The laws of parenthood decree that I will forever be behind the ball when it comes to seeing movies in the theater. I finally saw The Incredibles just yesterday, for example. If you haven’t seen it yet, do—it’s really good, not just in the “nice Pixar animation” sense or the “amusing, clever writing” sense, but in the really good really good sense. The previews made it seem like a loopy superhero movie—what they didn’t convey was that it was a loopy superhero movie all about family.
I can dimly recall the hoary days before I was a father, when my ability to be ironically detached from things was unassailable, when being sardonic came naturally. I would stare, aghast, at the sheer amount of oversentimentality in movies, books, and music. What treacle! The notion of tearing up or being overcome by emotion because of something I saw or read was completely foreign to me.
But apparently parenthood activates some sort of Weepy Gene, at least when it comes to Stuff Happening to Kids. Take, for example (spoilers ahoy), the scene in The Incredibles where Elastagirl is in the little plane with her two kids, and the missiles are homing in, and her daughter is trying to create a force shield but she just can’t and everybody’s scared and then the missiles hit and BOOM!—but then you see that Elastagirl has stretched to make a parachute of herself and she’s holding both of them and they’re floating down in the nick of time . . . she’s saved them, you see, she’s saved her kids, her kids, and I kid you not as I sat there alone in the theater there were tears streaming down my cheeks. Tears! No one told me stuff like this would start happening once I became a parent.
I also found the baby in the movie utterly adorable. “Adorable” is not a word that was even in my vocabulary a year ago. But there it is: adorable. What a cool kid. At the end of the movie you discover that the baby, too, has super powers—he can shapeshift himself into all sorts of things and cause a ruckus.
Which Ella will probably never do. But we can hope.