The soundtrack to "The Incredibles" would be a notable accomplishment from any composer, but a major achievement for a largely unknown composer scoring his first major movie. The name of Michael Giacchino is not unknown in computer gaming circles where he introduced orchestral scores to games, notably the "Medal of Honor" series. For "The Incredibles" Giacchino kept the symphonic scale, but ditched the military style in favour of an action score with jazz and big band influences. The setting for the animation with its familiar yet unusual family brings to mind such retro influences as the Flintstones or the Jetsons. The music has the same confident feel. Some early scene-setting tracks bring to mind the jazz of Henry Mancini (and perhaps associations with his animated Pink Panther), though when the action picks up the score falls firmly into the Bond territory of John Barry. Despite these comparisons the soundtrack is far from being a rip-off, since Giacchino has taken these resonances and created a score with its own unique sound.
The jazz elements include brass stabs, screeching trumpets, swing rhythms, fluttering flutes and punctuating percussion. The stabs may bring to mind the "pow" moments from Neal Hefti's Batman music, though in an affectionate rather than a camp way. There is a main theme (and some subsidiary themes) but it is not omnipresent as it might be on other soundtracks catering for heroic action. Rather it lurks in the background, is woven into many of the tracks and seemingly changes with the mood of the film as the characters grow and evolve. The music is not wall-to-wall action. There are moments where music plays to the family's dysfunctional behaviour and Simpson's style comedy, then contrasting moments of bonding and emotion. There are a number of scenes where danger threatens and the music heightens the tension. The overall result is truly escapist and involving for the audience. The film makers deserve credit for realising their vision with unfaltering conviction, and it is great that they have demonstrated that there is still cinematic life in the jazz sound. Let's hope this starts a new trend.
Sheet Music from The Incredibles can be found at The MusicRoom. The DVD of this great film can be found at these links Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. The second disc contains a lot of extras, the "making of" sections have some minutes devoted to the composer Michael Giacchino and the recording of the music, plus extra movie shorts "Boundin'" and "Jack-Jack Attack" complete with neurological stimulation from the Mozart soundtrack including the well-known Alla Turca. The included trailers highlight the musical debt to John Barry by using music from his main theme to "On her Majesty's Secret Service".