by obnoxiously patriotic
country music.
"Team America" is also aided by Parker
and Stone's dedication to frivolity. While
many comedies seek to attain artistic cred-
ibility in spite of their adherence to crude
humor, Parker and Stone unabashedly
embrace their trademark brand of toilet
humor: In a parody of the musical "Rent,"
Gary sings irreverently about AIDS. For
some reason, the viewer can't help but
laugh at its absurdity. Parker and Stone
simply don't care, and they remind the
audience, via a regular barrage of political
incorrectness, that their film shouldn't be

taken any more seriously than an episode
of "South Park."
Unfortunately, because "Team America"
is such an accurate, if cheeky, portrayal of
the world today (Kim Jong I must be a
foul-mouthed Bond villain, after all), the
never-ending series of gags frustrates the
viewer. At times, the film veers away from
satire and merely seeks to offend without
purpose. After all, how many jokes about
the way Asians speak English does a film
really need?
Parker and Stone embrace the film's
medium, quite well, however, and the use
of puppets is a testament to the creators's
originality and creativity. The puppets
aren't blatant or trite symbols for some-
thing more meaningful, but rather con-
duits for additional humor. Parker and
Stone aren't hindered by the marionettes,
as they are made mobile enough to kill and
maim each other, as well as engage in sex-
ual intercourse - essential to any Parker/
Stone vehicle.
"Team America" amounts to little more
than a puerile explanation of internation-
al politics, which makes it so wonderful.
While long-winded political documen-
taries pollute theaters across the nation,
"Team America" represents a refreshing,
if crude, alternative.

Courtesy of Acivision

Oh no, someone let Michael Moore loose.

Pitt and Jolie are white-hot
grease fires of entertainment

By Jeffrey Bloomer
JUNE 13, 2005
Daily StaffWriter

The most extravagant scene of the
tongue-in-cheek "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" has
its title spouses, played with no reserve
by Brad Pitt and
Angelina Jolie, vio-
lently duking it out MC Mrs.
and destroying just Smith
about every inch of 20th Century Fox
their McMansion.
They attempt to poi-
son, stab, shoot and just plain beat the hell
out of each other, all with a joyous allure.
The scene, a turning point in the gleefully
over-plotted film that unapologetically
consumes a fifth of its running time, is
about one high-tech gadget and self-con-
scious punch line short of total camp.
And if you think about it, "Mr. & Mrs.
Smith," in all of its deliriously over-the-
top glory, works on much the same level:
Its mix of self-referential irony and wall-
to-wall CGI action is almost completely
zany, but still, it's all great fun. Even with
its technical prowess and the consider-
able skill of director Doug Liman ("The
Bourne Supremacy"), though, the film

wouldn't even be able to approximate its
feel-good, escapist charm without Pitt and
Jolie in the leads. Forget the gossip rags,
the loss of Hollywood's prize A-list couple
and the fact that they showed up to the pre-
miere separately: just sit back and enjoy
the show. Pitt and Jolie have an exuber-
ant sexuality between them that not only
steals the show but keeps the movie afloat
through all of its bouts into nonsensical
bombast. They aren't just the stars of the
movie - for all intents and purposes, they
are the movie.
The good news, then, is that the film is
fully aware of its headliners' importance
and, for the most part, just lets them do their
thing. Students of the comedic marriage-
on-the-rocks movie will have little trouble
recognizing the setup: A bored, humdrum
suburban couple, nose deep in five - wait,
six - years of marriage, sleepwalks their
way through dinnertime interaction and
couples' therapy, where their therapist's
inquiry into the number of times they have
sex in a week results in a bemused "I don't
understand the question."
Ah, yes, but when they discover that
they are actually rival high-priced assas-
sins who just got hired to kill each other,
their furious standoffs result in, basically,
some great sex and the total reinvigora-
tion of their hapless union. Consider:

Before they figure each other out, their
most involved discussion on a typical eve-
ning is over the aesthetic of new curtains.
Afterward, they amorally exchange their
"numbers," which, no, is not their sexual
histories. They swap the number of people
they've killed on the job (Jolie's 312 runs
at about five times that of Pitt's "low 60s,"
but then it would, wouldn't it?).
"Mr. & Mrs. Smith" is above all a
crowd-pleaser that's clever and ener-
getic enough to help audiences overlook
its flaws. Like the realization that the
action sequences are expensive and busy
but mostly empty-headed. Like the fact
that the aforementioned domestic scene
is lifted from the edgier "War of the
Roses," along with a faux-stripper farce
(with a supremely leathered-up Jolie
standing in for Jamie Lee Curtis's cock-
tail dress-clad housewife) and a cheeky
dance scene that distinctly recall "True
Lies." But call it derivative; call it mental
masturbation for tabloid mongers - the
fact remains that "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"
triumphs because of the fervent sexual
chemistry between its stars. The movie
will doubtlessly inspire other, lesser
vehicles featuring sensationalized celeb-
rity couples, but think of it: A movie
where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes try
to off each other? Now that would sell.

05 06
127tnus sao
UMS 1/2 Price
Student Ticket Sale!
Your chance to get CHEAP TICKETS to see
the world's best music, dance and theater!

September 17
am -12 noon
ower Center

"Absolutely Hysterical" - Michigan Daily
I C "Best Local Comedy Troupe" - RealDetroit

call 734-764-2538 or stop by the
Michigan League Ticket Of
for more details
check out our season online at
www.ums.org

.....................~. ..CG'
6 .v,.v.:.,. N .x.,
,....' I' .""""

For one day only at the beginning of each semester, UMS offers HALF-PRICE TICKETS
to students. This extremely popular event draws hundreds of students every year. Some
performances have a limited number of tickets available, so get there early!
How does the Half-Price Sale work? It's easy! Just make your way to the Power Center
that mnninn nrlIv/it in ina toraraivrn' cae, antin;.Ikx im ra ar rrlAtrfo~rm Fillit +rit by

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