‘I’ ON CULTURE
We really enjoyed Incredibles 2. Waiting 14 years for a sequel is tough, but when it turns out as well as this does, following up on an Oscar-winning (for Best Animated Feature) film, and just as good, the wait is worthwhile. This is one of the rare instances where a sequel actually is as good as the original.
One of the real pleasures of the film is watching the superheroes working even harder at being good parents than at saving the world. Most superhero movies have limited amounts of family interaction; here, that is at the center. Even while the whole world is at peril, the family sticks together. That extra dimension adds a lot of heart to the movie.
An ungrateful world has criminalized superheroes and their powers, ignoring all the good things they’ve done. (In some ways, the plot ironically mirrors a bit of Captain America: Civil War.) The family, Bob/Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), Helen/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) and their children Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack are living in a third-rate motel. A pair of wealthy siblings, Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn (Catherine Keener), tell them they can restore the supers to their former glory.
A key point is that Helen will be the face of the mission, leaving Bob to be a “mister mom,” trying and not fully succeeding at helping his son with math homework, dealing with Violet’s boy troubles and, most of all, trying to work through the growing number of superpowers developing in baby Jack-Jack. Villain Screenslaver works to take over the world, which brings in superhero icemaker, a favorite from the original film, Lucius/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) to help.
And Elastigirl is fantastic! The visuals are incredible as she uses her superpowers to deal with the supersonic speed of her bike. Her battles are actually works of art. And while all of this is going on, we get to watch Bob trying to deal with the baby, and that element is really the heart of the film. It is wonderfully funny. A scene between baby Jack-Jack and a raccoon who has gotten into the trash in the family’s backyard could be a terrific cartoon in itself.
A key element of the film is the point that the superheroes try to make: that you can simply be good for its own sake, not because you want to use it for nefarious purposes. And politicians seem not to be able to accept that! Talk about a dose of reality. But it is an example of how well the film deals with society.
Too often, the powers that be are against all those who challenge their control, even if it would improve things. Imagine the politicians we have in Washington (or Tallahassee, for that matter) and their reactions if there were suddenly some superheroes. We might even see both parties working together to condemn Superman.
Although the film is fine for the whole family, the themes are sophisticated, dealing with society’s incredible self-absorption. Bob and Helen are seriously concerned about the effect of current problems on their children. These cartoon characters are far more real than superheroes in the live action films.
It also brings the females front and center. Helen is clearly leading the way, joined by Evelyn — and let’s not forget everyone’s favorite superhero costume designer Edna Mode (voiced by director Brad Bird), who brilliantly gets laughs with some really good digs at the world.
The voice cast is wonderful. They contribute to the great humor and the humanity of the film, and its very human touch is what sets it apart from the other superhero films we seem to see coming out on almost a monthly basis.
Pixar does wonderful work. The original Incredibles film won an Oscar, and Pixar’s last major film, Coco, did as well. I would be shocked if this one did not also bring home the award.
There are times I have to ask myself if seeing a film is worth the high cost of ticket prices. For this movie, the answer is clearly yes. It is not only the best animated film I have seen this year, it is one of the best movies of any type.