Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Eli Fucile, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Brad Bird
It’s been fourteen years since Bob/Mr. Incredible, Helen/ElastiGirl, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack Parr graced our cinema screens. In all that time, fans of 2004’s The Incredibles have been crying out for a sequel. Writer/director Brad Bird took his time but finally found a story he deemed suitable for the family’s next outing. Having arrived a year earlier than originally intended (Toy Story 4 was due for release this year with Incredibles 2 next year, but TS4 has been slower in its production and so they switched), it has already proven to be a huge success, raking in just under $188 million in its opening weekend, making it the best debut by an animated film. It’s unsurprising, given the popularity of its predecessor. Has Incredibles 2 really been worth the wait, or is it yet another lacklustre sequel?
As with any Pixar movie, before it starts we are given a ten-ish minute short as a starter. Bao tells a little story about a mother going through empty-nest syndrome, and is just as perfect a short as any of Pixar’s previous ones. Moving on to the main course, Incredibles 2 overlaps with the end of The Incredibles, as the Parrs take on The Underminer. Following this, they are once again outcast as the program that protects them is shut down and they are thrown back into obscurity, with ‘supers’ still being illegal. In order to start bringing home the bacon again, Bob (Nelson) offers to go back to work, but Helen (Hunter) believes it’s her turn to go out to work whilst Bob stays home with the kids. Helen is offered work as ElastiGirl by Winston Deaver (Odenkirk), the owner of a corporation named DevTech, who is also a supporter of supers. He and his sister, Evelyn (Keener), want to prove to people that the world needs supers and they should be made legal again. In order to do this, they stage a stunt with ElastiGirl to put supers back into the public’s good graces, with Bob all the while trying to handle things at home. Things of course don’t go entirely to plan, as a villain known only as Screenslaver attempts to unravel it all, throwing the Incredibles back into the fray.
If comparisons between the sequel and the original need to be made, then it’s easy enough to say that this film is successfully on par (pun intended) with the first. The story hasn’t necessarily evolved, but considering it picks up immediately from the first story makes this forgivable, as there hasn’t really been time for anything to be digested and processed properly by the family; they’re still figuring out how to be supers (or not) in a world that doesn’t want them whilst sticking together and supporting each other as a family. Bird had always wanted to see a switch between Helen and Bob in their parental and career roles, he just needed a story to surround and support that arc. And it makes sense: finding a way to bring back the supers and let them do what they do best and be accepted as they are whilst tackling that very current issue of men and women’s roles at home and in the workplace. The plot involving Screenslaver isn’t quite as good as Syndrome’s (Jason Lee) from the first movie, nor is the characterisation. There’s a huge element of predictability that keeps Screenslaver from really being a decent antagonist. But it’s not the end of the world – it allows ElastiGirl to take centre stage, along with many new supers. And, let’s face it, there’s really only two main reasons we all wanted another Incredibles movie: Jack-Jack and Edna Mode.
Jack-Jack (Fucile) absolutely steals the movie, for the most part. Despite still being a gargling, vocabulary-less baby, his actions and cuteness overrule many scenes he’s in. As we discovered at the end of the first movie, Jack-Jack has a lot of undiscovered powers. By the end of this movie he’s at a count of seventeen. He will leave audiences giggling and smiling many times over. He also befriends old friend of the Parr family, and a fan-favourite, Edna Mode. Voiced hilariously once again by Brad Bird, the sequel would not have been the same without the stylist-to-the-supers making an appearance. She is just as rude and blunt and fabulous as she was the first time around. In fact, all the main characters are just as endearing and wonderful as they previously were: Helen proves once again that her kids come first, but she also wants to set an example; Bob is ever the patriarch, wanting to relive his days as a super whilst being Superdad; Violet (Vowell) is not quite as shrinking anymore as her namesake, but is now much more sure of herself; and Dash (Milner) is just as lovable and mischievous as ever. Samuel L. Jackson is also back as Lucius Best, aka Frozone, a loyal family friend to the Parrs who is always around when they need him (even if his wife doesn’t like it). You wouldn’t know that each character had, in reality, been out of the game for fourteen years; they’re all as recognisable as they’ve ever been.
Incredibles 2 is just as entertaining and fun as The Incredibles still is: it’s got heart, it’s got action, it’s got story and it’s got Edna. It does lack more so on the villainous side of things, but as sequels go, it’s very decent. It would be surprising if a third movie isn’t already greenlit, and speculation would most likely lie on seeing how the kids grow up in a world where supers are now legal. Will Dash find out just how fast he can go? How many powers will Jack-Jack end up with? Will Violet finally get her date with Tony Rydinger? Perhaps even seeing Helen and Bob grow old would be interesting: will they keep going as supers? Will their powers decrease with age? There are lots of avenues to explore, and whether or not Bird leaves it another fourteen years doesn’t really matter, because the Incredibles will find their devoted fans wherever they go, whenever they show up. Making this series a trilogy would be most welcome.