The Incredibles Return in the Fun, but Less Thoughtful 'Incredibles 2'
Its nice to know that I wasn't the only one who was clamoring for a sequel to Brad Bird's 2004 superhero extravaganza, The Incredibles. With Incredibles 2 officially scoring the record for the highest-grossing opening weekend for an animated film, its safe to say that people shared my enthusiasm, and we may not have to wait 14 years until the next installment of this series is released. If the Pixar team can keep consistently telling the story of this super family, that is something I definitely get on board with.
Incredibles 2 picks up immediately after the original movie, with the Parr family facing off against the sudden appearance of the Underminer (John Ratzenberger). Although the family enthusiastically tries to stop the villain from robbing a bank, things don't go according to plan, and the Parr family soon finds themselves with no government support, no money and even fewer options. In comes Winston and Evelyn Deavor, played by Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener respectively, with a plan to rebrand Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Helen Parr/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and their friend Lucius Best/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) as more considerate heroes in order to restore the legal status of "supers" the world over. Of course, there's a catch - the superhero fanboy Winston only wants to start with the most PR-friendly superhero, Elastigirl, leaving the jealous Bob home with his kids. Things quickly complicate even further when the mysterious villain Screenslaver shows up to challenge Helen right as her superheroics are gaining traction.
Of the most satisfying elements of this movie is undoubtedly how fun it is overall. I honestly can't remember a movie that seems to be having such a good time playing around with its premise in recent years, and that does so unpretentiously and with so few winks and nods. The action sequences, for example, truly shine. Watching Elastigirl use her stretching abilities in combination with her segmented motorcycle to stop a train is exciting not only because of the stakes, but also because of the increasingly creative ways that her powers are utilized. The highlight of the movie, however, is probably a battle between the youngest Incredible, Jack-Jack, who uses his newly developing powers to fight a raccoon in the backyard of the Incredibles' new estate. While the stakes are lower in this fight, watching the terror grow on the raccoon's face as he witnesses the dizzying multitude of powers on display is both hilarious and awe-inspiring.
As is usually the case with animated movies, the jokes can be kind of hit-or-miss, but for the most part, this movie succeeds. Unlike Deadpool 2, which tells a million jokes a minute in hopes that some will land, Incredibles 2 seems to take a little more care with its jokes, letting a lot of the humor spawn from what we know about the characters, combined with a healthy dose of physical humor. Mr. Incredible is the butt of a lot of the jokes, especially his attempts at being a single parent, but they play into his arc instead of just portraying him as a total moron, to the film's benefit. Brad Bird once again voices the famous Edna Mode, fashion designer for superheroes, who is given some of the film's funniest lines. Her bonding with Jack-Jack almost makes you wish that the two of them got their own buddy movie, or at least a short-film.
Incredibles 2 does fall flat in a few notable places. First of all, Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner), the children of Bob and Helen, are not given much to do until the end of the movie, and neither seems to have much of a character arc besides adding support to the emotional journey of their father. While they get some amusing battles towards the end of the movie involving the new superheroes emboldened by Winston and Elastigirl, they get very little character growth and often feel inconsequential to the moral of the story. Not that the moral of this film is particularly strong either. Incredibles 2 mostly treads the same ground as the first outing, telling a tale of adults in mid-life crises trying to redefine their roles as parents and agents of change. Their isn't much past the surface level message of this story, and it does not lend itself to much analysis or deep digging. But then again, maybe this movie doesn't want to be analyzed or thought about too much - especially since that would lead to viewers guessing the identity of the Screenslaver almost immediately upon the character's introduction.
The word that can best describe Incredibles 2 is "fun." Ditching some of the darker elements of the previous movie makes this summer blockbuster more of a kid's movie than the original, and you may get a feeling of deja-vu watching the emotional struggles of the characters. Regardless, Incredibles 2 is more inspired in its humor and fight scenes than 75% of the superhero movies in the last several years, and even if there isn't much depth to it, there is no doubt that you will enjoy watching the Incredibles return.