The world of Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles recently exploded with a record breaking sequel, a Disneyland attraction, and more consumer product tie-ins than you ever thought possible. But perhaps the most creative tie-in yet is A Real Stretch: An Elastigirl Prequel Story, which gives Helen another adventure of her own from a time before she was a mother or even called “Mrs. Incredible.”
Like Evelyn Devor (“Evil Endeavor”), Helen Parr had an alias that befitted a super hero, or a drag queen on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Helen Highwater (“Hell and High Water”). She’s one of the top heroes at the National Supers Agency and Rick Dicker is routinely offering her a leadership position on a team, an offer she keeps refusing. She likes working alone and doesn’t need anybody’s help.
When Municiberg decides to hold a Supers Appreciation Day, Elastigirl is the only hero who objects. She doesn’t want to stand on a stage an accept praise, or find out who the “Fan Favorite” is. Unlike her peers, including the arrogant Mr. Incredible, she wishes the city would abandon their plans. And when she discovers a devious plot that could threaten all of the heroes once they are assembled in one location, it will be hard for her to convince anybody that the event shouldn’t take place.
While the story is predictable and drags quite a bit, some of the fun centers around the fact that most supers don’t know each other outside of work. Elastigirl can’t stand Mr. Incredible, who is excited about a Saturday morning animated series based on him called Mr. Incredible and Friends. But when she meets a nice man named Bob Parr while grocery shopping, she can’t help but swoon. Any reader, young or old, will know where that subplot is going and yes, it’s charming.
My biggest criticism of the story by Carla Jablonski is not that it’s predictable or slow-paced, but that it uses dialogue that seems unfitting of Helen. The films have a mid-century esthetic and the dialogue stays mostly confined to 1950’s-isms. In A Real Stretch, she uses more modern language, including some unmistakably 1990’s phrases. Kids might not notice, but adults surely will.
Reading A Real Stretch: An Elastigirl Prequel Story won’t fundamentally change your enjoyment of Helen or the Incredibles films. However, fans of the character or movies will enjoy reading about the circumstances that caused her and Bob to become romantically involved and there are some fun vignettes to be found within these pages. Since this is an original story, I recommend this to kids ages 8 and up who love Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles and want to spend more time with Elastigirl.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.