After taking on the Underminer as he robbed a bank, Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter), and their kids Violet (voiced by Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner) are all detained by the police. Supers are still banned from using their powers and the damage caused by the family in their effort to stop the Underminer leads to the ending of the Super Relocation program meaning in two weeks the family will be homeless unless something happens. That something is a meeting with Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) and his sister Evelyn (voiced by Catherine Keener). Devour owns a massive tech firm and his sister is their head of research and development for the company. Winston is a fan of Supers and thinks they should be allowed to operate in public again. His father was a fan of Supers as well but was murdered in a home invasion robbery after all the Supers was banned. He believes Elastigirl is the best choice to be the public face of Supers as her style causes less collateral damage then Mr. Incredible. That means Mr. Incredible (or Bob Parr) will need to be a stay at home dad for Violet, Dash and baby Jack-Jack. There’s a new villain that is the target of Elastigirl’s first mission: Screenslaver. Screenslaver can send hypnotic messages through any video screen making those affected do whatever they are told. Meanwhile, Jack-Jack is starting to show he has powers…lots of powers. This makes an already difficult job for Bob that much harder.
“Incredibles 2” was released 14 years after the original. That’s several lifetimes in movie years. For a while we got a new “Paranormal Activity” and “Saw” film every year. While there have been long breaks between trilogies “Star Wars” movies are coming out every two years (plus the “Star Wars Story” flicks). With a film as successful as “The Incredibles” was in 2004 you’d expect Disney and Pixar to have jumped on the sequel train before now. After all we’ve had three “Toy Story,” three “Cars” and two “Monsters Inc.” movies. What was the hold up on getting “Incredibles 2” into theaters?
Writer and director Brad Bird has been mulling what to do for “Incredibles 2” since the first film came out. Bird is a director that is much in demand so his other projects for Disney/Pixar and other studios kept him too busy to focus on the next chapter in the lives of the Parr family. Plus, animated films take as long if not longer to produce than live-action movies. Once Bird had the time to focus on the script the story of gender role reversals, angsty teenagers and a superpowered baby came into focus. The skill and artistry of thousands of animators, programmers and actors combined with Bird’s script and direction has given us a sequel that was a long time coming but was certainly worth the wait.
It should come as no surprise that “Incredibles 2” looks, well, incredible. The retro modern design of the characters, vehicles, buildings and fashion along with the bright color palate make the visuals pop with vibrancy and a sense of motion even when things are standing still. The way the Supers’ powers are shown is also gorgeous with a character able to open portals from one location to another through glowing holes, electrical emissions shooting from another’s hands and a rather disgusting power of spewing boiling hot glowing gastric juices out of a character’s mouth. That character is rightly named Reflux. You expect a Disney/Pixar film to nail all the little details that have made the animation giant a reliable source for entertaining, fun and sometimes heartbreaking films. “Incredibles 2” has the visual flair you expect and demand from the studio in spades.
It also has a story that is surprisingly contemporary even though it has been told over and over for nearly as long as movies have been a thing. The swapping of roles between a mother and father, from breadwinner to homemaker and vice versa, was the subject of 1983’s “Mr. Mom” starring Michael Keaton and Teri Garr. Thirty-five years later “Incredibles 2” tells the story again. As in “Mr. Mom” the initial results are borderline disastrous, but both our male heroes figure it out eventually.
I’m not sure if it’s good or bad news that we apparently still need to use this trope as the basis for a film but “Incredibles 2” uses it to good effect. It shows the audience that even those people that seem to have it all figured out don’t always know what they are doing. As Bob tries to help Dash with his homework (“Math is math!”) and indirectly ruins the dating life of his daughter Violet he has the sudden addition of Jack-Jack’s emerging powers heaped on top of everything else. He struggles with handling it all but never succumbs to the urge to call his wife Helen. She is trying to make it possible for all Supers, including Bob and the kids, to choose whether they want to be public with their abilities. If you wanted to read far more into it, it could be analogous to people living alternative lifestyles being able to be open and honest with their family and friends. Again, that’s reading far more into this story than is blatantly there but it’s a possibility.
The voice work is stellar as you would expect. Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson and all the rest deliver quality performances that only add to the breathtaking visuals. Nelson’s exasperated Bob Parr while trying to help Dash with his homework is alone worth the price of admission. Hunter gives an A+ performance as Helen, giving both the hero and the mother similar yet still unique emotional signatures. Elastigirl takes both roles seriously. While you always expect him to drop a “M*****F****R!” at any moment, Jackson gives Frozone the level of cool you’d expect. While she doesn’t get much screen time, Edna Mode steals the few scenes she’s in. Voiced by writer/director Brad Bird, Mode delivers her trademark biting sarcasm with the fashionable style we love. If they ever decide to make an Edna-centric spin-off, I’ll happily preorder tickets.
“Incredibles 2” is rated PG for some brief mild language and action sequences. While there are threats of injury in the action scenes there is no real damage done to any characters even when large objects land on them. Mr. Incredible is put in peril throughout the film but the most harrowing is when he is trapped underwater for an extended period. There are other action scenes involving explosions and crashes. Elastigirl is locked in a freezer making it dangerous for her to try to use her powers. Foul language is limited to the words “fart” and “Hell.”
While there are times when the characters seem to be in some real peril “Incredibles 2” manages to be a brightly colored antidote to anyone dealing with the emotional aftermath of “Avengers: Infinity War.” We always knew the Marvel heroes would face their mortality at some point due to aging actors and the many times characters are killed (and are eventually reborn) in the comics. It can make for a grim and mildly depressing experience once these inevitable deaths occur. “Incredibles 2” manages to put its characters in danger and still deliver a fun, exciting and ultimately joyous movie. And since these characters are animated they’ll never grow old and never die. If only all our heroes could be immortal.
“Incredibles 2” gets five stars.
There will be no review next weekend as I have some prior commitments, but I’ll be back the weekend of 6/30 to review one or more of the following:
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom—
Sicario: Day of the Soldado—
Listen to The Fractured Frame wherever you get podcasts. Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.