Brad Bird’s Incredibles 2 is a fantastic mix of eye-popping animation and a storyline which will resonate with families around the globe.
It’s amazing to think how different our world has become between the first movie and now the sequel. In the last fourteen years, society has undoubtedly seen an upswing in more women joining the workplace, while more men appear to be staying home and taking care of the kids. Stereotypical parental roles are becoming more antiquated, and flexibility is a must for any parent. Incredibles 2 addresses this issue head-on.
The Parr family is attempting to lead a normal existence now that superheroes are illegal. However, when your version of ordinary involves the ability to lift a tank, life has a way of bringing those abilities out in the open. The Underminer (John Ratzenberger) attempts an elaborate bank robbery just as our heroes are heading to the car. Rather than ignore a crime in progress, this crime-fighting family springs into action in an attempt to stop him which results in so much collateral damage. Politicians are fed up with these messes and decide that all government superhero programs are shut down for good. Left with little options, Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr (Graig T. Nelson) has to start looking for a job. Just as he’s asking Elastigirl/Helen Parr (Holly Hunter) where his ties are, Frozone/Lucius Best (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up to tell them that media mogul Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) has requested a meeting with the three of them. Deavor sits them down and explains how he wants to launch a media campaign to make superheroes legal again, but he wants the first phase of it to center on Elastigirl. With promises of a hefty salary and a future where superheroes can be themselves, Helen leaves Bob at home, and he’s forced to take on many new roles. Just when it seems the Parr family is on a path towards their version of normalcy, a new evil emerges.
The Incredibles 2 can be summed up beautifully by this quote from Parr family friend and hero consultant Edna E. Mode (Brad Bird),” Done properly, parenting is a heroic act.” Bird has constructed a storyline reflective of the struggles parents face every day. Helen’s decision to go back into the field as Elastigirl isn’t so different than some of the choices many mothers face and her feeling of guilt after the fact is all too common. On the flipside, Bob is willing to take on more of homemaker role at first because in his mind it’s easy and a means to an end. Litte does he realize how difficult the job of being at home indeed is and how Helen makes look easy. My favorite sequence is when Bob is at the end of his rope after barely sleeping because of Jack-Jack’s (Eli Fucile) antics, Violet’s (Sarah Vowell) boy troubles, and Dash’s (Huck Milner) inability to grasp math. What parent hasn’t been at that breaking point before? Incredibles 2 doesn’t seek to provide any answers to these constant struggles; it’s more of an acknowledgment of the superhuman feats parents pull off daily.
Jack-Jack is easily the star of Bird’s latest film. His interactions between the raccoon which saunters into the family’s backyard and his dad are the funniest moments of Incredibles 2. Crafting the youngest member of the Parr family to have multiple powers which were unpredictable was indeed hilarious and reflective of most babies his age. While my son Henry can’t ignite into a ball of fire or turn into a demon, he certainly can go from destroying his room to screaming uncontrollably at a moments notice.
The animation of Incredibles 2 is vibrant making use of bright colors to create intricate cityscapes. What stood out to me is how seamless they were able to meld 60’s decor with a futuristic twist creating an original look. There wasn’t any portion of Incredibles 2 which dragged, and that speaks volumes as the film is almost two hours long. Michael Giacchino’s score is bright, energetic, and captures the essence of Bird’s narrative.
While The Incredibles oozed with originality making it even now one of the most highly regarded Pixar releases ever, Incredibles 2 doesn’t even come close to the lofty standards set by the original film. Perhaps even thinking it could is a tad bit unrealistic. Overall, Incredibles 2 is an entertaining follow-up with fantastic visuals and a message that’s reflective of today’s world.