Writer/Director: Brad Bird
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Vowell, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Huck Milner, Eli Fucile, Isabella Rossellini
Pixar has had varying success with their sequels ranging from unnecessary (Cars 2) to innocent fun (Monsters University, Finding Dory), to making you downright cry uncontrollably (Toy Story 3). Incredibles 2 has that quintessential Pixar touch where they ease you for a fun adventure and then packs a punch by its end, but this time without the tears. The Incredibles have to be careful, as being super heroes is considered unlawful in the city. When the Underminer wreaks havoc on the city, they feel no choice but to step in and save the day. Teenage daughter Violet (Vowell) is in full teen angst mode as she’s told to watch after baby Jack-Jack, and then on top of that, she exposes her real identity to one of her classmates. Mr. Incredible (Nelson) and his wife Helen/Elastigirl (Hunter) are taken into custody after all is said and done due to the destruction on the city. Their pal Frozone (Jackson) ices his way out of there without notice.
They’re not the only ones frustrated with the laws set in place against super heroes. Businessman and tycoon Winston Deavon (Odenkirk) and his sister Evelyn (Keener) are looking to fund a program to get super heroes back in good graces again by setting up publicity for them. They choose Elastigirl to be their first model as the evil Screenslaver makes his mysterious presence known. As she’s off working, Mr. Incredible is playing the role of stay at home dad for the first time. Violet is moody, son Dash is excessively energetic, and then there’s Jack-Jack, who starts to unleash uncontrollable powers of his own.
It’s been fourteen years since Pixar created their own super hero movie, and Incredibles 2 is well worth the wait. Writer and director Brad Bird is back on board for the sequel and starts this one off with a bang creating an effects heavy opening sequence with the Incredibles’ takedown of the Underminer. It’s continual proof of Pixar’s magic as the special effects utilized are far more impressive than your standard live-action blockbuster. From there, Pixar isn’t afraid of getting political as one characters states, “People see what politicians tell them to see.” It makes you wonder if they made this film with this story for a reason as the topic of changing perceptions becomes integral for Winston and his work with Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl. It becomes Elastigirl’s story, as she’s elevated to, not only the superhero of the movie, but also that of her family.
Bird wants the audience to question stereotypical social and gender norms with how he blatantly writes the Mr. Incredible character, voiced with paternal heroism by Craig T. Nelson. Mr. Incredible is incredibly frustrated that his wife gets to be center stage as the image of this new program. He hasn’t a clue of what it’s like to be the sole parent at home trying to keep control of the kids when he’s used to being the one who saves the day. He can’t quite equate the idea of being a stay at home parent as being heroic. Parents who take their kids to see the movie will get a kick out of him trying to learn “new math” with son Dash. He later proclaims, “I’ve got to succeed, so she can succeed, so we can succeed.” Incredibles 2 is a celebration of parenthood, and the incredibly hard work everyone puts in to be the heroes of their family and the collaboration it takes to make the whole family unit work.
The movie is part super hero action flick and part comedy thanks to the scene-stealing Jack-Jack. If he was a darling little cutie in the first one, now he’s turned into one of Pixar’s funniest characters to date. You may be laughing with tears as he fights off a raccoon testing out each of his newfound powers. The only person who can handle Jack-Jack is fashionista Edna Mode (voiced by Bird) who has designed all of the Incredibles costumes. You may remember she’s modeled after legendary costumer designer Edith Head. Jack-Jack and Edna are this summer’s comedy duo you didn’t know you needed. The two characters garner massive laughs from the entire audience.
While I generally gravitate toward Pixar’s original movies like Up, Inside Out, or Coco versus their sequels, I was quite surprised and relieved at how much I enjoyed Incredibles 2. I didn’t want it to just feel like a money grab. Brad Bird’s script is never subtle as its focus on the demands of parenthood is always front and center. It comes with a twist that may or may not surprise the audience. Incredibles 2 straddles two narratives exceptionally well, which can be hard to come by with a super hero movie. It has a winning cast with Nelson, Holly Hunter as Elastigirl, and Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone returning to their roles, and Catherine Keener and Bob Odenkirk joining the ensemble. Composer Michael Giacchino is Pixar royalty and provides a James Bond-inspired feel to his score. Brad Bird and his team at Pixar find that balance of catering the movie towards their younger demographic while making it enjoyable and topical for the parents going in with their kids. Parents will want to take note that there is one sequence that is quite dark and possibly too scary for little littles going in. There’s never a dull moment in its two-hour run time. It may sound long for a kids’ movie, but they should be thoroughly entertained the whole time.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Pixar is firing on all cylinders with a Marvel-caliber super hero movie.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS