Study Guide

The Incredibles Dissatisfaction

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BOB: Want to catch a robber?

LUCIUS: No. To tell you the truth, I'd rather go bowling. Look, what if we actually did what our wives think we're doing? Just to shake things up.

Bob is the midst of a full-blown midlife crisis at the beginning of the film. By day he works as a mild-mannered insurance agent; by night he sits in a car with an old buddy and listens to the police scanner with an intensity most people reserve for new episodes of Serial. He can't let go of his past glories.

BOB: Look, I performed a public service. You act like that's a bad thing.

HELEN: It is a bad thing, Bob! Uprooting our family again, so you can relive the glory days is a very bad thing.

Bob's wife Helen is furious when she learns of his late-night superhero runs. Like her hubby, she once was a superhero herself, but has since turned a new leaf and focused entirely on her family. So what's Bob's deal?

BOB: It's psychotic. They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity but if someone is genuinely exceptional-

HELEN: This is not about you, Bob. This is about Dash.

A big issue between Helen and Bob is their son Dash, who acts out in school because he isn't allowed to use his superpowers. It's clear from their interactions, however, that this fight is really about them. Bob is living vicariously through his son, seeing Dash's relationship with his powers as the same as his own.

BOB: You want to do something for Dash? Then let him actually compete. Let him go out for sports!

Again, Bob is talking about himself here, not Dash. He's tired of life as a insurance adjuster—he wants to be the superhero he once was. And, like Dash, he can't understand why he's not allowed to do what he wants.

BOB: The company is sending me to, uh, a conference.

HELEN: A conference?

BOB: Out of town. And I'm just gonna be gone for a few days.

Oh, the fake conference—classic midlife crisis move. By lying straight to his wife's face, Bob crosses a point of no return when it comes to his secret superhero exploits. Get ready to live in the dog house, fella.

[Bob gets inside his brand new sports car on his way to "work."]

Well, here it is—the ultimate sign of a midlife crisis. All Bob needs is a tribal tattoo and a backwards baseball cap and he'll be locked and loaded.

EDNA: Well, I assumed you knew, darling. Why would he keep secrets from you?

HELEN: He wouldn't. Didn't. Doesn't.

EDNA: Men at Robert's age are often unstable. Prone to weakness.

Humorously (or not, depending on your perspective) Bob's lies make Helen think that he's cheating on her. And is it that a ridiculous thing to assume? All she knows is that her husband has been lying to her for months. Seems like it'd make sense.

HELEN: [crying] I am such an idiot. I let this happen, you know. The new sports car, the getting in shape, the blond hair, the lies.

In a way, Bob is having an affair, just not with a person. Instead, he's having an affair with himself—or, rather, a superhero version of himself. He basically swiped right on his own selfie.

BOB: I'm sorry. This is my fault. I've been a lousy father. Blind to what I have. So obsessed with being undervalued that I undervalued all of you.

After his family rescues him from certain death, Bob realizes just how wrong he's been. About everything. By focusing so much on his anger at his place in the world, he's neglected to think about the feelings of the people closest to him.

BOB: I can't lose you again. I can't. Not again. I'm not strong enough.

HELEN: If we work together, you won't have to be.

In fitting fashion, Bob only defeats the Omnidroid thanks to his family. There's some tasty symbolism here. He used to think that he was stronger when he was Mr. Incredible. But now he realizes that he's stronger than ever with his family at his back.

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