There are a lot of things I don’t get, and one of them is the lack of enthusiasm the Senior Geeks showed for the idea of an Incredibles sequel. I like Pixar movies in general, and the first was fantastic, but the thing that sealed the deal for me was the return to the series of creator Brad Bird. Bird’s a very talented animation director who’d left to go work on some live action films. But he came back, and Pixar held off on making more Incredibles before he returned.
Now there’s an Incredibles 2.
Picking up right where the previous movie ended, Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T Nelson) and his wife Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) need to do something about the Underminer (Pixar mainstay John Ratzenberger), and after an exciting opening sequence involving all the Incredibles, particularly with Dash and Violet trying to push babysitting Jack-Jack off to each other, things are going crazy. There is one problem, even with Frozone (Sam Jackson) helping out, and that’s that being a superhero is still illegal. Enter Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), a wealthy superhero enthusiast who wants to use good PR to change the law. Winston’s sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) is a tech-head inventor who can help make that happen, and they have the perfect Super to be the new representative of what superheroes can be in mind: Elastigirl.
The first Incredibles dealt largely with Bob going through something of a symbolic mid-life crisis as he tried to get back to what he was once good at, with wife Helen trying to remind him he still had to be a good husband and father. Son Dash was chomping at the bit to use his speed more. Daughter Violet mostly faded into the background, as befitting her invisibility powers. For the sequel, we can see more focus on the two women. Violet is hitting adolescence hard, having issues with a boy she likes and her father’s efforts to not make things worse. And meanwhile, there’s still Jack-Jack displaying powers of his own…
As for Helen, one of the things the Incredibles movies do so well is show some real creativity in how she uses her powers. There’s a lot of that with superpowers in general, where the blandest use of such displays is generally Bob’s standard superstrength. In the sequel, we see Helen go some amazing superpowered stuff and being a hero in ways we didn’t see the first time around while Bob takes up being a stay-at-home parent to three kids, each of whom has demands in ways he’s not used to dealing with, creating a bit of fun domestic comedy. Factor in as well the general retro-look Bird gave to the world of The Incredibles, and giving Bob a parental role reversal, where Helen is the one who goes to work and he stays home with the kids, is a nice development, showing how he relates to the rest of his family in ways he didn’t in the original.
Overall, Incredibles 2 works on two levels. It’s a great superhero movie with a lot of kinetic movement and thrills, and it’s also a good family comedy that digs into what people mean to each other. Basically, it’s a Pixar movie. Those things are always hard to compartmentalize into one box. Nine and a half out of ten delighted superhero fashion designers.