Incredibles 2 shows fight­ing crime is a messy busi­ness.

Incredibles 2 is a solid se­quel but not quite, you know ...

National Post (Latest Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Chris Knight

When we last left the Incredibles, 14 years ago, the 1960s su­per­hero fam­ily was about to do bat­tle with a vil­lain called the Un­der­miner. Incredibles 2 picks up at pre­cisely the same point, with the wife and hus­band team of He­len and Bob (voiced by Holly Hunter and Craig T. Nel­son) joined by daugh­ter vi­o­let (Sarah Vow­ell), son Dash (Huck Mil­ner) and in­fant Jack-Jack to bat­tle the Pixar lucky charm that is John Ratzen­berger.

The melee has as lit­tle to do with the larger plot as one of those old Bond movies that found him wrap­ping up an as­sign­ment be­fore the open­ing cred­its. But it il­lus­trates the fact that fight­ing crime is a messy busi­ness, one those in power (reg­u­lar, not su­per) don’t like clean­ing up.

Or as the film posits, in a mild bit of mod­ern pos­tur­ing: “Politi­cians don’t un­der­stand peo­ple who do good just be­cause it’s right. Makes ’em ner­vous.”

It’s an is­sue the Mar­vel movies have dealt with — hmm, al­most like they’re owned by the same cor­po­rate over­lord — but, this be­ing a kids’ film, the so­lu­tion is sim­pler. With su­per­herodom still il­le­gal, the Incredibles find a pa­tron in ge­nial tech baron Win­ston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), aided by his in-the-shad­ows in­ven­tor sis­ter Eve­lyn (Cather­ine Keener). His plan is to spin their crime-fight­ing ex­ploits so that peo­ple re­al­ize how valu­able they are. Since Elasti­girl tends to leave less rub­ble in her wake, she’s cho­sen as the face of the new su­per­hero move­ment. And as luck (if you want to call it that) would have it, a brand-new vil­lain named Screenslaver arises, ap­par­ently in­spired by TV’s The Outer Lim­its. You could launch into some Au­gus­tinian theod­icy at this point as to whether good­ness cre­ates its own evil, but again — kids’ movie!

It is quite a long kids’ movie, mind you; add in the adorable eight-minute short Bao by Cana­dian an­i­ma­tor Domee Shi and you’re al­ready well over the twohour mark. But it isn’t all one head­long rush — there are some nice dis­trac­tions, like a tour of the Incredibles’ new house, which looks like a Frank Si­na­tra/Hugh Hefner co-pro­duc­tion. Or the in­tro­duc­tion of a bunch of new su­per­heroes with un­usual pow­ers, though sadly none of them reg­is­ters as more than comic re­lief — don’t ex­pect any Marvel­style back­story pre­quels to fol­low.

There’s also a nice bit when Jack-Jack is babysat by “Aun­tie” Edna Mode, who’s a cross be­tween fash­ion de­signer Edith Head and writer/di­rec- tor Brad Bird, who voices her. This is to give Bob a break — with Elasti­girl out fight­ing the Screenslaver, Mr. In­cred­i­ble has to stay home and look af­ter the kids. It’s a role-re­ver­sal gag that Bird thank­fully doesn’t play too broadly; in fact, by the end of the film the les­son learned by all the Incredibles is that it takes a fam­ily to raise a fam­ily. So, not un­like the Fast and Fu­ri­ous fran­chise there.

The film fea­tures a few easy twists and roads-most-taken, in­clud­ing the old vil­lain-in-plain-site cliché that won’t fool any but the youngest or least at­ten­tive view­ers. And this is prob­a­bly just me, but I yearn to see the out­take where Sa­muel L. Jack­son’s Fro­zone char­ac­ter is al­lowed to go full Jack­son with his di­a­logue.

But it’s still a solid Pixar out­ing. The stu­dio has been re­ly­ing more and more on se­quels of late — the 2000s saw a string of seven orig­i­nal re­leases, but in this decade se­quels have out­num­bered them six-to-four. Incredibles 2 sur­passes the Cars fol­lowups and Find­ing Dory, but it’s not up there with Coco or In­side Out. It is, how­ever, the fam­ily-friendliest su­per­hero movie of the year — or at least un­til Teen Ti­tans Go! opens in six weeks. Sum­mer is al­ways su­per-crowded.

Incredibles 2 opens across Canada on June 15.


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