Just when you thought computer-animated extravaganzas had devolved into little more than a litany of tired pop culture references and some swaths of bright color comes this smart, sophisticated, much-needed exception. The story of a family of superheroes will call to mind the “Spy Kids” movies, and its mid-century design aesthetic is a loving homage to James Bond. But the latest release from Pixar Animation (“Finding Nemo,” the “Toy Story” movies) has a brain, a heart, and – best of all – a strong script beneath the striking visuals.

The crimefighter formerly known as Mr. Incredible (richly voiced by Craig T. Nelson) misses saving the day after 15 years away and gets sucked back into the life with a top-secret assignment. His wife (Holly Hunter) and two of their three kids (Spencer Fox and Sarah Vowell) get dragged in, too. In the process they all learn – without the slightest bit of heavy-handedness – to have faith in their own powers. At two hours, though, the movie could be tough for young kids to sit through. Rated: PG for action violence. Running time: 118 min. Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.

– Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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