Good things take time. But did Pixar really need to take 14 years to follow-up on one of its early successes, “The Incredibles"?
The belated release of “The Incredibles 2” has only added more excitement for exasperated fans of the original, who have since grown up, gone to college, gotten married, declared bankruptcy and God knows what else.
The good news is that, unless they’re dead, they won’t be disappointed.
“The Incredibles 2” picks up where the original left off. Bob and Helen Parr, formerly known by their superhero names, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, are raising kids Dash, Violet and Jack-Jack, each of whom have superpowers. They've been trying to live as normal citizens ever since superheroes were outlawed by government bureaucrats.
Wealthy superhero geek and media guru Winston Deaver and his tech genius sister, Evelyn, recruit Helen to change public perception of superheroes and overturn the inane law.
So, it’s a classic switcheroo for the Parr family: Helen goes off to win the bread while Bob stays home with the kids.
While Bob’s figuring out how to be a stay-at-home-mom, Helen must battle the nihilistic, seemingly all-powerful, cyber-foe Screensaver, who wants to rid humanity’s reliance on technology by having technology destroy them.
This film intelligently balances two extremes — the almost sitcom-like predicament Bob faces, and Helen’s more contemporary battle with a vile cyber terrorist.
Despite the dad-at-home being a classic comedy bit, nothing feels contrived. Bob's struggles deliver plenty of wholesome laughs, from the coy satire of the teacher’s “change math” scene to Violet’s boy trouble, to discovering baby Jack-Jack's uncontrollable power tantrums.
This Jack-Jack bit provides some of the best comedic fodder, including a hilarious episode spent battling a raccoon. He shape-shifts, travels to different dimensions and multiplies into numerous spastic little Jack-Jacks.
The visual wizardry of Jack-Jack’s magic tricks is a tribute to modern animation, as is how Pixar animate the cute little kid when he’s not causing madness and mayhem.
Sleep-deprived Bob becomes so desperate that he pleads superhero fashion designer, Edna Mode, to take Jack-Jack off his hands.
Edna is an ardent individualist. With Grecian reliefs decorating her stylish indoors, she worships heroes and abilities anywhere she can find them.
Meanwhile, Helen keeps busy saving runaway trains, ambassadors and the world.
I've seen feminists be particularly gleeful at how "2018" the role-switching is. So, Helen's new job might come off to cynics as another gimmick for the Hollywood big-shots to engage in feminist virtue signaling.
However, it doesn't feel forced.
Just like in the first film, Helen, deftly voiced by Holly Hunter, is feminine, deadly and intelligent. She is up against Pixar’s most sophisticated antagonist yet. When Screensaver interrupts a television broadcast to give a bloodcurdlingly relevant speech that preys on people's fears of technology, Helen tracks the masked monster down to his apartment. Hypnotic flashing lights render their subsequent brawl all the more striking.
One sees a twist coming with Screensaver, and you expect Winston Deaver, who curiously resembles disgraced politician Anthony Weiner, to be revealed as the mastermind behind the evil. But for once, it’s not the businessman who is left holding the gun.
The first “Incredibles” film stood out for its tight pacing, action sequences and sleek look. It was a stylish throwback to the '60s, complete with fast-paced dialogue and a jazzy score, which is also present in this new film, perfect for Bob and Helen's domestic bickering.
The film, which can likely stand alone from its predecessor, refreshes in an age where similar entertainment relies so often on flat emotional gibberish to pull its last punches.
This film avoids that formula.
When the film finished in the packed New York theater I watched it in, the audience rose up in applause.
This is no doubt a vastly entertaining summer movie for the whole family, and I can hardly wait for “Incredibles 3” to come out — hopefully sometime in the next 14 years.
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