Everyone’s Favorite Superhero Family Returns, as Incredible as Ever
The Incredibles 2
Starring the voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell & Huck Miner
Directed by Brad Bird
As family reunions go, this one took a while—14 years!
It was worth the wait—and the Incredibles haven’t aged a bit. The superhero family we first met back in 2004, in the original double-Oscar-winning, Disney-Pixar smash, returns for another animated adventure, picking up exactly where they left off.
In the opening sequence, they scramble to deal with threat—a subterranean supervillain called the Underminer—who surfaced at the cliffhanger end of the previous film. It’s a setup that might seem like it could easily have come from any one of dozens of other superhero flicks. But right off the bat, the movie finds its unique, family-centric mojo: You’d never see the Avengers or the Justice League bickering about who’s going to mind the baby while the others sprint into the fray.
(The rodent-like Underminer is voiced by John Ratzenberger, the former TV Cheers star who’s been a character in every movie to come off the Disney-Pixar assembly line, beginning with Toy Story in 1995.)
It’s great to hear the familiar sounds again of Craig T. Nelson (Mr. Incredible, gifted with super strength); Holly Hunter (his wife, the super-stretchy Elastigirl); and Sarah Vowell (teenage daughter Violet, who can project force fields and make herself invisible). Newcomer Huck Miner is the voice of Violet’s younger, rascally brother Dash, who has speed to match his name.
But hang on for baby Jack-Jack (voiced by Eli Fucile, also returning from the first film, and the son of Pixar animator Tony Fucile). The family’s little bundle of joy steals the show as his surprise superhero powers come poppin’ out all over.
Samuel L. Jackson returns as Incredibles’ pal Frozone, whose supercool power is zapping things into to ice.
Things really click into gear when the plug gets pulled on the local undercover superhero program, largely due to the high levels of collateral damage whenever the Incredibles swing into action. The public, fed up with buildings getting smashed and bad guys slipping through the cracks, finally make superheroes illegal. The family’s contact, government agent Dicker (Jonathan Banks), wearily informs them it’s time to pack up the spandex.
But a global telecom tycoon and fan, Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk of TV’s Better Call Saul) and his inventor sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener), offer them a lifeline: They want to use the Incredibles as the cornerstone of an ambitious media campaign to “rebrand” all superheroes and make them superstars again. But Winston only wants Elastigirl, not all the Incredibles.
That means it’s off to work—on her zippy new Elasticycle—for Mrs. E, while Mr. Incredible heads to the sidelines as a stay-at-home dad.
Returning writer-director Brad Bird (who also voices Edna Mode, the Incredibles’ quirky fashion designer) once again creates a deliciously detailed, multilayered, multitextured, multigenerational tale brimming with espionage satire, cinema savvy and pop-culture wit, while digging into some broader themes that resonate deep, wide and true—family, marriage, gender roles, kids.
But the movie doesn’t shortchange the super-charged, superhero action. (Bird also directed Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, the fourth film in the Tom Cruise spy-flick franchise, and his kinetic knack for action shows.) There’s plenty of drive as the plot takes a diabolical turn you might (or might not) see coming, with a motley, colorful host of supporting-cast superheroes (my favorite was Reflux, who belches up fiery streams of yuck) and a devious ploy involving mass-media mass hypnosis.
There’s a depth, a richness and a pathos to the story and characters that make Incredibles 2 one of the most superior superhero movies of the year, animated or otherwise. It’s that good. The movie’s mod, retro-hipster look—futuristic ’50s settings spiced up and spliced with slick, contemporary gadgetry and gizmos—is enriched by the jazzy, snazzy, cool-cat musical overlays of Michael Giacchino (who also scored the first movie, as well as dozens of other TV shows and films). The whole thing glides, grooves and makes you grin from start to finish.
“I just wanted to be a good dad,” says Mr. Incredible to Violet one night, after a particularly exasperating day—one in which he admits he made a parenting glitch, one that ultimately brings him closer to his daughter. “You’re not good,” she assures him. “You’re super.”
Clever, comedic, all but alive with masterful animation and bursting with brisk, frisky creativity, Incredibles 2 is a rollicking romp that reunites us with our favorite superhero family—and reminds us why they were so super all along.
In theaters June 15, 2018