OBVIOUSLY PRODUCED before the film's well-deserved Oscar, the extras on this two-disc set of The Incredibles (on DVD March 15) don't include Brad Bird running around Pixar waving the gold statuette overhead. Watching the making-of featurette, however, you get the feeling nobody there would raise an eyebrow at the writer- director's antics. New to the Pixar system, and working with three- dimensional CG animation for the first time, Bird says the company told him, "We're worried about becoming complacent. We want you to shake things up a bit." This from an office where every cubicle seems to have a guitar (in addition to all the computers) and employees zip down the corridors on Razor scooters. Bird comes across as a bit of a madman and an egotist ("I came to Pixar because they protect the story"), while Pixar exec John Lasseter—who has his own Oscar—and his team seem supremely mellow and tolerant of Bird's ravings.
Buried elsewhere is Mr. Incredible and Pals, a cheesy '60s-style animation supposedly suppressed by Pixar. It's static and two-dimensional, like bad Hanna-Barbera, and uses Clutch Cargo–style human lips for the dialogue. On the mock commentary, Samuel L. Jackson protests, "This is a stain on my otherwise spotless endorsement record!" Then there are secret files on all the supers forced into retirement— like Everseer, whose weaknesses are listed as "mind-reading animals, particularly squirrels."
Sarah Vowell, the voice of Violet Incredible, does a segment explaining both her historical passions and blinking exposure to the mainstream (she'll be in Seattle April 29 with her new book, Assassination Vacation). "Unlike anything I've ever worked on," she says of the film, ever nasal, "my friends and family find it fascinating." What about the casting? "I can be that kid: the gloomy, sarcastic teenager."
Bird shares one commentary for the feature, while his Pixar underlings join up for another. "I love DVDs," Bird says in the intro. "We've tried to cram as many cool things as we can on this disc." And there ought to be a special Oscar for that, too.
MARCH 29 releases include After the Sunset, with Woody Harrelson and a slumming Pierce Brosnan; Vera Drake, overlooked at the Oscars but one of last year's best movies (and Imelda Staunton was unquestionably best actress); and the populist documentary Blue Vinyl. Clive Owen is the best thing about Closer. Criterion offers Jules and Jim, Kurosawa's Kagemusha, and a box of Polish war films from Andrzej Wajda.