In Pixar’s twentieth feature film, “Incredibles 2” is released 14 years after the original, “The Incredibles” (2004). This is the longest gap for a sequel to a Disney-Pixar film. In a rare display of Hollywood integrity, writer/director Brad Bird committed to only do a sequel if his new story was at least as good or better than the original, well done.
Picking up right where the last storyline left off, Bird reminds us why we enjoyed the original in the first place. More important, we are grateful for an animated feature that can feel even more authentic, credible and enjoyable than most live-action superhero movies from Marvel Comics. Even for a sequel, it doesn’t feel as repetitive and formulaic as the well worn and never-ending superhero sagas.
Craig T. Nelson returns as the voice for Mr. Incredible. As Bob Parr, family man, he faces a masculinity crisis when wife Helen (Holly Hunter) is asked, as Elastigirl, to lead the charge for revised superhero legislation. Helen tells Bob, “You know it’s crazy, right? To help my family, I got to leave it. To fix the law, I got to break it.” Bob reluctantly agrees, “I’ll watch the kids, no problem.”
As superpowers had been ruled illegal, billionaire activists, Winston and Evelyn Deavor (voices of Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener) offer to help the cause by changing the nation’s perception of these do-gooders. Helen tells the TV audience, “Girls, come on! Leave the saving of the world to the men? I don’t think so!”
While Helen saves the world, Bob is committed to becoming a stay-at-home-dad, “I’ve got to succeed, so she can succeed, so we can succeed!” Bob struggles to teach son Dash “new math” and wrestles with teenage daughter Violet’s boyfriend issues. Meanwhile, baby Jack-Jack is a handful and then some.
It’s difficult enough for Bob to restrain his superpowers when the world needs him, but just as difficult for Dash and Violet, who have their own superpowers. After all, the family that fights together, well, you know. What nobody expected is that Jack-Jack begins to develop a superpower of his own, or two, or three, or more. Bob reacts, “You have powers, yeah baby!” Buddy Lucius, who is also Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), offers his support, but marvels about Jack-Jack, “That’s freaky!”
Brad Bird had the basic theme and a few leftover ideas from the original as the concept from the beginning, but says it took all that time to pull the rest of the story together. With this sequel, and more to come, “The Incredibles” becomes the fifth franchise (“Toy Story,” “Cars,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and “Finding Nemo”) for the Pixar-Disney studios.
The release date was moved up a year, swapping dates with “Toy Story 4” which was running behind. Then, it set a record for most viewed trailer of all time. This is the first Pixar film to contain profanity and first for a protagonist to shoot a gun (shoots a lock). Yet, the outrage from fans was the title did not contain the word “The” as in the original.
The animation is brilliant and nail-biting action sequences are actually thrilling. Incredibly, the story is not just an excuse for the action or humor. Additional voices were provided by John Ratzenberger, Isabella Rosselini, Barry Bostwick, Michael B. Johnson, Sophia Bush, Jere Burns, Adam Rodriguez and Brad Bird.
“Incredibles 2” is 118 minutes, the longest computer animated film ever, rated PG for action sequences and language. To reinforce the 60s setting, clips from “The Outer Limits” and “Johnny Quest” are shown. Both were televised on ABC, now owned by Disney. Yes, there is a “hidden Mickey” in the movie. See if you can find it.
Even the villains carry cool names here, “The Underminer” and “The Screenslaver.” This is a film suitable for kids and enjoyable for adults. It features action, family values and girl (super) power. One of the family’s goals was to change people’s perceptions about superheroes. You might say they did it incredibly. And, the movie was incredible, too.
Ron’s Rating: B+ Leigh’s Rating: B+