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TRULY INCREDIBLE

First "Toy Story" -- both I and II. Then "Shrek," "A Bug's Life," "Antz," "Finding Nemo," "Shark Tale." You think, "They're nice and all, but how many of these things can they make before it gets old? In fact, it's already old!"

But let's say you go see "The Incredibles" anyway. You watch a slew of previews, and every single one is for some animated/computerized/clay figure/animatronic kids' movie with a pretense that's either overdone, completely bizarre, or just annoying.

The movie begins. And you forget you're in a theater.

No joke. "The Incredibles" can hold even an adult's attention for all of its 120 minutes.

"The Incredibles" introduces a handful of "supers -- superheroes who save the world one cat, train wreck, and suicide attempt at a time, only to fall from grace with the public, who sue first Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and then others, for allegedly "not wanting to be saved." The government can't afford such lawsuits and orders the "supers" to become "average."

Fifteen years later, we see what's become of the ex-Mr. Incredible -- he's a huge, endearingly annoying, distracted father figure who works a boring job and can only think about being super again. His wife, ex-superhero "Elastigirl" (Holly Hunter), holds her own as a strong woman, yet has the concerns of any real-life wife and mother. Teenage daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell) can create force fields and become invisible, but can't make the boy she likes notice her. Speedy son Dash (Spencer Fox) gets into trouble with teachers and teases his sister incessantly.

When Bob's yearning for "the old days" is mysteriously acknowledged, leading him to dangerous missions, everything seems to be coming up roses. But when danger looms and his wife figures out what he's been doing, a string of action-packed events -- in which the whole Incredible family takes part -- ensues.

While "The Incredibles" may not have you chuckling aloud, it will have you smiling. Shots of Time magazines featuring "Superhero of the Year," spoof documentaries, and Bob's miserly boss (Wallace Shawn) all make use, and fun, of what's familiar to us. Even more important, the action will hold your attention throughout. While the characters are realistic and easy to relate to, they're also in a crazy, and exciting situation -- you can't help but want to know what happens to them. And yet, "The Incredibles" teaches a lesson -- a few, actually. It says, "Don't settle for average when you're actually super," "Don't be afraid of who you are," and, most of all, "Be kind."

What makes "The Incredibles" great is that it's not just make-believe. Its imaginary superheroes and high-speed action are tempered by the portrayal of the "average" side of life, as well as the lessons it teaches. "The Incredibles" may be geared towards kids, but it can be enjoyed by teens and adults, too.

The Incredibles

Review: 3 stars (Out of 4)

Emily Sullivan is a senior at City Honors.