The Incredibles: Big fish in a depleted pond

Where have all the family films gone?

By Steven D. Greydanus

The Incredibles is terrific — terrific enough that it would be a contender for the year’s best family film in nearly any year.

Right now, it just about owns the field.

Let’s face it: So far, it’s been a lousy year for family films. Until now, the fine Two Brothers has been just about the only bright spot. Of course DreamWorks’ phonetically similar CGI twins Shrek 2 and Shark Tale each made far more money than Two Brothers, but neither is quite what I consider fine family viewing. And other choices have been forgettable and quickly forgotten: Home on the Range, Clifford’s Really Big Movie, Good Boy!

Compare that to last year’s crop: Finding Nemo, Holes, Peter Pan, Cheaper by the Dozen, Winged Migration, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Elf, and others. Then the year before there was The Rookie, Stuart Little 2, Lilo & Stitch, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, Powerpuff Girls, Return to Never Land, Tuck Everlasting, Treasure Planet, and more.

Finally, though, relief is in sight. This week The Incredibles takes theaters by storm. Next week, Warner Bros will counter with another computer-animated family film, The Polar Express. The following week cel animation gets a chance with The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Then the last week in November comes the live-action Christmas with the Kranks.

I understand saving prestige pictures for the end of the year, when they’re more likely to win awards. But why have the studios been starving family audiences all year? Consider that Shark Tale was the number one film at the box office for three straight weeks. If that doesn’t prove that parents are desperate, I don’t know what would.

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