Incredibles 2

Director: Brad Bird
Screenplay: Brad Bird
Stars: Craig T. Nelson (Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible), Holly Hunter (Helen Parr / Elastigirl), Sarah Vowell (Violet Parr), Huckleberry Milner (Dashiell Parr), Catherine Keener (Evelyn Deavor), Eli Fucile (Jack-Jack Parr), Bob Odenkirk (Winston Deavor), Samuel L. Jackson (Lucius Best / Frozone), Michael Bird (Tony Rydinger), Sophia Bush (Voyd), Brad Bird (Edna Mode), Phil LaMarr (Krushauer / Helectrix), Isabella Rossellini (Ambassador), Adam Gates (Chad Brentley), Jonathan Banks (Rick Dicker), John Ratzenberger (Underminer)
MPAA Rating: PG
Year of Release: 2018
Country: U.S.
Incredibles 2
Incredibles 2

Brad Bird’s Incredibles 2 picks up quite literally where The Incredibles (2004) left off, with the titular superheroic family—father Bob Parr, aka Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), mother Helen Parr, aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), their teenage daughter Violet (Sarah Vowell), preteen son Dash (Huckleberry Milner), and toddler Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile)—trying to stop a new supervillain known as the Underminer (John Ratzenberger), who looks like a mole and commands a tunnel boring machine the size of an aircraft carrier, from robbing a bank. Things do not go all that well, as best intentions on the part of the Incredibles result in the Underminer getting away and millions of dollars of damage being caused in their failed attempt to apprehend him, which only re-emphasizes the world’s continuing ban on superheroes.

Living out of a motel and being nominally protected by government agent Rick Dicker (Jonathan Banks), the Parrs are in dire straits, as they are unable to use their superpowers and must conduct themselves as a “normal” family. Help arrives in the form of a gregarious, fast-talking tech entrepreneur named Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his languid tech-guru sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener), who have a big plan to bring superheroes back through a carefully orchestrated set of publicity stunts that will turn the world’s perception around and lead to the removal of legislation against them. Winston’s plan primarily involves Elastigirl, since Mr. Incredible, with his hulk and bulk, tends to the be the one who causes the most collateral damage, which stabs at Bob’s super-masculine ego. While Helen runs off to save the world and demonstrate that superheroes can be trusted, Bob is left at home to tend to Violet’s teenage angst over the boy at school she likes whose memory of her was erased by the government, Dash’s math homework troubles (“That’s not the way we’re supposed to do it, Dad. They want us—” “I don’t know that way! Why would they change math? Math is math!”), and care for Jack-Jack, who begins manifesting his own superpowers, which appear to be, well, pretty much all of them.

The supervillain this time around is the Screenslaver, who uses computer and television screens to hypnotize people into causing chaos and destruction. At one point late in the film, the Screenslaver manages to hypnotize all of the world’s superheroes, including Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), the Incredibles’s ice-and-snow-shooting partner, and eventually the Incredibles themselves, which leaves saving the day up to the kids (a plot turn that the kids in the audience will enjoy; nothing tickles them more than stories in which parents have to be saved by their underappreciate doffspring).

Bird, whose last two outings were the live-action Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol (2011) and Tomorrowland (2015), returns to his roots in animation, and while Incredibles 2 is not nearly as good as the first film, there is a lot to enjoy here, starting with the still wonderful visual design, which merges midcentury modern architecture with James Bond-style gadgetry taken to the nth degree and amusingly cartoonish characters (Bob is all chin and shoulders, while Jack-Jack has a pointy crop of hair atop his head that makes him look like a toddler version of the smiling mascot for Big Boy Burgers). Bird, who also wrote the screenplay, plays it safer here, with less social satire and more pyrotechnics and classical comic-book narrative turns. The scenes with Bob reluctantly playing Mr. Mom are a bit funnier than they should be since the Incredibles world looks like the Eisenhower era, and there is some general truth in the exhaustion of trying to maintain three kids of vastly different ages all at the same time. There is also something telling about the villainous deployment of screens, since we are all pretty much glued to them all the time and if someone decided to use them against us, we’d be helpless to resist. Still, it isn’t hard to feel like Incredibles 2 is a bit of cash-grab, especially since it doesn’t substantially build on the original film, even as it maintains much of what was enjoyable about it, at least on a surface level.

Copyright © 2018 James Kendrick

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All images copyright © Disney / Pixar

Overall Rating: (3)

James Kendrick

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