THE INCREDIBLES (PG, 115 minutes)
Members of a close-knit family of comic-book-style superheroes defeat villains and, between battles, solve their own hilarious human problems and find their greatest strength among themselves. "The Incredibles" is an ingenious concept for an animated feature and a cool piece of entertainment. Director-writer Brad Bird (with Pixar Animation and Disney) has permanently raised the bar for computer-animated tales.
Unlike such G-rated Pixar films as "Toy Story" (1995), "Monsters, Inc." (2001) and "Finding Nemo" (2003), "The Incredibles" earns its PG for good reason: It contains harrowing action sequences and animated violence that too closely emulate live-action films to be dismissed as mere "cartoon" mayhem. This makes the film more appropriate for kids 7 and older. (It also drags a bit in its overlong third act.) Such kids will get more of the film's multilayered humor, though there are bits that will tickle only older teenagers and grown-ups, as it should be with a family film.
There are scenes that show an attempted suicide jump; gunplay; an evil bomber (named Bomb Voyage); a killer robot shaped like an octopus, its mechanical arms smashing at foes; a super-fast superhero boy chased by lethal flying discs; a volcano seething with molten lava; the captured superhero dad given electric shocks; missile attacks against the superheroes' plane; a scary parachute escape; and the brief kidnapping of a seemingly helpless, crying superhero baby.
In a prologue, we meet Mr. Incredible (voice of Craig T. Nelson), a muscle-bound powerhouse who can leap tall buildings, and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), who can strrrrrrretch her limbs to trap bad guys. Their pal Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) freezes villains in ice. Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl marry. A public backlash against superhero mayhem forces them all to stifle their powers and lead anonymous, ordinary lives. Jump ahead 15 years and the Incredibles are now the Bob and Helen Parr family -- their boy Dash (Spencer Fox) and girl Violet (Sarah Vowell) have powers, but can't use them. Bob is an insurance man who barely fits into his cubicle. Then a government agency calls upon Bob to track down a new villain. The mission soon pulls in the whole family.
ALFIE (R, 103 minutes)
This remake of the 1966 British film that made Michael Caine a star updates the original and moves the adventures of the cockney womanizer from London to modern Manhattan. It feels dated anyway. The new "Alfie" is a big Hollywood film that tries to be edgy like its low-budget predecessor, but instead bogs down in cute. Its snazzy visual style (Alfie walking past billboards displaying words like "WISH," clothes that hark back to the Swingin' Sixties) embodies the films overall archness. Yet high schoolers 17 and older who like star Jude Law may also like "Alfie" because it tries so hard to look good, walk near the edge and make you like it.
The movie includes explicit sexual situations, some with partial nudity, and bristles with slangy (though not especially crude) verbal sexual language ("shagging birds") and innuendo. There are subplots about male sexual dysfunction, bipolar disorder, a cancer scare and a planned abortion for an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Profanity, marijuana use, drinking and smoking are the other, milder mature elements.
Law makes a charming, appropriately soulless, but rarely dangerous Alfie -- a blue-collar Brit in New York as a limo driver to rich women, many of whom he also transports in non-automotive ways. Alfie often remarks right to the camera about his romantic adventures and how a fellow can juggle women and avoid all commitment. Susan Sarandon plays a glamorous magnate who turns the tables on our antihero. Women he treats poorly include Marisa Tomei as a single mom, Jane Krakowski as a trophy wife and Nia Long as his best friend's (Omar Epps) lover.