IN­CRED­I­BLES

re­turns in In­cred­i­bles 2. How much do we love them? Let us count the ways.

Chattanooga Times Free Press - Parade - - Picks - BY LAMBETH HOCHWALD

The most in­cred­i­ble fam­ily of su­per­heroes is back. The Parrs, the lov­able, fear­less fam­ily of five we first met in 2004 in The In­cred­i­bles, will re­turn for an­other an­i­mated ad­ven­ture when Dis­ney-Pixar’s In­cred­i­bles 2 ar­rives in the­aters June 15. And al­though 14 years have passed, it’s like the clock has barely ticked at all: The new movie picks up sec­onds af­ter the first one ended, with the same cast of char­ac­ters. Elasti­girl (voiced by Holly Hunter) hur­tles back into su­per­hero work, while her hus­band, Mr. In­cred­i­ble (Craig T. Nel­son), re­mains be­hind as a stay-at-home dad with the cou­ple’s three kids, teenage Vi­o­let (Sarah Vow­ell), ado­les­cent Dash (new­comer Huck Mil­ner) and baby Jack-Jack.

But a vil­lain, the sub­ter­ranean Un­der­miner ( John Ratzen­berger), emerges to wreak havoc on the city. To stop him, the whole fam­ily, in­clud­ing dad Bob and his best bud, Fro­zone (Sa­muel L. Jackson), scram­bles to get in on the ac­tion.

It’s all great fun, and it re­minds us why we love the In­cred­i­bles.

1. THEY’RE ALL ABOUT FAM­ILY

The first In­cred­i­bles movie was unique among su­per­hero flicks in that it fo­cused on a hus­band, a wife and their kids—who hap­pened to have su­per­pow­ers, says Jerry Beck, a former stu­dio ex­ec­u­tive at Nick­elodeon and Dis­ney, and the au­thor of more than 15 books on an­i­ma­tion his­tory. “It was an af­fir­ma­tion that the fam­ily was a team, work­ing to­gether,” he says.

“These films ma­jor in fam­ily and mi­nor in su­per­heroes,” agrees Brad Bird, 60, the writer and di­rec­tor of both In­cred­i­bles. “The fam­ily part of this story has al­ways been the part that in­ter­ests me more, though they’re also made of all the things I loved when I was young—spy movies, su­per­heroes, ac­tion films and com­edy. So it’s this gi­ant, nut-filled brownie—all the stuff I loved, mashed to­gether for me.” In fact, Bird—the fa­ther of three sons: Nick, 23, Jack, 25, and Michael, 29—fo­cused on his own fam­ily dy­nam­ics and experiences when he wrote the orig­i­nal In­cred­i­bles, which won the 2005 Academy Award for Best An­i­mated Film and an­other for sound edit­ing, and was nom­i­nated for Best Screen­play. It was the first film from Pixar—the stu­dio

that had also by that time made Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Find­ing

Nemo and Mon­sters, Inc.—to win mul­ti­ple Os­cars, and the first one to fea­ture an en­tirely “hu­man” cast.

“It’s all taken from the fam­ily I grew up in. I can re­late to ev­ery mem­ber of the fam­ily. Hope­fully you can re­late. I was the an­noy­ing lit­tle brother to my three older sis­ters— and I watched my sons get through their in­se­cure teenage phases,” Bird says.

THEY’RE 2. AS­PI­RA­TIONAL

Ul­ti­mately, get­ting au­di­ences to re­late to char­ac­ters is what dis­tin­guishes a so-so an­i­mated film from a great one, says Beck. “The In­cred­i­bles rep­re­sents who we want to be and also helps us rec­og­nize our faults and our dif­fer­ences—that’s what makes it par­tic­u­larly great.”

3. THEY’RE FUNNY

“[The first movie] was so witty,” says Elasti­girl’s voice ta­lent, Hunter, 60, who won an Os­car for her role in The Piano (1993) and is cur­rently star­ring in the HBO se­ries Here and Now. “Brad is such a great ob­server of be­hav­ior, both in chil­dren and adults—and in su­per­heroes. He was able to com­bine this clas­sic and mod­ern sen­si­bil­ity in the movie that felt re­ally new.” In­cred­i­bles 2, she says, will also de­liver the laughs.

4. THEIR SU­PER­POW­ERS ARE SUPERCOOL

“A dad is ex­pected to be strong, so I gave Bob su­per­strength; a mom is pulled in 20 di­rec­tions, so I made He­len elas­tic,” Bird says. “Teenagers are kind of de­fen­sive and don’t want a lot of at­ten­tion, so I gave Vi­o­let in­vis­i­bil­ity and the abil­ity to cre­ate force fields. Ten-year-olds love to be on the go, so I gave Dash the power of speed. And while ba­bies are un­knowns, Jack­Jack has the po­ten­tial to have his own pow­ers.”

5. THEY CEL­E­BRATE WORK­ING MOMS—AND DADS

The work­ing mom pulled in a thou­sand di­rec­tions is a de­cid­edly mod­ern and “now” take in In­cred­i­bles 2, which cen­ters around Elasti­girl as the lead crime fighter.

“I had the idea for this sto­ry­line—about how Bob han­dles not be­ing a su­per­hero—as I was fin­ish­ing the first movie,” says Bird. “This idea of fig­ur­ing out how to set up Elasti­girl, ver­sus Bob, to go on the mis­sion. I thought it would bring things out of the char­ac­ters.”

Hunter agrees that the plot twist re­flects the ad­vance­ment and em­pow­er­ment of women over the past decade and a half that has elapsed since the first film.

“In the first movie, Elasti­girl was ret­i­cent to take up the gaunt­let, but in In­cred­i­bles 2, she wields that power with glee and zero guilt,” she says.

Nel­son, 74, says he can re­late as well to his char­ac­ter’s story arc, in that Bob’s prime role is to care for his three kids.

“Bob feels like he’s be­ing sub­li­mated and over­looked in some re­spects, but he also finds a new pur­pose and a new chance to get to know his kids in a way that he wouldn’t oth­er­wise have had,” says Nel­son, who’s ap­pear­ing in the movie Book Club, which opened in the­aters last month. He has three chil­dren of his own, plus eight grand­chil­dren and three great-grand­chil­dren. “I re­lated to this be­cause, when I came out to Los An­ge­les, there were times I wasn’t work­ing and I was home with the kids, and times my wife was work­ing. This sto­ry­line is very rem­i­nis­cent of all of that.”

6. VI­O­LET IS EV­ERY TEENAGER

Daugh­ter Vi­o­let’s si­t­u­a­tion might also look and feel fa­mil­iar to a lot of fam­i­lies, es­pe­cially ones with teenagers at home.

“Vi­o­let’s com­ing into her own but is still so young, and some of the con­flicts she has with her mother are that her mother is pro­tec­tive,” says Vow­ell, 48, who was dis­cov­ered by Bird when he heard her on a pub­lic-ra­dio show. “But that’s what a mother does.

“While Vi­o­let was a lit­tle more am­biva­lent in the first film be­cause she wasn’t sure what she was ca­pa­ble of, now she knows she has skills and she’s chomp­ing at the bit to help out in su­per­hero work. What teenager can’t iden­tify with want­ing to be older than you are?”

As it some­times hap­pens with real-world teens, Vi­o­let be­comes her fa­ther’s No. 1 helper as he tries to step up and take care of home-life du­ties. “Vi­o­let is ba­si­cally his deputy in car­ing for the two younger chil­dren,” says Vow­ell. “He­len is out there sav­ing the world, and Bob and Vi­o­let are tak­ing care of the baby, which is ac­tu­ally a much harder job than fight­ing crime. They’re both get­ting a bit of a taste of what He­len has gone

through the past few years, tak­ing care of an en­er­getic boy and a volatile baby.”

There’s also a warm and fuzzy daugh­ter-dad sub­plot.

“Vi­o­let spends more time with Bob in this movie,” Vow­ell says. “That teenage daugh­ter fa­ther re­la­tion­ship is al­ways so fraught, but it’s funny too. Daugh­ters make fa­thers into bet­ter men, and you can see that hap­pen­ing in this film.”

7. DASH IS STILL DASH, EVEN WITH A NEW VOICE

Huck Mil­ner, 10, took over Dash’s voice from ac­tor Spencer Fox, whose voice changed too much to be be­liev­able as a 6-year-old. He says record­ing his first movie role was a thrill.

“Brad would let me know what he wanted Dash to say and how he wanted him to sound,” says Mil­ner. “Some­times he came run­ning back in with new lines he had just writ­ten. In the booth, we would joke around and some­times Brad would say, ‘I like that! Let’s use it!’”

8. EVEN THE BABY HAS POW­ERS

Re­mem­ber Jack­Jack? He didn’t get much ac­tion in the first movie, but in In­cred­i­bles 2, Jack-Jack al­most steals the show.

“Jack-Jack is an undis­cov­ered coun­try to the par­ents,” says Hunter. “It’s just a kick to see what that baby is ca­pa­ble of.”

9. BONUS: BOB ODENKIRK!

Odenkirk, 55, voices a new char­ac­ter named Win­ston Deavor, a mas­sive su­per­hero fan who heads a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany along­side his ge­nius sis­ter Eve­lyn (voiced by Cather­ine Keener). He says the idea of play­ing a mogul with a big per­son­al­ity was a de­par­ture from his usual TV and movie roles (think Break­ing Bad).

“I’ve only done a few things like this, so it’s new to me,” says the star of the ac­claimed AMC se­ries Bet­ter Call Saul. “It was a real unique ex­pe­ri­ence. I was thrilled how my char­ac­ter de­vel­oped over the course of record­ing in the four or five ses­sions we did. The story changed and got richer and more in­trigu­ing and more lay­ered in ev­ery way.”

10. IT TUGS THE HEARTSTRINGS

Nel­son thinks the In­cred­i­bles fran­chise is a lot of fun but has re­wards that ex­tend far be­yond the movie screen.

“One of my great-grand­kids, his room is filled with all kinds of Pixar stuff,” says the vet­eran ac­tor of movies in­clud­ing Poltergeist, All the Right Moves and Stir Crazy and TV’s Coach, My Name Is Earl and Par­ent­hood. “He’s 2 and he got all the In­cred­i­bles stuff and has no idea I’m in it. It’s so cool that a whole new gen­er­a­tion is dis­cov­er­ing it.

“One of my grand­daugh­ters—who just won a na­tional cheer­lead­ing com­pe­ti­tion—asked me the other day, ‘Can you call this kid? He has autism and he’s a big In­cred­i­bles fan.’ So I called him, as Mr. In­cred­i­ble. He knew all the lines from the first movie. He was so ex­cited.

“You for­get about this stuff—then you re­mem­ber how im­por­tant it is for some of these kids. It’s re­ally fun and neat to be a part of it. It’s very life-af­firm­ing.”

In fact, it’s in­cred­i­ble.

Bob Parr (Mr. In­cred­i­ble), voiced by Craig T. Nel­son He­len Parr (Elasti­girl), voiced by Holly Hunter Vi­o­let Parr, voiced by Sarah Vow­ell

Dash Parr, voiced by Huck Mil­ner

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