Fun family reunion
Incredibles brood is back and turns in a solid outing of superhero flyin’ and fightin’
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 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 eightminute short Bao by Canadian animator Domee Shi and you’re already well over the two- hour 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 Marvel- style 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/ director 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 supercrowded.
In Disney Pixar’s Incredibles 2, Helen ( voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, while Bob ( voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day- to- day heroics of normal life at home when a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot that only the Incredibles can overcome together. Also featuring the voices of Sarah Vowell as Violet and Huck Milner as Dash, Incredibles 2 opens in U. S. theaters on Friday.