There are a hundred ways to measure what makes a great movie, but nothing speaks more highly about a film than how closely you can read it. In his new feature, Deadshirt Editor-In-Chief Dylan Roth explores one of his favorite films by demonstrating just how much there is to talk about, writing at length about Every Five Minutes of runtime.
Written and Directed by Brad Bird
(c) 2004 Disney/Pixar
The Cleaner (29:26-30:21)
This may be the first time the audience has seen Bob blow his cover, but it’s far from the first time he’s done it. With the despicable Mr. Huph in a full body cast, the task of burying this incident falls to Agent Rick Dicker (voice of longtime Pixar animator Bud Luckey), who is getting too old for this shit. Bob and Agent Dicker go way back, and each time Bob has slipped up, it’s been Dicker who’s paid out settlements, had memories altered, and arranged new cover identities for the Parr family. But this, says Decker, is the last time the government is going to foot the bill for this kind of mishap. Dicker takes care of Huph and Insuracare, but for the rest, Bob’s on his own, which leaves him unemployed and without the NSA’s safety net. Bob has only himself to blame, of course, and that’s finally starting to sink in.
It’s a quiet little scene, one of only two to feature Agent Dicker, who represents the Old Days by being, well, old. Bob and Helen were fairly young when they were forced to retire, but Bob looks (and sounds) like he’s well into his sixties, and that the task of looking after the hidden superheroes has taken a toll on him. Dicker physically embodies the consequences of Bob’s recklessness, and while Bob had shrugged off Helen’s concern from the night before, when face to face with the guy whose job it is to clean up his mess, Bob’s a bit more apologetic. (Although he does not, technically, apologize.)
“Well, what are you waiting for?” (30:22-30:42)
Bob returns home in his tiny, mangled car, which sputters to its death in the driveway. Waiting at the curb is that kid with the tricycle from earlier, the one who saw Bob effortlessly left the car over his head the day before. The kid got a peek into a world that ended before he was born, and now he wants another look. But Bob can’t offer him one. He sulks and heads inside.
This is the entire first act of The Incredibles in twenty seconds.
Midnight at the Mr. Incredible Museum (30:43-34:03)
In this dark moment, Bob retreats to his private home office, surrounded by reminders of his best self. Today, it probably offers him very little comfort—he’s never been further away from being Mr. Incredible than he is right now. He sifts through a box containing his Insuracare belongings before just deciding to dump the whole thing in the trash, but an unexpected clang into the wastebasket invites him to open up a mysterious unmarked envelope. Inside is a futuristic computer tablet, which scans his face…and recognizes him as Mr. Incredible.
Bob panics as he hears his old name spoken aloud, but in just a moment he’s greeted by a recorded message of Mirage, the sneaky silhouette that had appeared in his office earlier. Mirage’s calm, charming demeanor reels Bob in, as she makes him an offer he can’t refuse: she says she represents a dark government agency who needs Mr. Incredible’s help to neutralize an experimental robot that’s running wild on a remote island base. It’s an opportunity to return to action—isolated from the judgmental public and with Uncle Sam’s blessing—and what’s more, it’s a paying gig, in fact it pays outrageously well.
Suddenly, the Mr. Incredible Museum feels like a different place entirely—instead of a sad reminder of what Bob used to be, now it’s a vision board, a call to action.
This inspiring moment is interrupted in cartoonish fashion, however, when the tablet self-destructs Inspector Gadget style. Billows of smoke fill the room and set off the Parr residence’s surprisingly thorough fire suppression system. Ceiling-embedded sprinklers spray down across the entire house, fairly literally raining on Bob’s tiny parade.
Cut to Bob using a hair dryer to air out the family’s book collection after the sprinkler mishap. It’s here that we learn that Bob hasn’t told Helen about having lost his job. He seems as if he’s about to tell her, but rather accept a dressing down from his wife for getting himself fired for doing the exact thing that she asked him not to do only a few hours earlier, pivots to a comforting, bald-faced lie. Bob tells Helen that he’s being sent on a company retreat for a few days, a sign that he’s moving up in the company rather than out of it.
As Helen congratulates him on his hard work paying off, Bob goes sort of blank, emotionally limp. The combination of Craig T. Nelson’s nuanced vocal performance and the animators’ attention to detail conveys a lot of what’s going through Bob’s mind at this moment. It’s a chain of complex feelings: “I can’t believe I just avoided an argument,” then “I can’t believe I just told a big lie to my wife,” followed by “I can’t believe how easy that was.” Bob lets go of the guilt over what’s happened today effortlessly and immediately. He really shouldn’t, but he’s about to be too occupied to think about it, diving headfirst back into his old life.
Moments later, in his office:
Next week: Nomanisan!
Check back next week for another installment of Every Five Minutes: The Incredibles. Screencaps are from DisneyScreencaps.com; the screenplay to The Incredibles can be found here.