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Saturday Matinee

Saturday Matinee #70, Super Heroes Week: "Jack-Jack Attack" (March 15, 2005) - published May 5, 2012

by Albert Gutierrez

Bob: What are you waiting for?

Kid: I don't know. Something amazing, I guess.

This week on Saturday Matinee, we continue our Super Heroes week by checking out the youngest member of The Incredibles to don a mask and cape -

"NO CAPES!" Edna Mode interrupts.

Sorry, Edna. I forgot that they weren't very practical. Anyway, cue the dramatic music...

The 2005 short film "Jack-Jack Attack" gave us a further look at the powers and abilities of Jack-Jack Parr, the youngest and strongest member of the Parr family. It was first included on the DVD release of The Incredibles, and serves as both a standalone short, and a "deleted scene" of sorts. While the short itself was never intended to be edited into the film itself, it provides exposition for little Jack-Jack that is hinted at in the rest of the film. After Frozone, Jack-Jack is my favorite character in the film. Partly because of his variety of powers, and partly because his name is so pleasantly redundant, like couscous or mahi-mahi. In addition, one of my good friends from my 2005 College Program was named Jason, but he went by "Jack," which led to the nickname Jack-Jack thanks to The Incredibles. But let's get back to the short...

The short begins in an interrogation room. Mr. Dicker, an agent in the National Supers Agency, is questioning Kari the Babysitter on what transpired during her weekend at the Parr house. She tells him how she thinks she's in for a pleasant weekend with Violet's baby brother. Kari is eager to share flash cards and building blocks with the boy, but immediately runs into trouble. Jack-Jack never seems to be in the same place she left him, and she soon sees him flying about, teleporting from room to room, and setting himself on fire. So much for a pleasant weekend.

Eventually, Kari is standing guard with a fire extinguisher and mirror, just in case Jack-Jack sets himself on fire or shoots at her with his laser eyes. She's exhausted, scared, and a little crazier than when we first met her. Fortunately, the new sitter arrives - a guy with fiery red hair, large "S" on his chest, and a cape. Mr. Dicker can't believe Kari just willingly gave Jack-Jack away, and he sets up a special device that will help erase the weekend from her memory.

Jack-Jack's powers are quite amazing, especially since he has more than one. He can fly, teleport, shoot lasers, or set himself on fire. And that doesn't even include his "you won't like me when I'm angry" Hulk-type mode. It's like his genes had a field day when they were forming. Within the narrative of The Incredibles, all these powers make up for the earlier assumptions of the character. Teenage daughter Violet thinks the family's powers are an abnormality, and complains that the only normal one in the family is Jack-Jack - "and he's not even toilet trained!" she'd continue. Edna Mode, not knowing if Jack-Jack had any powers, makes a supersuit able to handle anything - and appropriately, they handle all of his powers. Ultimately, Syndrome's desire to raise Jack-Jack to become a supervillain is his undoing, as unhappy Jack-Jack pretty much thrashes Syndrome. Plus, the guy was wearing a cape.

The Blu-Ray for The Incredibles includes a special viewing mode for the short, where director Brad Bird, Pixar animator Bret Parker (also the voice of Kari), and story artists Teddy Newton and Mark Andrews talk about the short through picture-in-picture commentary. They share some great production details about the short, such as various gags that were not used (because children might imitate them), recording the dialogue with Jason Lee, and unused ideas that didn't make it into the film, but were utilized in this short. The group keep the commentary going non-stop, with Mark Andrews being the loudest, while Brad Bird seems to hold control over them all. In addition to the commentary, we see various behind-the-scenes footage, design sketches, and storyboards related to the short or what the group are talking about.

The Incredibles is available on both DVD (released in 2005) and Blu-Ray (released in 2011). Depending on which home media format you support, either version is highly recommended. The discs are filled to the brim with plenty of extras, and the film is given a spectacular a/v transfer direct from the digital source. It's one of my favorite DVD/Blu-Ray sets from Pixar, not only for the abundance of extras, but for the quality within those extras. "The Making of The Incredibles" is one of the best DVD documentaries I've seen, offering serious analysis of filmmaking along with the fun and lighthearted nature of a very intense production. There are a variety of easter eggs well worth the hunt, along with additional featurettes, deleted scenes, and galleries that go further into the making of the film. In addition, you can't go wrong with one of the craziest extras ever made: "Mr. Incredible and Pals." I'll cover that on a future Saturday Matinee, but will leave you with this image:

 

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